Is it a stretch to claim that your father built your bank? Not for Jim Heimerl. His father, Don Heimerl, was the contractor that built the Johnstown branch of Heartland Bank back when it was known as The Croton Bank. Heartland’s roots run deep in Licking County, and those roots are also securely wrapped around customers like Heimerl Farms nearly 30 years after their first account was opened.
Jim and Kathy Heimerl understand and appreciate the tried-and-true customs from years gone by and take pride in knowing that family, farming and banking relationships can be built on solid ground. Just as Heimerl Farms houses its current home-office staff in the expanded, original farmhouse of Jim’s parents bought from a Sears catalog, Heimerl Farms’ banking accounts are serviced by the Johnstown branch of Heartland Bank – the original building built in 1981 by Don.
Tradition surrounds Jim and Kathy’s livelihood as they shared their passion of 4-H and FFA (Future Farms of America) with their four children culminating in careers for two of their sons on the very ground that their grandfather farmed part-time on. Heimerl Farms has, over the years, transitioned into a farming enterprise consisting of nearly 750,000 pigs being raised by them and their farming partners, a trucking division and a network of nearly 90 employees to oversee the operations. Matt and Brad will eventually run the show, but for now, along with Rachel (Matt’s wife), they are part of a three-generation commitment to a tradition of excellence instilled by family values, hard work and dedication to feeding the world while respecting the environment.
Their mission statement provides insight to their generational experience and challenges the generations to come with a purposeful direction: “To promote Agriculture through strong family values, superior animal care, sound environmental stewardship, good community relations and solid financial decisions in order to provide a future for our family farm, our team members, and our farming partners.”
The 120 farming partners allow Heimerl Farms to take advantage of growth opportunities and strategic logistical operations not possible with just the local ground in Johnstown, Ohio. These partners located throughout Ohio supply the land and buildings for the pigs, and Heimerl Farms provides the animals, veterinarian services, feed and management solutions. Heartland Bank is also a partner to some of these “growers,” furnishing financing for barns and land. It’s a win-win for Heartland Bank and the Heimerls as both have the desire to serve customers, family and friends while remaining stewards of the communities they serve.
Serving is part of Jim’s life, “Believe in what you do, and with that, you have to participate.” As the current President of the National Pork Producers Council, Jim often makes trips to Washington, DC, leaving the farm in the capable hands of his family. He has also served on the Hartford Fair Board for 25 years and completed a term on the State Soybean Association Board. In 2012, Jim was inducted into the Licking County Agricultural Hall of Fame. Matt and Brad are similarly active serving as national officers for the American Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers and Ranchers program. The entire family has been active in 4-H at different times, and the fourth generation of Heimerls, Matt’s oldest daughter, is currently an active 4-H’er.
Heartland values these generational businesses and strives to foster collaborative relationships with all family members. Ultimately, successful businesses, whether farms or not, often believe that family is not just direct relatives. Heimerls and Heartland believe that family is much more than a lineage of individuals…it can be a group of folks bonded by like values and work ethics with a desire to serve their customers, family and friends. “I think we like the people,” shared Kathy as she reflected on her bond with the staff at her local branch and the corporate office. Heartland Bank recognized this bond some 30 years ago when Heimerl Farms became their customer, and it is still true today.
If you’d like to have a bond with your banker, stop by any one of Heartland Bank’s 16 branch locations to feel the difference that a community bank can make for you and your business or family.