Like so many who work for Agri-Access, Sean Smith can trace his roots in agriculture back. His childhood was spent helping on the family cattle ranch in northeastern New Mexico. Combine that with a father in banking, and it’s no wonder that after graduating from West Texas A&M, Sean dove straight into the world of agricultural lending.
We sat down with Sean recently to learn a little bit more about his work, and what he sees as the future for the agricultural market and Agri-Access.
Passionate About The Product
Over two decades in the industry and seven years at Agri-Access, Sean has seen enough to know just how important agricultural lending services are to the clients that need them.
“My entire career, this product has struck me as a need in the market. Something that really wasn’t utilized in this part of the world.”
That part of the world refers to Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma — Sean’s territory when he started with Agri-Access in 2013. He’s still in charge of business development in those states, but nowadays he’s also a Director of Business Development who’s responsible for all of the Relationship Managers outside the Midwest, a vast territory generally referred to as “Region 2.”
A Little Bit Of Everything
With clients and lenders spread across places like Vermont, Florida, Texas and the Pacific Northwest, the variety of work Sean and his team take on is impressively diverse. To name just a few, they handle:
- Beef cattle
- Maple syrup
- Wine grapes
With such a staggering variety, success hinges on having staff that know their stuff. Sean praises the Agri-Access credit department for being especially broad in their expertise.
“Our credit staff is amazing in terms of their knowledge of different commodities around the country,” he says. “A credit analyst may look at an almond deal one day, a cotton farm the next day, then a cattle ranch with some timber on it. They have a wealth of experience and information.”
He also emphasizes how important it is for Relationship Managers to know their territory inside and out. Simply put, “we lean a lot on the Relationship Managers as the regional expert.”
In speculating about future growth, Sean views things in terms of scale. On the one end, smaller deals of $3 million and below will grow as Agri-Access continues to lead the charge in making the approval process easier and more efficient. Technological innovations, partly driven by COVID-19, are key here.
On the other end, Sean also sees larger deals of $50 million+ becoming increasingly common.
“We’re going to see more of those because the consolidation of agriculture is going to create larger and larger corporate farms,” he explains.
Finding A Balance
With so much growth on the horizon, work isn’t slowing down any time soon. So how does Sean maintain his work/life balance in the midst of his busy schedule?
While it can be tricky to nail everyone down these days, he says one of his favorite things to do is travel and camp with his wife and two teenage sons. “Trap ’em!” he laughs. “Trap everybody in a box and drive around the country, I love doing that.”