The Design Innovation Behind Schmidt Associates, Farm Credit Mid-America’s Ongoing Relationship

Signifying the early days of the United States Department of Agriculture in 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt appointed a Country Life Commission to address issues facing rural populations, including farmers’ inability to secure loans with fair terms. After many studies and bill passages, the Farm Credit system was formed throughout the nation. By 1968, banks and credit associations had paid off the federal government’s investment, and Farm Credit became wholly owned by its customers. In 1971 and with amendments added in 1980, Farm Credit institutions were now poised to offer home mortgages, leasing services, and international and rural utility lending. Also in 1980, legislation made major revisions to the structure and operations of the system, and provided financial assistance backed by the federal government. The 1990s saw Farm Credit taking more active roles in financing agricultural marketing and processing operations, as well as water and sewer loans for rural communities. Today, Farm Credit is providing more than $191B in credit and related services to farmers, agribusinesses, rural homeowners, and utility cooperatives. Throughout Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee, Farm Credit Mid-America is securing the future of rural communities and agriculture with 82 retail offices. They’re doing it by creating credit and financial services options to customer owners with a portfolio of financial products, including crop insurance, mortgages, vehicle fleets, equipment, building leases, and loans for real estate, operations, and rural living to protect family legacies during both good and challenging times. By supporting a broad range of farmers and investing in rural businesses that strengthen agriculture, they’re bolstering rural economies while expanding their own footprint.

Growing, learning together
Farm Credit Mid-America began working with Schmidt Associates in 2008 to design retail offices in four states and corporate offices in Louisville, Ky. Using BIM/Revit modeling, a prototype for the retail office in Mount Orab, Ohio, was created. This effort became the first on a long list of projects and a relationship that has endured for many years.

The new corporate office building, Lakefront Place, includes a variety of meeting spaces for all types of interaction. The 200-seat dining area with a 40-person banquet table encourages fellowship, the first-floor beverage center is strategically placed to draw people together, and the open central staircase encourages physical activity and employee interaction between floors and departments.

The Farm Credit Mid-America brand and its members are also represented throughout Lakefront Place. Each of the three floors has a different theme related to the business: the ground floor is “small town,” the second is “agriculture,” and the third is “livestock.” Artwork and conference room names on each floor are representative of their respective theme, featuring photography of members and their farming operations. The building is designed for over 700 people and features 80 conference rooms of varying sizes, a full-service cafeteria, game room, fitness room, mother’s rooms, and data center.

Our team acts as an extension of Farm Credit Mid-America to provide functional, high-quality, and branded design solutions that directly appeal to the customer.

When customers enter a Farm Credit Mid-America retail office, they are immediately made to feel welcome, no matter the location. With every new design, small tweaks are incorporated to meet ever-changing needs. While it can be challenging to manage ongoing design changes, it’s also a great opportunity within every new building to further tell a unique story.

“Working with Schmidt Associates architects has been a great partnership because the team is patient and always open to new ideas,” Head of Facility Operations Kevin Bratetic said. “Farm Credit Mid-America looks at the complete member experience, and a big part of that starts with employing a design team who embraces who we are, how we work, and like us, believes in serving others and being strong community partners.”

Servant Leadership Focus
As lead architects for Farm Credit Mid-America, Schmidt Associates was selected because of our ability to listen, communicate, understand, and deliver products that reflect the values of their organization. With every design, we achieve this by understanding what they want and how to take it from concept to a completed facility. As a result of being good stewards who are focused on servant leadership, we have maintained and strengthened our relationship.

“The design team truly has a passion for who we are, and they’re the best thing I could ask for in a partner, Bratetic said. “They really get into the weeds and go above and beyond building design while always seeking to make things better for everyone. When looking at the overall member experience, it becomes evident.”

Shared Vision and Missions
By embracing the Farm Credit Mid-America mission and vision as well as what the customers require, we found the values between our organizations align. Like Farm Credit Mid-America, we strongly support our Owners and are invested in their success. Simply understanding this has allowed us to assist in creating a clear brand with consistent messaging that employees and customers are excited to get behind.

There is also a commonality in being strong community partners. Like us, Farm Credit Mid-America’s employees can be found supporting their Owners by hosting events such as FFA, 4-H, and farmers’ markets, as well as sponsoring state fairs in the communities where they live and work. Together, these efforts have built trust and contributed to goodwill.

Getting Back to Basics
As we look to the future and continuing our partnership with Farm Credit Mid-America, we are focused on doing our parts by sharing a strong story of America’s heartland through the design of buildings and spaces that, like agriculture and rural communities, are built to last.