Winemaker Dave was recently interviewed by Kristine Thomas for the Capital Press, a weekly newspaper covers farming, ranching and agriculture industries in the Pacific Northwest. He was included in a four-part series: Four Steps to Financial Health. Thomas spoke with Dave about how to choose a banker in the second part of the series.
Here’s what Dave had to say:
Recently, Dave Specter of Bells Up Winery in Newberg, Ore., evaluated several banks before deciding where to switch his accounts.
A former corporate tax attorney, Specter said when agricultural businesses are looking for a professional service provider, they should find one that specializes in the issues involving their business. He talked to other winery/vineyard owners who were similar in size to his winery operation about their experiences — both good and bad — with bankers and financial partners. Before deciding on whom to hire, he identified three potential providers and arranged meetings to introduce himself and his operation, discussed the issues he is facing and what his needs and expectations are of the provider.
“You’ll probably get a good feel for who is listening and thinking proactively on your behalf and hopefully anticipating some potential issues you’ll have in the long term,” Specter said.
On the financial side, Specter said it’s important to find a banking/financial partner that understands and is interested in working with the needs of your business, whether it’s large or small.
“We recently expanded our small winery operation to add some production equipment, which required financing. Although our needs weren’t particularly extensive and the financial fundamentals of the business are solid, we found that every large national financial institution we approached — including ones where we had established banking relationships — had no interest in working with an operation of our size,” Specter said. “Conversely, every local and regional institution welcomed us with open arms and worked hard to get us the money we needed at a reasonable rate. Those institutions ended up getting all our business, including our personal business, as a result of that experience.”