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Producing Excellence

Jim Schwertner

Schwertner, TX

Capitol Land and Livestock

Products: Cattle dealer

Size of Operation: 400,000 head

In Business Since: 1948

Farm Credit Partner: Capital Farm Credit

Working with Farm Credit Since: 1954

Jim Schwertner grew up with two strong legacies. The first was cattle: his father enjoyed great success in the cattle auction business, and helped Jim buy his first few head when he was just seven years old. The second was banking: Jim's great-grandfather founded a still-thriving community bank in 1912 in the town that bears the family name. Jim embraced both these legacies with an eye toward growth and a commitment to long-term success.

Surrounded by cattle as he was from such a young age, it's no surprise that Jim's office overlooks Capitol Land and Livestock's pasturage and holding pens, both of which represent significant income generators. The livestock dealership, a transition from his father's cattle auction, buys and sells 400,000 head of cattle in a year. Jim's team of 30 buyers and seven sellers, including his son, Jimmy, works deals all day with both new and long-term customers. “We work hard to retain our current customers, and are also always looking to expand our customer base," says Jim. “It's all about treating customers fairly. We offer a fair and competitive price, and give our customers a guarantee that if they're not happy, we'll make it right." In an unusually stringent business approach, every single head of cattle is sold the same day it's bought and a daily accounting is provided to Jim every night “before he puts head to pillow."

As an adjunct to the cattle dealership, in 1990 Jim recognized another opportunity. “The NCBA came out with a quality assurance article saying that it costs ranchers $100 for each head of cattle that isn't weaned properly," says Jim, referring to the process of transitioning calves from their mothers to feed. But proper weaning takes time – 45 days – and ranchers without the land or the time to spend had few options. Jim introduced Schwertner Select as a pay-by-the-day weaning program that enjoyed instant success, and today handles up to 175,000 head a year on their 20,000 acres.

Jim has financed his business with Capital Farm Credit and its predecessor Farm Credit organizations from the very beginning. “Farm Credit understands agriculture. They understand the volatility of the markets, and they're willing to adapt and change as the industry changes," says Jim. “They've always been there for us, and we know that as long as we keep them posted on our operation, they'll stick with us." That's important in an industry that requires more and more capital, says Jim. “Today we need to be very efficient, and having a banker who will respond with a moment's notice is key."

Such appreciation for Farm Credit may sound strange coming from the majority owner and board chairman of a successful commercial bank, Schwertner State Bank. “I see Farm Credit as a strategic partner to our bank, not an adversary. We work hand in hand," says Jim. “Commercial banks and the Farm Credit System are completely different. If you understand both, then you understand how they can be compatible."

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