Jim Smidel was a small dairy farmer who felt he was not making enough money to support his family. At the age of 34, Jim wanted a more fulfilling career with a better income.
While taking a Farm Management and Production course at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, Jim took a class in Agricultural Accounting. He discovered an interest in accounting so he enrolled in the Accounting associate degree program.
“I enjoyed the challenge of going back to school and getting good grades, because who wants to hire an average accountant?” Jim asked. “I also enjoyed the teachers and my class mates who were people of all ages.”
Jim was surprised at how rigorous the classes were. “I remember the Payroll Accounting teacher saying four-year college accounting students come back to her class to learn Payroll for their new jobs, because the four-year colleges never specialized in payroll.”
The class scheduling allowed Jim to run the farm while he got his degree. During a college break in 1999, he applied and was hired at Baylake Bank. Jim was able to work at the bank part-time during his final year at NWTC.
“Upon my graduation in May of 2000, I had a full-time job waiting for me and was hired as a Loan Officer,” he recalled. “I was trained in consumer lending and then in mortgage lending and by January of 2001 was doing consumer/mortgage lending at Baylake Bank in Kewaunee, just as the refinance boom was starting.”
Jim transitioned into Ag/Commercial Lending in 2007. In 2015, Jim became an Agricultural Lender at Investors Community Bank.
Jim never quit farming. One of his brothers joined the farm partnership to help do the work. Today they milk 210 cows and run about 600 acres. Over the years Jim has attended Wisconsin Bankers Association lending schools and the Ag Bankers conference.
In his role, Jim forms agricultural banking relationships with new customers, grows existing customer relationships and develops other business opportunities in northeast Wisconsin.
“I really like my job because I am able to help my fellow farmers with their financing needs. I grew up farming and have farmed all my life, so my favorite thing to do is talk about farming. That is a huge part of my job and it helps create a trusting relationship with my farm customers,” he concluded.