Summer Update
There is a lot happening at NACM Heartland -- education, information and more! This newsletter includes updates from our chair, UnitedTranzActions, BARR Credit Services, as well as our upcoming events. Keep up to date by visiting our website.
Providing Value in a Pandemic
By Steve Stahl
NACM Heartland Chair

Last September, when I was sworn in as the chair of NACM Heartland, I was focused on how the board could best move forward and achieve the goals that had been established at an earlier strategic planning session. We were doing quite well until March 13, 2020.

It is not lost on me that it was Friday the 13th when business as usual was turned on its head. It seemed surreal that our global economy was going to have to operate out of home offices that were more often than not kitchen tables or makeshift desks in the living room. As a banker, I witnessed first nervous customers and a lull in daily business. Then began the federal loan programs that kept us in the office for long days.  And, then came the reality that some customers were in trouble.  

In my many years in banking, I have always been a cash flow guy. With COVID-19, we’ve had to trust our customers more than in the past by making decisions that will assist them by deferring payments. While it’s not ideal, the only other option is to leave them past due. With cash flow being the source of repayment, things are not “normal” for a portion of the industries. And who would have ever thought that we would have a national shortage on change? Imagine going to your bank to ask them for petty cash to run your day-to-day operations and be told that we have limited availability. 

My day job prepared me well to think about how we could best serve our Heartland members. It was quickly obvious that most business people just wanted to know they weren’t alone. As the board and staff discussed the variety of ways we could help, we realized the first step would be to gather information.

Obviously, we couldn’t meet in person. However, we stepped up and resolved this by having Zoom meetings. Whether it was for your respective exchange group or the Roundtables that we’ve been doing, I am proud to say that the attendance has been better than anticipated. While each of our industries has been impacted, it still remains the people of these groups that makes me proud to be part of this organization.  

At the beginning of COVID, I felt that each person on the roundtable calls just wanted to hear what was happening with other businesses/industries, but it has moved beyond to an area where there is a useful exchange of information. This has been, and remains, a learning experience for all of us. And it still comes back to the members asking questions and sharing information. More than once we’ve had members say they wouldn’t have tracked something, or we wouldn’t have considered this, or these calls have really helped me.

Since April 1, we have hosted nine webinars and virtual roundtables that were specifically COVID related. Collectively, there were more than 530 participants.  These numbers do not include the special supplemental meetings of our credit exchange groups, which were well attend. Our webinar lineup featuring Chad Hart, an ag economist from Iowa State; United TranzAction, our preferred payments vendor; Chris Kuehl, an economist; and the Dairy Farmers of America. 

What impressed me during these webinars, and even now, is how we have stayed focused even with “all the noise around us.” We have facilitated the exchange of data, information and support just as we have always intended. I sincerely believe as an organization we haven’t missed a beat as we moved from in-person meetings to virtual meetings. 

So now we are four months removed from the start of business changing pandemic. I had hoped we would be further along in recovery because I have been looking forward to seeing each of you and shaking hands again. But, the reality is we have a long way to go.

Covid has made us all think outside the box. I see us as continuing to serve the members in the same diligent manner that we have in the past – whether it continues in a virtual manner, or some hybrid. We are open to suggestions about how to better serve you. Whether it is a topic for a webinar, or a suggestion about how we are communicating, we want to know. Simply drop me or Maggie a note.

I cannot thank you again for being supportive and staying engaged as we continue to work through this pandemic. It is truly a pleasure to serve as the chair of your association.

Steve Stahl is the current NACM Heartland Chair and has served as a Heartland board member for seven years. He is the Credit Officer for Great Western Bank.
2020 NACM Heartland Annual Meeting

Wednesday, September 16 at 4:30 p.m.
The Patio at Johnny’s Italian Steak House
6800 Fleur Drive, Des Moines 
J oin us as we celebrate surviving (so far!) 2020. Our agenda will be short:

  • Overview of our 2020 activities
  • Recognition of Ty Knox, 2020 NACM National Chair
  • Enjoying the company of our members!

RSVP on our website  no later than Friday, Sept. 4. 
Ask the Board
What, if anything, has changed since mid-March and the beginning of the COVID-19 restrictions? What are you concerned about as we head into the second half of 2020?

Carroll Anderson
CE Investments

As owner of multiple commercial buildings in Iowa and Nebraska, I have not seen much change in my business since mid-March. I’ve experienced a vacancy rate of less than 5% and don’t expect to see much variance from this rate for the remainder of the year. While I believe the recession that was caused by COVID-19 restrictions is basically over, I predict the economy will be feeling the impacts through 2022. The good news is that interest rates have remained low, which has encouraged more lending activity. This can be a boon for investors as lower yields tend to flow more capital into the stock market.

Norman W. Honas
Helena Agri-Enterprises, LLC

We have not changed the way that we are handling credit with our customers. If a customer is not able to pay timely, we address these issues on a case by case basis. We have not been able to travel to our locations and meet with our sales staff and/or customers up to this date but would hope that some travel can occur over the coming months.   
The biggest concern going forward is low overall commodity prices. This will cause issues with our customer’s cash flow and their ability to meet all of their secured and unsecured payments. 

Jason L. Mott, CCE
MFA Incorporated
The biggest change I have had is that we are doing many more meetings virtually vs. in person. I believe virtual meetings will be more common in the future.

My primary concerns are:

  • COVID is still spreading and there is not a vaccine yet.  
  • The economy is reeling with high unemployment and an erratic stock market.  
  • An upcoming national election, which no matter the outcome, could have an impact on how we operate going forward. 

New Members

Local Seed


7-24 NACM Heartland Virtual Roundtable
7-27 Certification Exam Date
7-28 LC Series-Choosing the Right INCOTERMS for Letters of Credit
7-29 From the Legal Perspective: Where Do We Go from Here?
7-30 Financial Statement Analysis

8-5 Important and often overlooked details regarding California's Mechanic's Lien, bond claim and stop notice provisions
8-6 The UCC Filing Benefits
8-14 NACM Heartland Board Meeting
8-17 NACM Heartland Steel Group Meeting
8-21 NACM Heartland NAR- Great Lakes Region
8-27 NACM Heartland Construction Meeting
8-31 - 12-11 Accounting Online Course
8-31 - 12-4 International Credit & Risk Management Online Course

9-3 A1/Robotic Process Automation
9-4 Paperwork Deadline for November 9 exam
9-15 NACM Heartland NAR - Kansas Region
9-16 NACM Heartland Annual Meeting
9-17 NACM Heartland NAR - Iowa Region
9-21 - 9-25 Financial Statement Analysis I
9-23 NACM Heartland NAR - Minnesota Region
9-24 NACM Heartland Construction Meeting

10-5 - 10-9 Business Credit Principles
10-6 NACM Heartland Agricultural Group Meetings
10-13 NACM Heartland NAR- Ohio River Valley Region
10-14 NACM Heartland Board Meeting

11-2 - 11-5 Financial Statement Analysis 2: Credit & Risk Assessment
11-9 Certification Exam
Collection Observations of the Past Few Months
BARR Credit Services has long been a valued partner for many NACM Heartland members, but during the pandemic they have become indispensable as they have worked to create custom solutions.
“Heartland members, as a whole, operate lean credit departments, so we have always considered ourselves an extension of a credit department,” said Angie Olson, Director of Client Relations & Business Development. “This certainly proved true the past few months when we stepped in and provided support for customer service inquiries, first party collections and demand letters. Some of it was for pre-COVID debt, but we certainly handled a lot of post-COVID related activities.”
The key to success was understanding how a credit department wanted to proceed.  Most of the companies wanted soft collection efforts, with a focus on empathy and understanding these are uncertain times.  
“We were able to easily adapt demand letters and the tone of follow up calls to best suit the member,” Olson said. In addition, the BARR team worked closely with the companies to establish criteria about how to move forward.  
It is all about the communication, she said. If a company’s payment history was good in the past and they were actively seeking to make payment, then the BARR team could offer extensions. If a company had a more inconsistent history and used the pandemic as an excuse, they were allowed to begin settlement negotiations.
A company with a poor payment history is unlikely to reverse course and begin paying on time. So if a debtor is making a reasonable offer to settle now, that may be worth serious consideration as prospects of turning bad debt into cash will likely fade as time goes along.
Ryan Frisbie, Senior Account Representative, takes it a step further, noting companies should be aware that taking delinquencies to court in the current environment will require more time than ever before.
“Because of the shut-down, many courts are at full capacity, and litigation can be time consuming,” he said.  “Even before the pandemic, the legal route at times was lengthy, but now you simply don’t know when a case might be heard due to the COVID delay. I’m not discouraging use of the court system when required, there are certainly many situations where it will still prove highly beneficial to creditors. But if a viable settlement is on the table, it may be worth a second look, as we expect delays that could push out the recovery of funds, dependent on the region of the country litigation is initiated”. 
Overall, Frisbie and Olson both agree that it is way too early to know the true impact of the pandemic on collection strategies. However, the companies they work with are not painting customers with a broad stroke.
“For all the empathy and understanding going around, most companies are still standing their ground when it comes to bad debt, which is an approach I agree with.” Frisbie said. “For many this will be a key in stabilizing their receivables and bad debt during this time.”
For more information about  BARR Credit Services  visit their website.