Why I Chose FBN®: Kyle Hotz, Senior Loan Advisor, Ag Lending Team

Mark Wilson

Jul 28, 2022

Our ‘Why I Chose FBN’ series features stories from employees across different roles, teams, and geographies on how they got to FBN, what it’s like to work here, and how their teams help fulfill our mission of putting Farmers First®.

When did you join FBN®, what is your current role at FBN, where are you based, and what are your responsibilities? 

I joined FBN in November 2020, I am a senior loan advisor in the finance department. I provide financing on ag real estate, operating and equipment, also cross selling in insurance and livestock for farmers and people getting into farming, and also cross selling other FBN products.

The majority of the people I do business with are already in the ag industry, but some are people who are thinking about getting into farming. 

 What was your previous work experience before joining FBN? 

I was an Ag Lender for about 15 years in the community banking system, I was vice president at a couple of banks, president at one bank. Most of them were hometown community banks.

What did you first find compelling about FBN that led you to want to learn more? 

My former boss is on the finance team. He approached me while I was baling corn stalks one day, “I just started with this company FBN, it’s pretty cool, and we’re looking for Loan Advisors, would you be interested?” 

I was pretty happy where I was, and he said it was a start up. That got me a little nervous, because I had never worked with a startup company before. Everything I had worked at was well established, but I said “well, I’m not opposed to hearing them out.”

I went to the interview process and just kinda fell in love with it throughout the interview process, the idea, and the direction that FBN was going. I thought it was a really neat opportunity where I could get in on the ground floor. I thought it was pretty cool after I talked to TJ Wilson and Dan English.

Why did you ultimately decide to join FBN? What did this thought process look like for you? 

On the personal side, I met with TJ first and I thought “This is a guy I could work for.” He was great in the interview, and I felt I had a real great connection with him and Dan. The way that FBN is set up in the finance department, the model that they presented to me, just really caught my attention and made me think “Man, they’re serious, and this thing could really be something pretty spectacular if it comes to fruition.”

In my two years here it has done nothing but meet expectations, if not exceed expectations, and they were right: it is what they said it was, plus more, so I haven’t regretted it a day. It’s a great place to work, the best job I’ve ever had, and the people here are awesome. 

The finance department, our model, is based on teams, and they put together great teams, and tools for us to use.t’s been a breath of fresh air. We’re meeting the budget or exceeding it by quite a margin. We’ve been very successful in the model that they’ve put before us.

 Now that you’ve joined, how would you describe FBN’s culture and what it’s like to work here? 

When I think about my previous experiences, it seemed like ag lending was not as respected, not as high priority on bank boards’ lists. They were kinda stuck in a rut, not wanting to change things. The days got kind of mundane. Doing the same thing over and over and over again, and it seemed like when you presented a credit, it was scrutinized to the hilt.

It was getting tougher to get guys money. It just didn’t seem like agriculture was their top priority, whereas here, from the management to the very lowest of the totem pole, if we bring up an issue, or an idea, you really feel like they’re going to take it into account, and do something about it.

Taking ideas, running with them, trying new things. We’re still in our infancy stages, and you can tell that they really want to make things work, make things really good, and no idea goes unresearched.

On the team, we have numerous years of experience, and you can always turn to somebody who has some experience in that area.

As an Ag Lender, corn, soybeans, hogs and cattle are what I’m used to, and now I’m doing loans for coffee and different varieties of produce. Stuff that I had no idea of until I got into it and learned from other people in the finance department.

Everybody is knowledgeable. You can certainly find someone who has an idea of what’s going on, and in my old system I didn’t have those avenues to go to. It’s fun to be here. 

I don’t mean to run down my old institutions or anything. A lot of these places didn’t have a whole lot of experience in agriculture, so they were scared of it. They didn’t know. My bosses were mostly commercial lenders. They didn’t understand agriculture, whereas here everybody’s done ag. Everybody understands it, and it’s refreshing. I’s nice. 

We know you have a life outside of work - what kinds of things do you do for fun? 

I am actually a farmer myself. This is my farm office that I’m in right now. We raise cattle, corn, soybeans, and that’s kinda what I do for my hobby. When I’m not working at FBN I’m working in the field, or with cattle.

My dad runs the corn/soybean operation. I run the cattle operation. On a day to day basis, it’s just me and my dad and my wife. My dad has farmed since the 70s, and I started farming when I graduated from college, but I’ve been involved in farming pretty much all of my life. 

What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone considering FBN?

If you decide to come on, you’ve made the right choice. It’s a total package when it comes to ag finance. If you decide to join up, don’t be afraid to ask questions, or ask for help because there’s always someone out here who will help you.

FBN as a whole is a great, great company, and headed in the right direction. Don’t be scared to join, because it’s the place to be. From top down, it’s been nothing but great.

Genuinely, FBN is a great place, a great culture, the people are great, and we’re headed in the right direction. I couldn’t ask for anything else. 

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Mark Wilson

Jul 28, 2022

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