In 1916, in a good example of “by the people, for the people,” the U.S. Congress established a nationwide Farm Credit System to provide a reliable source of credit to farmers and ranchers. Texans embraced the system such that Texas now has more than twice the number of farms and ranches of any other state in the U.S. – nearly 250,000.
Established in 1917 as part of this national system, Lone Star Ag Credit is a full-service cooperative lender that provides financing in support of local farming and agricultural concerns. This type of institution was and is still owned by its borrowers, who are ranchers, farmers, general agribusinesses and rural homeowners. Over the years, Lone Star Ag Credit has grown to 16 offices serving rural communities in 48 counties across north and central Texas. Together, the cooperative holds $1.7 billion in assets.
Until now, a single outdated, monolithic tech solution powered the association’s website. But with the expert help of Chapel Hill’s Rivers Agency, Lone Star Ag Credit has debuted a completely overhauled site that brings new capabilities and efficiencies to this century-year-old enterprise.
Because much of the old site was hardcoded and inaccessible to Lone Star Ag Credit’s team, simple updates could take a week or two as remote administrators fielded change requests from across the network of lenders. In addition, the old site was not mobile-friendly, the loan calculator was balky and there was little accommodation for accessibility.
To make the site more inviting and functional, Rivers’ team analyzed Lone Star Ag Credit’s needs and then scoped, proposed and built out a CMS-driven WordPress site that can be easily revised by Lone Star Ag Credit’s own staff as needed, on their schedule. A complete upgrade to the look and feel implemented by Rivers modernized the user experience, enhanced accessibility, improved navigation and vastly improved functionality with streamlined forms and notifications. Instead of filling out a PDF, the customer now enters data and the site absorbs the material in real-time, passing it along to lending experts directly at the local level.
Customers also now have a loan calculator that eases the burden on bank personnel by allowing users to explore various payment options and length of terms and to print detailed amortization schedules.
The Lone Star Ag Credit website project began just prior to the nationwide lockdown intended to minimize the impact of COVID-19. Like many firms, Rivers Agency shifted to a work-from-home arrangement, which enabled the site’s design, development and launch to move forward in a timely, efficient fashion – despite a few minor distractions from spouses, significant others, kids and pets.
We all miss the camaraderie, banter and weekly catered group lunch that are the norm when we work at the office. Working from home poses a few challenges, sure, but they do not diminish our team’s deep commitment to client service, which is as big as Texas.