Meet Dawn Garms, Mortgage Lender at Merchants

Garms,DawnWhen did you start your banking career?

Dawn: I started as a mortgage Lender with Altra in 2001. I was there for twelve years and then came to Merchants in 2013.

What is your top tip for a first time home-buyer?

Dawn: Get pre-approved first. Pre-approval helps you determine the maximum amount you can spend to purchase a home. You can also go over what to expect for monthly payments, down payments and other mortgage options with a lender at that time. It really gives you a clear picture of what you can afford and how that fits into what you’re comfortable with for your personal monthly budget.

What’s one thing your mom or dad taught you about money?

Dawn: The best thing they taught me is the importance of knowing your finances. Know what you can handle so that you are comfortable in your monthly budget.

If you won the Powerball, what’s the first thing you would do?

Dawn: I would travel all over Europe for an extended period of time, and explore all of the different countries.

Besides money, what’s your favorite green thing?

Dawn: The green of fresh trees on a mountain hike.

What’s one lesson you learned when buying your own home?

Dawn: Use a lender that is knowledge so they can guide you through the process. Buying a home should not cause a headache…it should be a smooth, pain-free process.

Subject to credit approval. Contact Dawn today to get start the application process for mortgage pre-approval. To find current mortgage rates and apply online, visit our website.

Meet Tom Stahl, Senior Consumer Banker at Merchants

StahlTomWhen did you start your banking career?

Tom: I’ve been in lending with Merchants Bank since December 1988. I started at the Winona location and worked there for two years. Then I moved to La Crescent in January of 1991 and have been here ever since.

What one piece of advice would you give someone looking to apply for a HELOC?

Tom: Do your homework. A HELOC is basically a big credit card with a lot better rate, but the rate can change and some customers don’t understand that. It’s also good to have a firm dollar amount that you’re going to need for your home improvements.

What’s one thing your mom or dad taught you about money?

Tom: Simply, don’t spend what you don’t have. Don’t overextend yourself. Borrow responsibly.

If you won the Powerball what’s the first thing you would do?

Tom: I’d set a charitable foundation up. I know that sounds kind of funny, but it’s truly what I’d do. It would be a nice opportunity to give back.

Besides money, what’s your favorite green thing?

Tom: The grass at Target Field. I love baseball.

If you could start a home remodeling project right now, what would it be and why?

Tom: A sunroom….it would be somewhere to relax.

Contact Tom today to start the application process for your Home Equity Line of Credit. For more information on HELOC options at Merchants Bank, visit our website.

Meet Connie Fort, Assistant Manager of Consumer Loans at Merchants

Connie and her husband, Tim

Connie and her husband, Tim, at the Grand Canyon

When did you start your banking career?

Connie: Twenty-six years ago I started at Merchants in Winona as a Commercial Lending Assistant. I knew that I wanted to get into lending, so I switched and became a Customer Service Representative. I stayed in Customer Service for seven years and then became a Credit Analyst. During that time, I learned that I was the kind of person who wanted to be in front of customers. A few years later, the Consumer Lender position opened up and I’ve been here for ten years now. Before Merchants, I worked at a brewery in La Crosse…can you believe that?

What one piece of advice would you give someone looking to apply for a HELOC?

Connie: Make sure to check your credit rating. There are a few websites that allow you to download a free credit report and you can bring in the report and we can go through it together. It’s also helpful if you come with an idea of how much you want to borrow and then together we can determine how much equity you have in your home.

What’s one thing your mom or dad taught you about money?

Connie: To save, save, save. You do not buy anything until have saved for it. My parents were very frugal with their money and they passed that on to me and my two sisters.

If you won the Powerball what’s the first thing you would do?

Connie: I would buy a cabin up north. We love to be outdoors…just canoeing or spending time on the lake. It’s just an awesome way to relax and forget about everything.

Besides money, what’s your favorite green thing?

Connie: When I think of green, I think of Spring and the pretty trees and blooming flowers.

If you could start a home remodeling project right now, what would it be and why?

Connie: I want to change my bedroom because we don’t have a master bath. We’ve found out that when we have family visiting and we have to share the same bathroom it can become difficult.

Contact Connie today to start the application process for your Home Equity Line of Credit. For more information on HELOC options at Merchants Bank, visit our website.

Tortilla Roll-Ups

BlogRecipe-TortillaRollups

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1 package cream cheese, softened
  • 12 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 package dry Ranch dressing mix
  • chopped onion, if desired
  • 8-10 (8-inch) flour tortillas
  • extra salsa

 

Directions:

Combine all ingredients and spread a thin layer of mix on each tortilla. Roll tortillas and refrigerate 30 minutes. Cut rolls into bite-sized pieces and serve with salsa.

 

Merchants Family Cookbooks are available at all Merchants Bank locations for $15. Proceeds benefit local food shelf programs.

Access Your Accounts 24/7 with Mobile Banking

Merchants Bank, Mobile Banking, Online Banking

Whether you’re at home, work, school, out running errands, or on vacation, Merchants Mobile Banking makes it convenient to keep track of your finances. Check balances, view recent transactions, transfer funds, find branch and ATM locations, and more.

Follow the steps below to download the Merchants Bank Mobile app for Android phones or iPhones. In order to use the Merchants Bank Mobile app, you must be an Online Banking customer. To enroll in Online Banking, enroll online or contact our Electronic Banking Department at (866) 496-0522.

For Android:

  1. Open the Google Play Store app on your phone.
    Step1
  2. Select Apps from the Google Play Store home screen.
    Step2
  3. Type Merchants Bank NA in the search bar.
    Step3
  4. Select the Merchants Bank NA app from the list that appears.
    Step4
  5. Select Install.
    Step5
  6. Select Accept to allow the app access to your location for the ATM/branch locater.
    Step6
  7. The app will begin downloading to your phone.
  8. When complete, select Open and you will be taken to the home screen of the Merchants Bank Mobile app.
    Step8a  Step8b

For iPhone:

  1. Open the App Store app on your phone.
    Step1
  2. Touch “Search” icon at bottom of screen.
    Step2
  3. Type Merchants Bank NA in the search bar.
    Step3
  4. Touch Get.
    Step4
  5. If required, enter Apple ID and password
  6. The app will begin downloading to your phone.
    Step5
  7. When complete, select Open and you will be taken to the home screen of the Merchants Bank Mobile app.
    Step6   Step6a

Listening to the Customer

Merchants Bank, Business Loans

Yer Yang and William Moua, owners of Rollingstone Mini Mart.

If you were to ask William Moua and Yer Yang the secret to their success at the Rollingstone Mini Mart, they would tell you it’s been listening to their customers since they purchased the store in 2004.

The couple keeps their prices affordable. They offer hot food, convenience items, a small liquor store and fuel. They’ve been rewarded with customers who have made their store an important part of Rollingstone.

“Without this store, it would be a little harder for the people in town. We have something that they need,” Moua said. “I’d say we know 95 percent of our customers by name.”

So, when Moua’s customers told him they’d have no reason to go into Winona, if Moua and Yang would add a Laundromat, the couple decided to make the addition. The problem was, no one listened closely enough to them at first when they were looking for a loan.

Saved $8,000 in Fees

That was until they followed a recommendation from Project FINE and went to Merchants Bank and met Business Banker Greg Borcherding.

Moua had been told by a bigger bank that it would take three months just to find if he’d been approved for a loan, and up to three more months to complete the process.  Borcherding turned the loan around quickly and structured the loan in a way that saved Moua and Yang over $8,000 in fees.

Moua said he liked the way Borcherding treated them. “It’s personal with him,” Moua said. “He’s easy to work with, knowledgeable and very helpful.”

For Borcherding, the pleasure was all his. “They’re very nice people, hardworking and the place is always busy,” Borcherding said. “It’s important to the Rollingstone community.”

Moua said he wouldn’t hesitate in recommending Borcherding to other small business owners.“I’ve worked with many bankers, and Greg has been the best for me. I give him an A plus,” Moua said.

Merchants Banks offers business financing options for your specific needs. Click here to learn more.

Loans are subject to credit approval.

Celebrate Community Banking Month with Us at these April Events

Merchants Bank, Community Events

Our staff invites you to join them at these great events throughout April. Be sure to follow us on our Facebook page for information on these events or pictures from other events you may have missed.

4/17 Caledonia’s Community Banking Month Celebration
“Come Experience the Difference”: 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
At Merchants Bank in CaledoniaPlease celebrate Community Banking Month with us and enjoy lunch in our lobby.
4/24 Spring Grove’s Community Banking Month Celebration
“Come Experience the Difference”: 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Please celebrate Community Banking Month with us and enjoy lunch in our lobby.
4/30 Lakeville’s 10-Year Anniversary Celebration: 4:30 – 7:00 p.m.
At Merchants Bank in Lakeville
Stop by and celebrate our 10-year anniversary at Merchants Bank in Lakeville.