Merchants Financial Group, Inc. Posts First Half Net Income of $6,104,872

WINONA, Minn. – Merchants Financial Group, Inc. (MFGI) posted net income of $6,104,872 for the first half of 2013, according MFGI President & CEO Richard L. Mahoney.

“The positive work of our employees over the past several years and over the first six months of this year continue to enhance the value of Merchants Bank,” Mahoney said. “I look forward to their continued great work as we move toward meeting our goals.”

Net income through the first six months is still ahead of plan. It is slightly behind last year’s net income of $6,183,933. Merchants had record profit in 2012 with net income of $12.439 million. Current asset size is $1.3 billion, and Merchants remains in an excellent equity position.

“We continue to look closely at opportunities that become available and fit with our long-term plan,” Mahoney said. Mahoney recently announced his retirement at the end of the year. He will be succeeded by Winona Charter President and MFGI Executive Vice President Rod Nelson.

Merchants stock is closely held, but is available to the public when shares become available. There are approximately 400 shareholders, mostly individuals and families from southeastern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin. Merchants also has an Employee Stock Ownership Program (ESOP).

Password Security Tip

While your children’s names, pet’s name, address, phone number, favorite sports team, favorite actor or actress, vacation spot, etc., are very memorable, there’s one thing they are not: good passwords. Most criminals can figure them out without much difficulty, and those criminals can also find those passwords when written down. So, what do you think is a secure password? A mixture of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. A good tip is including at least three special characters before, after or within a password. For additional security tips, visit our website.

FHA Loans: What You Should Know

If you want to buy a home and are wondering what is an FHA loan, here’s an answer. An FHA loan is a loan backed by the Federal Housing Administration. Generally speaking, more people can qualify for an FHA loan than a conventional loan with income limits being less restrictive than some programs. However, there are limits on how much you can borrow. You’re limited to smaller mortgage loans relative to home prices in your area. To qualify for an FHA loan, you’ll need to have a reasonable debt to income ratio. Simply said, the lender needs to know that you can afford to pay back the loan. In addition, you have to have decent credit. So, how do you know? The first step is to come to any of the mortgage loan professionals at the Merchants Bank location most convenient for you. Click here for a list of our locations and hours. Loans are subject to credit approval.

Still want to know more? View our informational video: FHA Loans: What You Should Know

“Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” Receives $396 in Merchants Bank’s 10 for 10 Celebration

ONALASKA, WIS. – “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” was the June recipient of Merchants Bank in Onalaska’s 10 for 10 program, receiving a check of $396 for contributions made in June.

“Walk a Mile in Her Shoes,” is a collaborative effort of the YWCA and the Carilee Fund at Gundersen Lutheran.

“It’s a great cause, and we enjoyed raising funds for this program, as well as raising awareness for the July 5 event,” said Steve Christiansen, President of Merchants Bank in Onalaska. Christiansen and several other team members from Merchants Bank took part in this year’s walk.

The 10 for 10 celebration features a different area nonprofit each month. Merchants grants the nonprofit $10 a day for each day of the month and matches up to another $10 a day that the nonprofit receives in donations over the month. Merchants granted $300 for June and matched another $48 dropped off at the Bank for the benefit of “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes.”

“Anything we can do to raise awareness of domestic violence is well worth our time. We are happy to help in any way we can,” Christiansen said.

The July nonprofit featured is the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southeastern Minnesota and Western Wisconsin.

Read about this and other news by visiting our website.

Merchants Bank Business Bankers Complete Training that Promotes Greater Flexibility in Making Loan Decisions

HarrisonCindyWINONA, Minn. – Business bankers throughout the entire Merchants Bank organization completed online training and an intensive three-day workshop designed as a comprehensive analysis process on extending credit to small business borrowers.

“Omega training allows our bankers to better understand the credit needs of small business borrowers and better serve them,” said Senior Vice President and Credit Administration Manager Cindy Harrison.

The Omega Training program teaches bankers to better consider the business and related personal factors that impact creditworthiness and the ability to repay.

“Specifically as it relates to small business, the training helps us to consider other factors than just the balance sheet when it comes to making a loan,” Harrison said. “This makes the loan experience more personal for the customer and the banker, and that’s what community banking is all about.”

Merchants stock is closely held, but is available to the public when shares become available. There are approximately 400 shareholders, mostly individuals and families from southeastern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin. Merchants also has an Employee Stock Ownership Program (ESOP).

Read about this and other news at Merchants by visiting our website.

All that Glitters is Not Gold


There are some businesses that operate on the edge of the truth. You know them. You see them throughout the media, populating the web and video. While what they are saying may have some truth to it, it may not be the whole truth.

These companies will give something of value for your investment (though not nearly to the level of your investment). Because of that, many of these companies are legal and operate legitimately, albeit at the edge of legitimacy.

What we are asking you to do is to be skeptical of the claims these companies make. Use your common sense. The old adage remains true: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

For instance, there’s a company that sells “historical bonds,” claiming they have exceptional value. They do have value as collector’s items, but nothing more. The bonds were paid off in the 1800s after a bankruptcy. Another company claims that being a member can help you stop a mortgage foreclosure and your loan can be paid in full. You do receive some value for your “membership,” but the company often falls short of its claims.

There are several resources that can help you stay on guard against potential scams, such as the U.S. Treasury Fraud Alerts page, or our Merchants Bank security page, or our Alerts page. Protect yourself and your family by taking the time to understand what is being offered and your true costs.

Read or subscribe to our monthly eNewsletter.

July is Fun in the Sun Time

July EventsThe fun activities keep coming this summer at Merchants Bank. Check out the Calendar of events to find out whats happening near you! Visit our Facebook page to see whats coming or what you might have missed. We look forward to seeing you soon.
Calendar of Events
May 20-November 11 – Troll Patrol in Spring Grove, look for clues on Facebook or in the Spring Grove bank.
July 4 – Happy Independence Day.
July 4 – Eitzen Parade, noon, in Eitzen, MN  
July 5 – Onalaska Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, 3rd annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event takes place at Riverside Park in Onalaska. Registration begins at 9 a.m.
July 7 – Cannon Falls Bears vs. Red Wing Aces starting at 2 p.m. The game will be played at John Burch Park in Cannon Falls. Come and cheer your team on.
July 10-14 – Winona County Fair in St. Charles. Merchants Bank in St. Charles sponsors the Winona County Dairy Cattle Showcase, Lions Food Stand, Entertainment Tent, 4-H Auction, and operates golf cart parking lot shuttle service.
July 13Lakeville Pan-O-Prog Parade, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
July 19 – Cottage Grove Community Appreciation takes place form 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Merchants Bank in Cottage Grove.
July 20-21 – Cannon Falls Art and Wine Festival, wine tasting takes place from noon – 4 p.m. both days. Art Show hours are 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. both days. Merchants Bank is the title sponsor of the event at Hannah’s Bend Park.
July 24 – Rosemont Community Appreciation, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Dont miss out on the fun time at Merchants Bank in Rosemount.
July 26 – Hampton Community Appreciation, 11 a.m.- 3 p.m., Merchants Bank in Hampton.
July 27Rosemount Leprechaun Days Parade, 11 a.m.

Help us welcome the new faces at Merchants Bank

New to MerchantsAt Merchants Bank, we are committed to providing you with the best customer service as possible. We want you to be satisfied with all of your banking needs. To ensure that all of your needs are met, we hired qualified employees to help make the most of your banking experience. Please join us in welcoming the new front-line members of the Merchants Bank team.
Tamara Baker joined the staff at Merchants Bank in Cottage Grove as a Lead Teller. Tamara previously worked at US Bank as a Teller/Banker and at Graphic Design Inc., as a Customer Service/Accounts Payable-Receivable Clerk. Tamara and her fiance reside in Farmington with their 6 children and their St. Bernard, Matileta.
Dawn Garms joined the team at Merchants Bank in Onalaska as a Mortgage Loan Officer. Dawn previously worked at Altra Federal Credit Union as a Mortgage Loan Officer. Dawn grew up in Cedar Falls, IA and attended the University of Northern Iowa where she received her Finance/Real Estate degree. She enjoys hiking the bluffs, kayaking through rivers and all of the great things that the La Crosse area has to offer. She also loves to travel and cook. Loans are subject to credit approval.
Libbie Longfield is a full-time Teller in the Winona Lakeside facility. Libbie graduated from WSU with a major in Marketing and minors in Business Administration and Communication Studies. Libbie previously worked at Menards as an Assistant Cabinets and Appliance Manager. Libbie and her husband have a three-month-old daughter.
Cindy Luedke joined Merchants Bank, Apple Valley team as a Mortgage Lender. Cindy previously worked at 1st Trust Mortgage as a Mortgage Sales Professional. Cindy has been in the mortgage industry for 28 years. Cindy and her husband have been married for 28 years and enjoy fishing and spending time on Big Sandy Lake in McGregor, MN. Loans are subject to credit approval.
Shelly Reining joined the staff at Merchants Bank in Onalaska as a Mortgage Loan Coordinator. Shelly previously worked at Home Federal in Rochester as a Mortgage Loan Officer. Shelly and her husband have been married for eight years and have three children. They enjoy anything outside, watching and playing baseball and football, camping and fishing. In her spare time she loves to read and go for walks. Loans are subject to credit approval.
Tara Selig joined the Merchants Bank team and will work in Rosemount as a part-time Teller. Tara will be a senior at Rosemount High School and previously worked at The Commons on Marice as a Waitress. Tara enjoys hanging out with family and friends, and traveling.
Chris Thrune is a part-time Teller in the Winona Drive-up facility. Chris is a sophomore at WSU with a major in Accounting. He previously worked at Fastenal and Dick’s Marine.
Michael (Mick) Wald joined the Merchants Bank team in Winona as a part-time Teller. Mick recently graduated from Winona State University with his Bachelor of Science in Sociology with specialization in Criminal Justice (Corrections). He previously worked at Fastenal and currently volunteers with the Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Minnesota. Mick is an avid hunter and fisher. He enjoys being outside and loves hanging out with his close group of friends.
Visit our website at for a complete list of locations and hours.

Planting Seeds; Growing Business

Ryan BruceIt was after a storm in the Spring of 2001 that Merchants Bank in Rochester President John Doyle asked his insurance agent for a referral for someone to repair the Green Meadows branch after it had been damaged in a storm.

The insurance agent suggested Bruce Ryan, owner of Ryan Windows & Siding, Inc. By 2003, Ryan was a member of the Winona Board of Directors and then later the Merchants Financial Group, Inc. Board of Directors.

“Bruce has an excellent reputation in the Rochester area,” Doyle said. “We are fortunate to have him as a friend, board member and customer.”

Ryan’s relationship with Merchants grew and soon he started referring Merchants to the people he knew. He understands that referrals can have a great impact, especially when those referrals are low-key.

“Being on the board, I know how good the bank is. How sound and secure it is. I like to spread the word, but I don’t do it in a direct manner,” Ryan said. “If the subject comes up, I’ll share information about the Bank and let them know if they’re interested in other options, that they should consider Merchants. When you do it that way, you get to plant the seed with a lot of people. Sometimes, It takes a while. I planted a seed six or seven years ago that’s just now beginning to grow.”

Ryan is involved in his community. He is the past President of the Ronald McDonald House, where he continues to volunteer. He also volunteers at Gift of Life Transplant House and Hiawatha Homes, which promotes independence and community involvement for those with disabilities. He is also involved in supporting other causes throughout the Rochester area and often sees members of Merchants’ staff at those same events.

“It’s great to be able to talk to others about the quality people who work at the Bank, and then those employees happen to be at the event and you can introduce them,” Ryan said.

Ryan looks at his Board involvement as part of being on a big team that includes staff and other Board members from across all Merchants’ locations. He said he likes to look at Merchants from a customer’s perspective and he’s proud of what he sees.

“I’m very, very happy with the level of service I receive and my experience as a customer,” Ryan said. “I know the people I refer to Merchants will be treated the same way.”

This story is an excerpt from our 2012 Annual Report. Click here to view the full Annual Report.

Take the Vacation You Want

Aruba, Jamaica, Bermuda, Bahamas. Are you having trouble saving money for the trip of your dreams? Merchants Bank Vacation Club can help make that dream a reality.
 Vacation Club Account

Merchants Bank Vacation Club is a savings account that allows you to save money and earn interest at the same time. You set the goal of how much you would like to save for your vacation and automated deposits from your checking, savings or payroll are made to the Vacation Club account August through May. Accrued interest is paid on the Vacation Club balances the first day of June, when the funds are made available. Enjoy 24 hours access to your Vacation Club account with online, mobile and telephone banking.


You don’t just have to use the Vacation Club account to save for a vacation either. Other uses of the account have been for increased child care costs in the summer, or even weddings. Why not take advantage of the great interest rate for other important events in your life?


With Merchants Bank Vacation Club and as little as $25 per month, you can start saving for your dream vacation now, or maybe pay for that dream wedding. Don’t make any more excuses for putting your dreams on hold. With Merchants Bank there’s no easier way to save for vacation fun. Visit our website for additional details.