On July 1, Badgerland Financial, AgStar Financial Services and 1st Farm Credit Services joined together to become Compeer Financial. Compeer Financial is a member-owned Farm Credit cooperative that includes 144 counties in Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota, making it the third-largest organization in the Farm Credit System.
Rod Hebrink, former president and chief executive officer of AgStar Financial Services, was introduced as the new CEO of Compeer Financial at a press conference held July 13 at the new cooperative’s headquarters in Sun Prairie, Wis.
“Like a lot of our members, I’m a farm kid,” Hebrink said. “I have deep roots and a connection to agriculture. I think that’s important now that less than 2% of the population is farmers.”
The vision for creating Compeer Financial began 18 months ago.
“We see great benefits for our clients and for each sector of agriculture,” Hebrink noted. “The majority of our clients will be able to keep working with the same financial team they worked with before the merger.”
Hebrink said there are approximately 1,200 team members. “Our team members live in the communities where they work,” he said. “They are the ones you see at church and at the grocery store.”
The organization is headquartered in Sun Prairie, Wis., and the 17-member board of directors will meet there. “But we’re not moving any of the management team,” Hebrink said. “With access to technology, our team members can work anywhere, whether it’s in Normal, Ill.; Prairie du Sac, Wis.; or Apple Valley, Minn.
“We chose Sun Prairie because it is close to the airport [in Madison] and close to I-90,” he explained.
The combined boards of directors for the three associations originally totaled 45 members.
“The three boards unanimously voted for the merger, even though everyone knew two-thirds of them would no longer be on the board,” said Board Chairman Mark Cade, a Westby, Wis., farmer. “We have kept our farmers first in our decisions.”
Hebrink said while Compeer Financial wants to serve large agriculture, “we want to serve all of our clients. Eighty percent of our 43,213 members have loans under $100,000. The small farms are the life blood of agriculture and our organization.”
Todd Van Hoose, president and CEO of the Farm Credit Council in Washington, D.C., said Farm Credit is the land of very small loans.
“Eighty-seven percent of our loans are under $500,000,” Van Hoose said. “Nearly half of our loans in 2016 were less than $250,000.”
Van Hoose said Farm Credit primarily loans money to farmers. “But rural home lending is a big part of our business. We also make loans to ag co-ops and rural businesses.”
Hebrink said the name Compeer Financial was selected because “compeer” refers to “going forward together as equals.” The organization’s mission is “Enriching agriculture and rural America.”
“Compeer Financial exists to champion the hopes and dreams of rural America while providing personalized service and expertise to clients and the ag industry,” Hebrink said.