Matthew Schuldt Named President at Merchants Bank in Caledonia and Spring Grove

SchuldtMatt

Matt Schuldt

CALEDONIA/SPRING GROVE, Minn. – Caledonia native Matthew Schuldt has been appointed Market President for Merchants Bank in Caledonia and Spring Grove, according to Merchants Bank’s Southern Region President Jay Friedl.

Schuldt served as Interim President of First Community Bank in Lester Prairie, Minn., and also worked in other roles at the bank, including Vice President of Lending, working with consumer, agriculture and commercial lending customers.

“Matt’s experience will serve our Caledonia and Spring Grove customers very well as he helps them find the solution that is best for their individual needs,” Friedl said.

In addition to his experience at First Community Bank, Schuldt also spent eight years working with Eide Bailly, a public accounting and business advisory firm. He also volunteers as a youth wrestling coach.

“I’m excited to be a part of an organization so well thought of by community bankers throughout the state. Certainly, Merchants has the resources that make it possible to finance almost any sort of loan, but the strength of the organization is how it treats each customer like that person is the Bank’s only customer,” Schuldt said.

Schuldt started his new position in Caledonia and Spring Grove on February 24.

Merchants Bank Receives Partnership Award from Mortgage Insurer MGIC

Left to right: Cheryl Webb, Senior Vice President of Field Operations for MGIC, Bob Dougherty of Merchants Bank, and Elyse Mitchell, Lead Account Manager for MGIC.

Left to right: Cheryl Webb, Senior Vice President of Field Operations for MGIC, Bob Dougherty of Merchants Bank, and Elyse Mitchell, Lead Account Manager for MGIC.

Mortgage insurance leader MGIC recently presented Merchants Bank with its Partnership Award, which recognizes a business partner for loyalty, superior business quality and leadership in the mortgage industry.

Merchants Bank’s Vice President of Mortgage Operations Robert Dougherty accepted the award from MGIC’s Senior Vice President of Field Operations Cheryl Webb and Lead Account Manager Elyse Mitchell. MGIC is based in Milwaukee and provides mortgage insurance for about 1 million homes.

“It means a lot to our organization that we rose to the top of what MGIC was looking for in a partner. The award really celebrates the work of our entire company, including our exceptional sales force, as well as the operations area,” Dougherty said. “It’s been a great partnership for both of us. We really appreciate their continued work in educating our operations and sales teams.”

Merchants Bank’s Mortgage Operations area provides service and support for the mortgages written by Merchants Bank employees at the Bank’s 21 locations, as well correspondent mortgage services for about 210 community banks across Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and North and South Dakota. More than 45 Merchants Bank employees support the Mortgage Operations area.

Jeff Zwiefelhofer Joins Merchants Bank as a Business Lender

ZwiefelhoferJeff

Jeff Zwiefelhofer

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. –Jeff Zwiefelhofer has joined Merchants Bank as an Assistant Vice President and Commercial Banker, according to Merchants Bank’s Eau Claire Market President Mark Willer.

Zwiefelhofer has been a business lender at Alliance Bank since 2009. He has worked as a community banker since 1983. Most of that time has been spent in the Chippewa Valley. Merchants Bank acquired Alliance Bank’s Mall Drive location February 14.

“Jeff is very well known in this area. That will be a benefit for Merchants as we build our brand in the Chippewa Valley. More so, it will be a benefit for Jeff’s customers as they build a relationship with a bank that has the resources to be a strong financial partner.” Willer said.

Zwiefelhofer has been an active community member. He is currently Treasurer of the Hastings Way Business Association, and a former Board Member of the St. Croix Economic Development Corporation and Chippewa County American Red Cross. He’s also a former Treasurer of the Chippewa Falls Jaycees, and a former member of the Chippewa Falls Main Street Marketing Committee, and the Woodville Lion’s Club.

“I look forward to sharing all that Merchants Bank has to offer. The people I know will be impressed by Merchants’ commitment to community banking and the resources that I will have available to me,” Zwiefelhofer said.

Rick Roesch Joins Merchants Bank as a Mortgage Lender

Veteran Mortgage Lender Rick Roesch has joined Merchants Bank, according to Merchants Bank’s Eau Claire Market President Mark Willer.

Rick Roesch

Rick Roesch

Roesch had most recently been a mortgage lender at Alliance Bank, which was acquired by Merchants Bank February 14.

“We are extremely pleased that Rick will continue providing home loan solutions to Chippewa Valley mortgage customers. We know that he brings a thorough understanding of the mortgage industry to Merchants,” Willer said.

In addition to his seven years as a mortgage lender at Alliance, Roesch has been active in the Chippewa Valley real estate industry since 1978. He has worked as a real estate agent, assessor and appraiser, in addition to his work as a mortgage lender.

“Merchants is appealing to me and should be appealing to customers because it offers a full range of mortgage options. That means that customers can be fitted to the type of loan that is best for them,” Roesch said. “Perhaps most appealing, given my experience in the industry, is the fact that Merchants Bank services its own loans. That makes all the difference in the world when you need someone to talk to.”

Roesch has remained active in the community. He currently serves as an Elder in his church. Most recently he served on the Board of Directors for the Foundation Board of the Realtor Association of Northwest Wisconsin.

Project FINE Recognizes 2013 “Partner of the Year”

As seen in the Winona Post

On February 11, the Project FINE Board of Directors hosted its “Annual Report to the Community” at the Saint Mary’s University Toner Center. This event is a celebration of the organization’s activities and accomplishments during the previous year and a time to thank the many partners, stakeholders, staff and volunteers who help Project FINE make a positive impact in our community.

Each year, Project FINE recognizes an exceptional partner with the Partners Award.  For 2013, we are pleased to honor Merchants Bank with this award.

Pictured are Fatima Said, Project FINE Executive Director; Rod Nelson, Merchants Bank President and CEO; and Dr. Connie J. Gores, Project FINE 2013 Board President.

Pictured are Fatima Said, Project FINE Executive Director; Rod Nelson, Merchants Bank President and CEO; and Dr. Connie J. Gores, Project FINE 2013 Board President.

Merchants Bank
Merchants Bank has been an exceptional partner to Project FINE for many years.  In 2013, they completed an organizational diversity assessment and collaborated with Project FINE to provide diversity training for bank staff.  Merchants Bank also offered a series of banking education sessions for refugees and immigrants on home ownership and refinancing and they continue their commitment to serving diverse populations by providing interpreters for their non-English speaking bank clients.  As a result of this education and outreach, four newcomer families purchased a home through Merchants Bank in 2013 and countless others opened accounts.

Project FINE would like to thank the leadership and staff at Merchants Bank for their commitment to creating an inclusive environment and meeting the banking needs of newcomers in our community.  We are proud to partner with Merchants Bank and over 60 other community businesses, organizations and service providers to build a respectful and sensitive community.

Buying a Used Car from a Private Seller

If you’ve decided that it’s time to buy a new car – whether you have a new driver in the family or you’re just ready for a change and perhaps an upgrade, there are plenty of private sellers that have used vehicles for sale. However, knowing what to look for as you shop and knowing the signs of a less than trustworthy seller could make the difference between enjoying a new used car or getting stuck with a money pit. Here are some tips to help.

UsedCar“Buying a used car from a private party can score you a deal – often discounts of 15-20 percent when buying from a private seller over a dealership,” states Angie Fisher of AutoWeek.com. To avoid signing on a deal that could turn out to be too good to be true, Fisher goes on to offer some things to consider as you search.

Ask the right questions. Regardless of the car’s mileage – low or high – it’s important to ask if it has been in any accidents and how severe. Ask for maintenance receipts to show if the car has been well cared for. Ask if the seller is the original owner and if not, how much they know about who they purchased the vehicle from. Finally, always ask why they are selling; if they can’t seem to give you a straight answer, be careful about moving forward.

Know what to look for when inspecting the car. As you look over the prospective vehicle, keep an eye out for evidence of repairs, maintenance or required repairs. Some things to look for include worn tires, bent wheels, oil leaks, missing body fascia, dull paint, etc. All of these could be signs for maintenance. If you spot any of these, ask the seller about the history and gauge their reaction.

Request specific documentation. Ask for a bill of sale that includes the vehicle identification number (VIN number), make, model, selling price, mileage and any agreements that you and the seller have discussed.

Research the vehicle’s value. While Kelley Blue Book can be a helpful tool, there are other ways to determine a fair buying price for the vehicle. Look on local websites and in the local paper and see what vehicles of the make and model are selling for. You can also try calling a local auto dealer and give them your prospective vehicle’s description; ask them what the trade-in value would be. Use this information to calculate where you think your first bid should be.

When it comes to purchasing a new used vehicle, there are pros and cons to buying from either a dealership or a private seller. Whereas a dealership will have their own policies and hoops to jump through, “a private party seller is an individual just like you,” states an article from JDPower.com. “…someone who owns a vehicle that they need to sell, and who is likely selling the vehicle themselves in order to extract maximum value for it.” Some of the benefits of buying from a private seller include:

  • Lower costs. There are four values for a used vehicle: retail, private party, trade-in and certified pre-owned. The private party value typically tends to remain on the lower end of the scale when it comes to vehicle costs since the seller isn’t concerned about overhead; they are also typically more flexible on the price as they’re eager to sell their vehicle.
  • No games. Private party sellers are generally in more of a rush to sell their old vehicles. If they see that you’re a serious buyer, they may be more likely to want to complete the transaction with you as quickly as possible.

If you have questions about purchasing a pre-owned vehicle, or other financial questions, stop by your local Merchants Bank branch, where a our financial professionals are ready to help.

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Merchants Bank Completes Acquisition of Eau Claire Location from Alliance Bank

Mark Willer

Mark Willer

Merchants Bank has taken ownership of the deposit accounts, loans and the physical location of the Alliance Bank office at 2728 Mall Drive in Eau Claire, as well as the loans and deposits of Alliance Bank’s Pinnacle Way location, according to Merchants Financial Group, Inc., President & CEO Rodney R. Nelson

“We look forward to exceeding the expectations of our new customers, and we look forward to showing the Chippewa Valley our commitment to the communities we serve,” Nelson said. “We are excited to be a part of this vibrant area.”

The sale was completed earlier today, and Merchants Bank will be ready to open its doors at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Mall Drive location. Long-time financial services leader Mark Willer has been named Market President and many of the Alliance staff have been retained.

“We recognize that Merchants Bank is new to the area, but we aren’t new to banking. Our philosophy is to be customer-centric, and we believe the best employees to serve the needs of our customers are people that they know,” Nelson said.

Merchants Bank acquired approximately $48 million in deposits and $17 million in loans from Alliance. Terms of the sale have not been disclosed.

Don’t Let Cabin Fever Get To You

We think February is a great time to get out and plan for the coming year. That’s why we’re going to be at a number of shows in February. We invite you to join us and tap into our knowledge as you prepare for 2014. Whether it’s a remodeling project or a new home, Merchants Bank team members will be on hand with answers for you.

Follow on our Facebook page for information on what is to come, or to recap recent events.

Feb 6: Winona Bloodmobile,  9 a.m.-2:45 p.m., Merchants Bank, downtown Winona. If you’d like to donate, please call (507) 452-4258.

Feb 7-9: Rochester Area Builders Home Show , 2/7: 3-8 p.m., 2/8: 9 a.m.-6 p.m., 2/9: 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Mayo Civic Center, Rochester.

Feb 15-16: St. Charles Community Showcase, 2/15: 10 a.m.-5 p.m., 2/16: 10 a.m.-2 p.m., St. Charles Elementary School.

Feb 21-23: Chippewa Valley Home Builders Association Home & Garden Show, 2/21: 1-8 p.m., 2/22: 9 a.m.-5 p.m., 2/23: 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Eau Claire Indoor Sports Center.

Feb 22-23: Winona Better Living Show, 2/22: 10 a.m.-5 p.m., 2/23: 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Winona Senior High School.

Feb 26-March 2: Minneapolis Home and Garden Show, 2/26: noon-9 p.m., 2/27: 10 a.m.-9 p.m., 2/28: 10 a.m.-10 p.m., 3/1: 9 a.m.-9 p.m., 3/2: 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Minneapolis Convention Center.

Feb 27: Your Keys to Home Ownership home buyer and builder seminar,  5:45-7 p.m., Merchants Bank, downtown Winona.