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Rob Guinn sitting at a desk

Rob Guinn, CEO, sitting at his desk

Growing up on a beef and dairy farm in southwest Missouri during the 1980s taught Rob Guinn a lot about life, a lot about his future.

It was what first spawned his love for production agriculture. It was where he first learned the value of hard work, helping his dad care for livestock and bucking square bales for a hay crew. 

It’s also where he came to realize that the agricultural economy would likely keep him from returning to the family farm after college. 

Yet, it was that framework that helped form the foundation of the man that would come to be FCS Financial’s chief executive officer on Jan. 1, 2023. 

Early Lessons

Rob graduated high school during the 1980s farm crisis which made his choice of returning to the family farm or pursuing higher education an easy one. The farm would not be able to sustain an additional family. Wanting to stay in the agriculture field, he attended Crowder College and the University of Missouri-Columbia where he received his bachelor’s in agriculture economics. After graduation he entered the workforce in his first “real job” with what was then Farm Credit Services of Western Missouri. 

June 1, 1993, launched the beginning of Guinn’s career with the farm lending institution. Donned in a suit that he says still smelled brand new, he recalls sitting in the parking lot on that first day waiting to enter the office feeling uncomfortable in a suit and carrying a briefcase. 

“It was just a change,” Guinn says. “I mean, you just weren’t comfortable there yet.”

Admittedly scared to death of the customer service staff with which he’d be working, Guinn identified early-on one tenured employee who would become his best mentor. Convinced it was her life’s mission to whip Guinn into shape, he spent his first few days on the job easing his fears of the person that he refers to now as a “very dear lady.”

“She probably taught me more about making loans and serving customers than anyone else in my career,” Guinn says of the now-retired employee his kids fondly called ‘Granny Karen.’

The infancy of Guinn’s career found work focused on building capital and earnings and strengthening the business portfolio as the economy recovered from the 80s farm crisis. 

“One thing I’ve really seen change in our organization and in our staff since then is our true focus on the cooperative mentality and cooperative spirit,” Guinn is quick to point out.

That change brings a smile to his face. In the beginning of his career, Farm Credit customers were just that — customers. Today, those customers are recognized as member-owners as FCS Financial demonstrates the cooperative principles including patronage payments to its members. 

Forward Thinker

Settled into his role, it didn’t take Guinn long to recognize that he truly believed in the Farm Credit mission.

“I knew that the cooperative ownership model fit my personality and my style,” Guinn explains. 

With that in mind, he began to think about what it might be like to one day lead the organization. His aspirations set; he knew the journey would be one that didn’t happen overnight. 

A product of FCS Financial’s Marketplace department starting out as a loan officer and later leading market facing teams, Guinn is most comfortable in that realm. Still, he realizes he can’t be an expert in all areas of the business. That’s when relying on others is most critical, he says, as they provide valuable insight and counsel.

“Through my whole career, with the goal of higher-level leadership in mind, I’ve always taken very deliberate steps to try to move that forward,” Guinn says. “I have always taken advantage of every leadership opportunity that’s been put in front of me. I always really tried to gain exposure and experience and contribute at a level that was above my current role to try to continue to move in that direction.”

Engaged Leader

Guinn admittedly loves what he does and sometimes finds it hard to pull himself away from his work. But he and his wife, Jill, maintain close ties with their four adult children. Monthly family dinners include children, spouses and grandchildren. And despite upcoming transitions with becoming empty-nesters and relocating, the Guinns set aside one day a week to worship and spend time together. 

Know your values. Know your goals. Know your ethics. Once given that advice, those words have served Guinn well in life and along his leadership journey at FCS Financial. Combined with looking to find what he calls his “true north,” Guinn works to make decisions based on that. 

And when the decisions get tough, Guinn was once told to put himself five years down the road. 

“Then, look backwards and reflect on that,” he explains. “A lot of times, the answer will become very clear of the decision that you’re trying to make.”

First and foremost, Guinn says it’s the people with whom he works that make him most proud to work at FCS Financial. By surrounding himself with good people that he can trust, Guinn looks to take their counsel and advice as he presses on in the role of chief executive officer. 

But it’s not only the FCS Financial staff.  It’s the people the cooperative serves.  The farm and ranch families of Missouri – small and large, generational and brand new to the industry.  “FCS Financial has provided me the opportunity to work with many farmers and ranchers watching operations grow and the next generation join the business,” Guinn reflects. “It has been an honor to help them and now have the chance to lead the organization and continue that service for future Missouri farmers and ranchers.”  

“It’s our mission,” he concludes. “I truly believe in what we do. I think what we do is very worthy, and I think we make a difference.”

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