Welcome Devin Fuhrman, vice president, Sponsor Relations, with Nationwide for this month’s Sponsor Spotlight.
Devin, would you please explain your role with Nationwide Sponsor Relations?
I lead Sponsor Relations in cultivating relationships that build relevance and trust in agriculture and rural communities, creating business environments that support mutually beneficial and purposeful growth.
What is your connection to agriculture?
I grew up in Iowa and have been connected to farming starting with my grandpa and then my dad when we took over full time in 1988. I participated in FFA and was our chapter’s sentinel, vice president and president.
Upon graduation from college, I started my career in sales at a local farmer’s cooperative as an agronomist with Heartland Coop in Dallas Center, Iowa.
Within my Nationwide career, I eventually became the associate vice president of Sales for Nationwide Agribusiness serving the 11 states in the Western Region.
How did you come to work for Nationwide Sponsor Relations?
I began my career with Nationwide in 2006 as the sales development officer for Allied Insurance (the independent agency division of Nationwide at that time).
Throughout my career, I followed the growth and development of Nationwide Agribusiness and found ways to partner with their teams on growing our farm insurance business in areas I was responsible for.
Networking was the key to staying involved and engaged with that part of Nationwide’s business as I felt that part of the company would be a good fit for me given my background and appreciation for agriculture.
I joined Nationwide Agribusiness in 2014. As part of my responsibility leading sales, I spent a lot of time in California where I first learned of the tremendous depth and importance of our relationships with Farm Bureau.
When the opportunity came around for me to join Sponsor Relations, the move made a lot of sense. Moving to Ohio, building a relationship with OFBF and our other state Farm Bureau partners, and participating in rich history, heritage and founding story of Nationwide has been one of the most fulfilling components of my career and years at Nationwide.
Nationwide has been a partner with the Ohio Farm Bureau since 1955. Why do you continue to partner with Ohio Farm Bureau?
Nationwide has been a partner since 1926 when Nationwide, formerly known as Farm Bureau Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, sold its first policy. It was in 1955, Farm Bureau Mutual changed its name to Nationwide with the aspirations of selling products coast to coast.
Nationwide continues its partnership with Ohio Farm Bureau (and eight other Farm Bureau states), because it’s still important to help protect what’s most important to people – and we know for farmers, their family, land, equipment, buildings and family’s future are very important
About half of the Nationwide Board of Directors are farmers or work in the ag industry. We utilize their expertise and our partnership with the Farm Bureau to build products and services to protect a farmer’s future.
Can you tell us about the Land as Your Legacy program and why did Nationwide invest in this program?
Land as Your Legacy was created when one of our board member’s family members passed away and did not have a farm transition plan in place; Nationwide realized this was a pain point seeing that only 29% of family farms have a transition plan in place (Source: 2016 US Farm succession plans and the process of transferring land ownership. Agriculture & Applied Economics Assoc. Annual Meeting)
As the No. 1 farm and ranch insurer in the nation, Nationwide feels it’s our responsibility to provide a program and resources to help successfully transition the farm as the owner wishes
Land as Your Legacy utilizes trained Nationwide financial advisors to take families through five elements of a transition plan: succession planning, business planning, risk management, financial independence planning and estate planning
What additional retirement planning resources and solutions do you provide for those specifically in agriculture?
Social Security Planning: Help farmers understand this benefit and how to qualify for it based on how farm income is reported year to year
Health Care in Retirement & Long-term Care: We educate members about these topics and how to prepare for one of the biggest retirement expenses
Life Insurance: A critical tool used by farming families to help protect their financial well-being; Nationwide has relaxed several underwriting guidelines for farmers
Annuities: Can help provide the income you need to maintain your life style during the farm transition years, while allowing for more of the operational income to be passed on to the next generation
Mutual Funds: Can help protect against potentially bad financial years. Mutual funds may also make it easier to transition your operations to the next generation when the time is right
The KEY is talking to your Nationwide agent and advisor about what products and solutions are best for you, your family and farm!
What do you enjoy most about working with Farm Bureaus?
No question…it’s the people. Being able to work alongside individuals or organizations who care for their community and support the growth and prosperity of their members through strong advocacy, education and economic/social advancement.
My background (the way I was raised) and the way I enjoy building business and futures aligns with the core of who Farm Bureau is – faith, family, hard work and a healthy balance of self-reliance and dependence on others.
I’m still very passionate about cooperative business models that were the original idea of the Farm Bureau. Our mutual founder, Murray Lincoln, is well known within the cooperative community and he shared our passion for growth and the benefits that come from doing more together than we could ever do alone.
What is one thing that Farm Bureau could do to better serve its members?
Never stop innovating! In the beginning, the very idea of the Farm Bureau was an innovative (and at sometimes controversial) idea. Our industry, individual farms and businesses as well as communities continue to change at rapid pace – the only way to advance and continue to lead through change is to be adaptive and seek out new ways to connect, remain relevant and maintain the trusted bonds that allow us to do what our members and communities need from us now and into the future.
Amplify the competitive advantages and value Farm Bureau provides through the grassroots structure. This capability is unique and special. Anything we are able to do to enhance or leverage through this operating model creates a clear distinction and accentuates the influence the Farm Bureau has in meeting/exceeding its mission.
What outlets do you use to keep up on agriculture trends and information?
Various periodicals, newsletters, seminars and broadcasts. I must have about 35-40 subscriptions to recognizable and credible organizations.
Networks both inside the organizations I belong to, support or serve as well as groups and people outside of my internal network that provide alternative outlets of opinions and information.
What are some activities/programs you recommend alumni to participate in if they want to become more active in the agricultural industry?
Never stop learning. Seek out education opportunities both in and outside your spectrum of interest. Never be afraid to take a class or attend a seminar you don’t know much about – you’ll be surprised as to how much you gain from those experiences.
If you are inclined or have a desire to lead – take the big (and sometimes scary) step and volunteer on other boards, chair committees, manage a project or run for office roles on your boards. Each of these experiences is a tremendous way to round out your experiences.
If you could give your younger self any professional advice, what would it be?
Take a class and practice public speaking earlier in life. No question, I still get nervous right before I provide public comments and I don’t expect that will ever go away. But, the more I get out there and do it – the more I enjoy it and hope that through my comments I’m able to move something along, inspire others or help my organization or the organization I’m speaking with to advance.
There are two components to success in business that I firmly believe to be critical – teamwork and servant leadership. I wish would have understood that sooner in my career.
What is your favorite leadership book/podcast?
Tools of the Titans, by Tim Ferris – this is a collection of podcast transcripts where Mr. Ferris interviews a motley crew of leaders and influencers. It’s a big book, but you can literally open it up to any of the chapters, read the transcript and get something out of it.
Anything else you would like to share with AgriPOWER Alumni?
I sincerely appreciate this opportunity and if there’s anything myself or my team can do to help you, please let us know.
2020 will be our third year of supporting local FFA advisors and ag educators in the state of Ohio with the Golden Owl Award. Sponsored by Ohio FFA, Ohio Farm Bureau Federation and Nationwide.
- With the Golden Owl Award, students, fellow teachers and other supporters can nominate their favorite agricultural teacher and summarize what makes him or her the best in their state. Nominees can win the distinction of being their state’s Agricultural Educator of the Year and the following prizes:
- $500 and an engraved plaque to each honoree2
- $3,000 and the coveted Golden Owl Award trophy to each state’s grand prize winner2 (Agricultural Educator of the Year)
- In conjunction with the Golden Owl Award, Nationwide is donating $5,000 to each participating state’s FFA to further support the personal and professional growth of students, teachers and advisors alike.
1SNL Financial, 2018 (National) Market Share Report.
2In accordance with Ohio law, cash prizes in Ohio are awarded to the winners’ school ag programs.