Peoples Company completes national expansion with two hires

Former Goldcrest and Fall Line Capital executives Tommy Funk and Thiago Lima have been brought in to take the farmland service provider’s suite of offerings into the Southeast and Southern Plains.

Peoples Company has hired a pair of executives that it says marks the competition of the company’s expansion into each major US agricultural region.

The Iowa-headquartered farmland manager and service provider hired Tommy Funk of Goldcrest Farm and Trust Advisors and Thiago Lima, formerly with Fall Line Capital. Funk will serve as land manager for Texas and Oklahoma and Lima will focus on management and acquisitions in Florida, Georgia and Alabama.

“While we continue to be focused on growing our team and breadth of experience, these two hires complete our expansion into each major US agricultural region,” Peoples Company president Steve Bruere said in a statement.

Funk told Agri Investor the role of service providers like Peoples Company within farmland markets has evolved significantly.

“Back when Goldcrest was raising money, money was fairly cheap, so it was not a big deal. You went out there and could get some capital to self-manage these properties, acquisitions, farm management, dispositions, whatever you needed to do. Now, it’s not that way,” he said. “With money being much tighter, there are probably several institutional players thinking: ‘I don’t want to go out and create an acquisition team or farm management team. I want someone that can do that for me and do it much cheaper and more efficiently.’”

Funk joined Goldcrest as president, partner and head of acquisitions and asset management in early 2014, according to his LinkedIn profile. It shows that previously, he served as a senior vice-president and national farmland acquisition manager for US Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management for less than two years after having previously spent nearly 20 years as president and chief operating officer of a 20,000 acres family ranching operation in South Texas that was sold in 2012.

While there has traditionally been some institutional investment in the Texas panhandle, East Texas and bordering regions of Oklahoma, Funk said, much of the state is comprised of vast vacant lots not in need of much management. He noted that Peoples Company’s plans for the region include deploying the full suite of its resources – including the energy unit launched in 2022.

Lima told Agri Investor the Southeast region that will be his focus has been somewhat overlooked as investors have strengthened focus on regenerative agriculture. He noted recent statistics that just 5 percent of farmland in Georgia uses cover crops as an example of initiatives likely to be a focus for him in the new role.

“In the Midwest, people have been on that road for a long time already and they have been getting the results out of it. In the Southeast, it’s way behind,” he said. “The growing season there can handle maybe three crops and you have abundance of water. You have to be careful how you handle these resources and there are huge opportunities for that in the region.”

Lima is from Brazil and joined Fall Line as a farm manager assistant in 2015 after several ag-related internships, according to his LinkedIn profile. He explained that the opportunity to join Peoples Company came after last year’s sale of the Wisconsin properties held within San Francisco-headquartered Fall Line’s 2013 fund.

Lima added that as the increasing attractiveness of other fixed income alternatives has made the farmland fundraising pitch more difficult, efficiencies possible through outsourcing land management have become more important.

“How can you buy 300 acres 1,000 miles from your nearest land manager? It’s just unfeasible, but generally those are the highest-return deals,” Lima said. “Sometimes you need to pass on a deal that is excellent, because you don’t have enough hands to manage it.”