Written By: Leah Chester-Davis
When Jeffrey Crotts uses the expression “time is money,” he knows all too well what might happen if he doesn’t get a crop such as strawberries harvested when needed. As the owner of Knob Creek Orchards, Inc., in Toluca, North Carolina, Crotts and wife Tara farm 287 acres of apples, peaches, strawberries and blackberries.
The strawberries and peaches are grown primarily for sale at his farm store and other retail outlets in the area. Apples and blackberries are sold both at his store and through wholesale channels such as the Dole Food Company for the blackberries and companies in Michigan for the apples.
While apples have a longer shelf life, the other fruits are highly perishable. When they are in season there’s no time to waste, particularly during harvest time in the spring and summer. When a day or two can make a difference in fruit quality and whether customers will purchase it, the “time is money” phrase becomes all too real.
That’s why Farm Credit EXPRESS has appeal to Crotts and others who need to be in the field instead of filling out paperwork.
“I’ve always borrowed money from Farm Credit,” says Crotts. “As a matter of fact I’ve never borrowed from anywhere else. It’s the only bank I’ve ever been to. They have always understood our needs. They’ve always been here through the good years and bad years because when you farm you don’t always have a good year. They’ve stood by us the last 40 years on our farm.”
A couple of years ago, Crotts was looking at new tractors at West End Sales, a lawn and farm equipment dealer in Vale. That is when he was introduced to Farm Credit EXPRESS. He ended up buying a KIOTI tractor.
“Farm Credit EXPRESS was really fast. Within no time they’ve got everything ready to go and you’ve got a tractor and ready to go to work,” he says. While his loan officer is Miles Hamrick in the Shelby office, Crotts says the Farm Credit EXPRESS route means he doesn’t have to make an extra trip to Shelby for the paperwork. Everything is handled by the dealer and the loan goes to the loan officer’s portfolio for him to follow up on as needed.
The fast turnaround had Crotts back in the field with a new tractor just in time to lay plastic in his strawberry fields and to transplant strawberry plugs for his spring crop. “As a matter of fact,” he adds, “I went back last year and bought another tractor on the same day as the year before using Farm Credit EXPRESS!”
Farm Equipment Dealer Perspective
Hannah Beard is the general manager of her family-owned West End Sales. The business sells a wide range of brands, from hand-held power equipment, to lawn mowers and utility trailers, to tractors and hay equipment. In addition to KIOTI, Massey Ferguson and Branson tractors, the store sells Vermeer hay equipment, and each company has its own financing plan.
“The first thing we offer our customers is Farm Credit EXPRESS,” says Beard. “The advantages that Farm Credit EXPRESS offers over anybody else that I deal with are the term, the rate, no down payment, and no insurance required for the customers. They really like that.”
Beard says she is pleased with the relationship with Carolina Farm Credit. “I am a member myself,” she says, explaining that she lives on a family farm. Her parents, Gary and Margaret Miller, own the dealership and farm close to 500 acres of soybeans, wheat, corn and cattle.
“My customers love the program because, number one, they are going to get back a check every year (through the patronage program) and they love that. The rates are very hard to beat with EXPRESS.”
Crotts hasn’t shared whether he’s going to keep up his tradition of purchasing a tractor on the same day every year, but he knows Beard’s team will be there to assist by offering Farm Credit EXPRESS and getting him back out on the farm.