Q&A with AgGeorgia Farm Credit

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Built Team
4 min
PUBLISHED: 08/1/2023

We recently spoke with Nick Hartley, the Chief Lending Officer (CLO) at AgGeorgia Farm Credit.  Prior to his promotion to CLO, Nick served in various capacities including loan officer, special assets account officer, branch manager, and regional manager. During his 15-year tenure, he witnessed firsthand the pain points associated with legacy processes that evolved into a time and resource drain, including the following: 

  • Use Excel to keep track of construction draws
  • Create a contractor’s affidavit
  • Have a check printed jointly for the borrower and contractor
  • Drive the check to the member to sign, including a statement of authorization to release the check 
  • Drive the check to the contractor at the job site  

Nick observed that many branches were doing things differently, and when training new employees, procedural flaws were evident. While major pieces and requirements were met, differences amounted to a disjointed process. The model was disorganized, inefficient, and most experienced staff were retiring. Under his leadership, Nick recognized the need for a digital solution that could scale across branch operations, ensure compliance, efficiency, and resource savings. Built delivered.

How does Built contribute to increased visibility into AgGeorgia’s portfolio? What kind of visibility is valuable to you?

What instantly drew me to the program was Built’s shared vision for a central hub location to hold all construction management data. I needed quality data to do my job. Not only does Built provide tools for centralizing and stratifying data – they also offer a means for qualifying that data based on draw history, size, builders, location, and more. 

Built allows us to have uniform, gap-free processes regardless of branch, customer, builder, borrower, and even out-of-office employees. This uniformity provides us with consistent record-keeping and document retrieval, a helpful asset when working with customers, reviewers, and auditors.

From a risk management perspective, what were the key factors that influenced your decision to select Built over other draw management solutions available in the market?

Built came to be our construction lending fintech partner through a cold call. Prior to Built, I have never purchased a product from a cold call, but they showed me the right product at the right time and one that offered immediate value.

Are there any specific risk management features or capabilities that have proven particularly valuable?

Yes, by having everything including draw requests, checklists, reporting, and inspections in one place I can be certain files are complete and procedures followed. Additionally, utilizing Built’s Marketplace Inspection Services allowed us to put inspections in the hands of trained professionals. Coming from the loan officer position, this provided a level of comfort, including current status, and the knowledge that projects are completed according to the terms of our builder and borrower agreement.

As you started with Built, did you face any challenges? If so, how were they addressed, and has the platform proven helpful in overcoming these challenges?

As part of the onboarding process, we conducted a technology security review, and training, and put a set of internal control procedures in place. Once onboarding training was complete, we held weekly calls with our Client Success Manager. The Built team provided new employee and refresher courses onsite, allowing us to build confidence in the program and processes. This training allows our employees to feel self-assured, prompts builder/ borrower platform buy-in, and increases overall efficiency. One of our onboarding challenges was working through internal preconceptions on how to manage a construction project. 

What has made the most positive impact for AgGeorgia is having a staff member assigned the role of “Built Champion.” The combination of our internal Built Champion’s efforts and our Customer Success Manager exponentially improved training, implementation, and positive outcomes. 

Looking ahead, what about this partnership excites you most?

I’m looking forward to getting more contractors and customers to use the platform. I truly believe in word-of-mouth, and this manner of handling construction loans will make us one of the premier construction lending companies in our territory. I’m also excited to see the AgFirst District moving toward Built Platform adoption. We see ourselves as an innovative association and are happy to have introduced this program to the District and Farm Credit System.

What would you tell another Ag lender considering Built for their construction loans?

Adopt the program. You’ve got nothing to lose but lost time. In a world where we are so connected with technology, we can be so disconnected in our processes from location to location. When you utilize Built, you are going to find the uniformity, efficiency, and centralization you have been missing. 


Ready to learn more?

For more information on how Built is powering smarter and faster money movement for the entire construction and real estate ecosystem, please visit https://getbuilt.com/