For more than 150 years, farmers and Wells Fargo spur growth of food and agribusiness in Central California
Farming and Wells Fargo are Fresno County heirlooms and together still are planting seeds and cultivating the region’s economy today. In the 1870s, Wells Fargo began serving Central Valley farmers who grew wheat, fruit, and grapes. In fact, Wells Fargo helped market the region’s crops with promotions such as California Raisin Days and then provided shipping in Wells Fargo’s custom refrigerated railcars to consumers nationwide.
As Central California became a U.S. agriculture powerhouse, Wells Fargo grew its commitment alongside, supplying increased credit and expertise to support Fresno County farmers who now produce more than 350 commercial crops at an estimated farm gate of nearly $7 billion and account for one out of every five jobs in the Central Valley.
Today, Wells Fargo is North America’s No. 1 agriculture lender among commercial banks and is the No. 1 crop insurer, too. Wells Fargo Commercial Banking provides specialized agriculture lending to food and agribusiness customers – including farmers, ranchers, producers, and processors – with annual revenues of more than $20 million. In addition to working capital and insurance, Wells Fargo provides real estate financing, equipment leasing, trade finance, investment banking and international banking.
“We’re committed to understanding our clients and their goals and serving them with local knowledge, broad industry perspective, and industry-leading solutions through all economic cycles,” said Scott Rhodes, the Fresno-based regional head for Wells Fargo Commercial Banking.
Wells Fargo’s roots are those of a local bank in one community that does business on Main Street and grew into a family of many local banks in many communities that only then became national. In Fresno County, Wells Fargo focuses on getting to know local businesses and building long-term relationships.
Ken Ramos, head of Wells Fargo Business Banking in Central California – whose team serves local businesses with annual revenues between $2 million and $20 million – said that Wells Fargo is a national bank that behaves like a smaller bank.
“We understand our local communities and our local customers’ needs,” Ramos added. “For Fresno County businesses, that means our local Wells Fargo relationship teams connect customers to a big range of products and services, and we make recommendations that help them achieve their goals.
“Some of us grew up on farms and have even taken over the family business, so we understand the unique issues that Valley farmers, dairymen, and small business owners face,” Ramos said. “For us, the success of our fellow farmers and agribusiness companies is personal. When they thrive, we thrive.”
Wells Fargo’s Business Banking office in Fresno serves 16 Central California counties and 80 cities. More than 2,600 customers are served throughout the territory by about 50 business banking team members. About 20 work in the Fresno office.
“We understand the community, especially the agricultural industry, and the trends here. Our team knows where it can help add value and where the opportunities are,” said Ramos.
Wells Fargo believes in investing in the community it serves. Last year, the financial services provider invested more than $1 million in Fresno County schools and nonprofits; its team members volunteered more than three thousand hours in Fresno County alone.
“We aren’t just in the community, we’re part of it,” said Ramos. “It’s what makes us different and a great partner in Fresno County.”
Friends of the Family Farm Spotlight Profile: Ag Today, May 14
By: Katie Rodgers