Chuck Parker was born on a dairy farm. As long as he can remember, there were always chores for him to do.
As he grew older, he was given more responsibilities with field and crop work. When he graduated from high school, he purchased the family farm and started out on his own.
Chuck, who started working at Stearns Bank in 2018, has 39 years of experience in the ag sales world since leaving the family farm. He’s done dairy equipment parts sales, farm retail as a feed store manager, dairy supply route sales and now farm equipment sales.
That experience gives Chuck valuable perspective on the changes in agriculture over the last 40 years. He recently answered some questions about what he’s seen during a long career in agriculture:
Q: How has the ag financing world changed since you first started?
A: It has changed drastically. A long time ago, customers simply went to their bank for anything they needed to purchase. The manufacturers did not have their own financing, so calls were made to the customer’s banks and we snail-mailed payment requests that the customers wanted from the bank. As the years went by, the manufacturers came up with financing plans of their own along with a more streamlined processes for approvals and documents. As we know today, you can be approved over the phone and documents can be processed that way as well.
Q: What has remained the same in the industry?
A: The farmers have been very loyal to their profession, so the demand for ag financing continues. The industry continues to have its ups and downs. The need for financing and the need for a financial institution to understand the ag industry has not changed.
Q: What do you most enjoy about working with ag dealers and customers?
A: I enjoy working with ag in general and I believe I understand the goals and expectations of farmers and dealerships. I believe the U.S. farmer is not given enough credit for what they do. They have goals like all of us, although many times because of the circumstances their goals are not met. But they persist in the attitude that the next year will always be better. And dealers work hand-in-hand with the same thought process as the farmer. I find it rewarding to offer ag financing to the farmer and vendor to help them meet their goals, to enhance our relationship and make the farm economy stronger.
Q: What’s the toughest part about working in today’s ag world?
A: Today’s farm economy is not very good and it’s difficult for farmers to make improvements or enhancements on the farm. Many financial institutions do not satisfy the needs of today’s successful farmer. In many cases they do not understand farming as it should be understood. That makes it challenging for those that do understand the ag economy to build trust with farmers and vendors.
Q: How much have you learned about ag equipment over the years?
A: The short answer is A LOT. I have been involved in farm equipment for a long time. I remember when skid loaders were not being used at all and remember seeing them as very small units. Then, they got larger. Today, skid loaders have over 100 horsepower and are able to lift extreme amounts of weight. That’s just one piece of equipment. You can pick almost any piece of equipment and it has advanced from the past into what it is today. The advances throughout the years in size, horsepower and technology have been overwhelming. We have tractors that will control themselves now. Thinking back to 30 years ago, if you would have suggested that they would have remote-controlled tractors, people would have thought you were crazy. I’m always researching and learning more about updates to equipment so I’m keeping up with the changes going on.
Q: What’s the best thing about traveling and getting to sit down and talk with ag dealers?
A: For me, it’s extremely helpful to relate to a customer face-to-face, to develop a relationship with them and get a better understanding of their business’s wants and needs. At Stearns Bank, that’s exactly our goal. We adapt our services to meet our customers’ needs. I like to go out and see the dealers and customers in person so they know they matter to us and that we truly want to help them build their businesses.
Q: Where do you envision the ag economy being in three or four years?
A: There will most likely be continued trials and tribulations in the ag economy for some time. Many in the ag world believe it will not turn around quickly. That said, I’m not sure we will see very many changes in the next three to four years. I hope that isn’t the truth, but the writing is kind of on the wall for that right now.
Q: What success story for a customer or ag dealer has meant the most to you since you’ve been in ag sales?
A: I’ve had the opportunity to work with many young, beginning farmers. To see their businesses grow and prosper and helping advance their farming operations is very rewarding.
Q: How is working with Stearns Bank different for ag dealers? What can they expect from us?
They can expect competitive rates, quick service and a quick and easy application process. These are things that many financial institutions can do. But at Stearns Bank, a dealership can expect much more than that. The documentation process for the dealer is how they want it to be. The family here at Stearns Bank goes to work for them as a team. We know the products the vendor is selling and the best way to finance it. Working with Stearns Bank, the dealer does not have to go through all the financial details with the customer. We take care of all that to make it simpler, customize the terms and save the dealer time.
To contact Chuck Parker, or anyone from our agricultural equipment financing team, call 1-800-247-1922.