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CULLMAN, Ala. —The Alabama Farm Credit Board of Directors has named Mel Koller chief executive officer. He succeeds Ben Gore, who is retiring as CEO the end of September following a 42-year career with the rural lending cooperative.
Koller brings extensive experience in agricultural and agribusiness lending to his new role. Before joining Alabama Farm Credit, he was a vice president at Farm Credit Bank of Texas, a $23.5 billion wholesale bank that funds 14 Farm Credit lending cooperatives in five states. As association direct lending unit manager, he oversaw the credit team responsible for the bank’s direct loan relationship with its affiliated co-ops, also known as associations.
Previously Koller worked closely with Alabama Farm Credit for five years as its relationship manager at the bank. He was a pivotal part of an initiative to provide new tools and technology that streamline the lending process.
“We embraced the CEO search as an opportunity to identify the individual most capable of leading Alabama Farm Credit effectively and efficiently, and ultimately taking it to the next level,” said Board Chairman Dr. Matthew Christjohn, DVM. “Mel Koller possesses unmatched energy and enthusiasm, a meticulous strategic vision and a friendly personality that we feel will contribute to the association’s continued success.”
Earlier in his career, Koller was an agricultural production lender at Bank of the West, where he helped build a $210 million agribusiness portfolio and at Fresno Madera Farm Credit. The youngest of seven children in a farming family, the Moraga, California native holds a bachelor’s degree in agribusiness finance from California Polytechnic State University and a master’s degree in agribusiness management from Arizona State University. He also completed Louisiana State University’s Graduate School of Banking program.
Alabama Farm Credit grew tremendously under Gore’s leadership. During his 10 years as CEO, the cooperative expanded its ag lending services, increased assets by about 75 percent and doubled its staff. The growth resulted in record earnings for the co-op and record patronage refunds to its member-borrowers.
“Ben Gore took this organization to great success, constructed an exemplary staff and furthered the association’s role as a friend and servant of the community,” Christjohn said. “As a board, we strongly believe Mel will continue the great work Ben has done in leading the organization to incredible milestones year after year.”
Alabama Farm Credit finances farmers, agribusiness firms and rural landowners and is part of the Farm Credit System, a nationwide network of borrower-owned cooperatives established in 1916. Headquartered in Cullman, it serves 27 counties in northern Alabama and has offices in Albertville, Athens, Cullman, Talladega and Tuscumbia.