AgAmerica Team Member Highlight: Chuck Cruse
Chuck Cruse knows firsthand that farmers and lenders haven’t always seen eye to eye. “When I was growing up, my wife’s grandfather told me that bankers were the enemy. It was really hard for finance people and bankers—that was their terminology back then, ‘bankers’—to get in and to work with the farmers, because the farmers felt all the bankers wanted to do was to rob them blind and to take their property away from them. I took on that mentality and I changed it.”
That’s Charles “Chuck” Cruse’s mantra, and it’s one that has served him well in his 18 years in agriculture finance. Cruse is a recent hire at AgAmerica Lending, and he plans on bringing his patented blend of straight-shooting principles—defining himself as “an ethical open-minded relationship builder”—to the land lending team for Florida and the Southeast.
Raised in Griffin, Georgia, he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business and Marketing from Valdosta State University. Cruse was first introduced to agriculture when working for Diamond R Fertilizer, Inc. and later when he married his wife. “My wife’s family has a cow-calf operation throughout several counties in the state of Florida,” he shared. “That started my background in ag and helped me understand there was a need for agricultural lending.” It was then that he knew that he wanted to use his business and finance background to assist those in the agriculture industry. He went back to college and focused on ag economics, earning a Master’s of Science from the University of Georgia.
Whether in the field or in the office, Cruse is focused on building relationships with his clients. Being in the industry himself, he has a keen sense of how to figure out the true needs of his clients and to integrate what he does—finances—into his clients’ ag businesses to help them to succeed. “I’ve gone in and been part of their business. That’s what I’ve told them. ‘I might get paid a paycheck from whoever, but I work for you,’” Cruse said.
Additionally, Cruse is a member the National Cattlemen’s Association—and holds offices or seats in many organizations at the state level—like the Florida Cattlemen’s Association and the St. Lucie’s Cattlemen’s Association. “It has helped me grow relationships and meet people that I wouldn’t normally get to meet as an everyday occurrence in the finance world.”
For Cruse, meeting those in the field is the first step in creating a real relationship with clients. “Those relationships have grown and strengthened to be like family, and that’s really helped me move right along through the agricultural world,” Cruse shared. He takes that relationship seriously, regarding all clients like family. “If it’s not the right thing to do, we’re not going to do it,” he asserted.
He knows his principles will be shared at AgAmerica Lending. Cruse maintains that the trait “’Open-minded’ is where agricultural finance needs to be,” he explained, adding “I feel it’s not there with other financial companies because they’re so product-driven.” AgAmerica Lending, however, offers a unique blending of integrity and ingenuity in lending. “I feel, with our range of products, and the open-mindedness of management, we can strategize, structure and use flexibility to help more people meet their financial goals.” In short, Chuck Cruse and AgAmerica Lending are striving to be the land lenders that those in the agriculture industry can rely on.
As the nation’s premier land lenders, AgAmerica Lending works with agribusinesses big and small to help them grow and succeed using low interest rates, long amortizations, and an outstanding 10-year line of credit.