Case Study: Agriculture
Family farm updates its accounting methods to ensure continued success
There was a time, for generations, when the Fetter family, of Marion, Ohio, kept ledgers for the family farm by hand, in red and black ink. Everything was being done in ledgers and binders, and while it was very well organized, something needed to change.
That change began happening in the early 2000s. As the family farm transitioned to Wyatt Fetter and his brother Bill, they realized they needed to update their accounting practices. “The books” transitioned from Wyatt and Bill’s parents to Wyatt’s wife, Sue Fetter. The Fetters were also transitioning from running just one business — the family farm — to overseeing three of them. Wyatt and Bill started an LLC to manage some aspects of the farm, and the next year, the family added a construction business to create an additional revenue stream during the off-season.
But the Fetters soon realized the operation was more involved and bigger than they had anticipated.
“I never knew how involved it really was, and then it just got bigger as we added the other two companies,” Sue Fetters says.
Intimidated by the volume of the work and the steep learning curve, the Fetters turned to The Shealy Group for assistance.
When the Fetters were looking to update their system in 2000, The Shealy Group suggested using QuickBooks, and the Fetters were very receptive. Soon, everything was being done on the computer, and although Sue Fetter had no accounting background, Sue Bennett at The Shealy Group made her feel comfortable moving into the new technology.
Sue Fetter started using the system, relying on the personal service to navigate the new software.
“I always get my answer,” says Fetter. “I’m not just a number. The Shealy Group is like my right arm.”
Beyond setting up a computerized accounting system, The Shealy Group also helps the family communicate with lenders and ensures that numbers are up to date, so the family can make informed purchasing decisions about things such as equipment and chemicals.
The Shealy Group has an excellent relationship with lending institutions in the area, and it knows what the banks are looking for and can help family farms meet those criteria. In addition, the firm has assisted with payroll and profit analysis.
By partnering with The Shealy Group, the Fetters are better able to make sense of all the numbers. As a result, they have seen a significant decrease in IRS issues. And if there is an issue, they are confident turning to The Shealy Group to resolve the issue in their favor.
In addition to creating an overall strong financial picture, Sue Fetter says that working with The Shealy Group has brought her family invaluable peace of mind.
“There’s such a trust there and such a confidentiality there — we just don’t have worries,” she said. “My husband went to college for accounting, and still, he relies on Sue Bennett and The Shealy Group.”
Fetter says her family’s 16-year relationship with Bennett and firm President David Shealy is like a professional friendship. They have been so pleased with the results of the partnership that they have recommended The Shealy Group to both family and friends.
“Their commitment is amazing — you don’t feel any less important as a 100-acre farmer than if you were a 100,000-acre farmer,” Fetter says. “It’s not about how much or how big you are, it’s about that fit and how well they can take your business and make it run so smoothly. It’s never stuffed shirts or designer shoes. It’s doing what your business needs.”