Connie Fort Promoted to Vice President of Consumer Loans at Merchants Bank

personal loans

Connie Fort, Vice President of Consumer Loans

Connie Fort has been promoted to Vice President of Consumer Loans at Merchants Bank, according to Andrea Lisowski, Vice President and Manager of the Consumer Loan department.

“Connie has consistently been the top producer in Consumer Loans and does an exceptional job sharing other bank products with her customers, making sure all of their banking needs are met.” Lisowski said, noting that Fort continues in her role as the Assistant Manager of the Consumer Loan department.

Fort has been with the Merchants organization since 1989 and has worked in the Consumer Loan department since 2003. She has been Assistant Manager of the department since 2010.

“It’s a privilege to help our customers with their loan needs,” Fort said. “I am lucky to have people come back to me when they have a new need, and I am thankful they feel satisfied with the service I’ve provided so they then recommend me to their friends and family.”

In addition to being active in the community, Fort also presents information to students at Winona State University and high schools throughout the area, educating those students about credit, the importance of good credit and how to build credit.

“Connie’s dedication and passion to be extraordinary are very visible to her co-workers and her customers,” Lisowski said.

Loans are subject to credit approval.

Congratulate New and Promoted Staff

At Merchants Bank, we are happy to welcome new employees and celebrate new positions filled by current staff. These frontline employees are all looking forward to serving you. Take a moment to congratulate them.

AhlmanJoe Joe Ahlman has joined Merchants Bank as a Teller in Winona. Joe is currently enrolled at Winona State University majoring in Finance. He enjoys being active playing any kind of sport. His favorite season is winter and he is a Pittsburg Steelers fan. Joe previously worked at In*Tech and Cabela’s.
 DanielsonSarah Sarah Danielson has joined Merchants Bank as a Commercial Banker/VP in La Crescent. Sarah has 21 years of banking experience in her previous role as AVP/Business Banker at Coulee Bank. She also previously worked at Premier Business Services and Associated Bank. Sarah and her husband, Paul are life-long residents of La Crescent and she is looking forward to serving her hometown. In addition to banking, Sarah and her husband own Golf Headquarters in Onalaska, WI. They have four children; 12 year old triplets and a 6 year old.
Dana Dobrunz has been promoted to Personal Banker at Merchants Bank in La Crescent. She will be responsible for serving customers’ personal loan and deposit needs. Dana has been with Merchants Bank in La Crescent since 1993, where she has been a long-time Customer Service Representative.
 HahnCarla Carla Hahn has joined Merchants Bank as a Teller in Caledonia. Carla previously worked as a Pharmacy Technician at Degen Berglund Pharmacy and as an Office Manager at General Lea Manor. Carla and her husband, Charles have been married for 25 years and have four daughters and two grandchildren. She enjoys cooking, reading, and walking.
 LeahlyTeressa Teressa Leahy has joined Merchants Bank as a Teller in Caledonia. Teressa previously was a Teller at Merchants for four years and also previously worked at Fastenal in Accounts Receivable. Teressa is in school pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Business.
 RandallBecky Becky Randall has joined Merchants Bank as a Teller in Caledonia. She previously worked at Festival Foods as a Cashier. Becky, her husband, Dusty and their two children moved to Caledonia in 2013. Becky went to school and graduated with a Veterinary Technology degree. She worked in jewelry sales and management and then traded in her career for motherhood. In her free time she enjoys hiking, fishing, biking and volunteering at family movie night and the library.
 SillKim Kim Sill has joined Merchants Bank as a Teller in Hastings. Kim also is currently working at St. Philip’s Early Learning Center as a Director and previously worked for Vermillion Bank as a Teller/Night Operator. Kim is a “soccer” mom. Her son, Holden loves the sport and is a senior at Hastings High School. Kim’s husband, James, is a teacher. Kim enjoys scrap booking, reading mystery books and playing tennis.
 ZehrLori Lori Zehr has joined Merchants Bank as a Teller in Winona. Lori recently returned from China after living there for four years. She is married and has two teenagers and her family is now resettling in Winona. In her free time Lori likes to read, go for walks, and visit with friends from China (through We-Chat). She is very happy to be back at Merchants where she worked as a Teller more than 15 years ago!



Join Us for These September Events

Merchants Bank, Community Events

Be sure to follow us on our Facebook page for information on these events or pictures from other events you may have missed.

9/11 Caledonia and Spring Grove Windshield Washing Fundraiser
2:00-5:00 p.m.
At Merchants Bank locations in Caledonia and Spring Grove
Join Merchants Bank for a Window Washing Fundraiser to support the Caledonia and Spring Grove Fire Departments! Merchants will donate $5 for every car window washed from 2-5 p.m. Visit the Merchants drive-thru in Caledonia and Spring Grove for your FREE window washing and help support a great cause!
9/17-9/18 Applefest Open House
During regular business hours
At Merchants Bank in La Crescent
Merchants Bank staff will be serving locally-grown apples and apple cider in the bank lobby during regular lobby hours. Stop by and say “hi!”
9/18 Lakeville North vs. South Football Game
7:00 p.m.
At Lakeville North High School
Join our staff for the city’s high school rivalry football game. Stop by our tailgate party where we’ll be serving food with all the proceeds going to local high school athletics.
9/18 Battle for the Apple Football Game
7:00 p.m.
At Eastview High School
9/20 Triquest
7:00 a.m.
In Holmen, WI
9/20 Applefest Parade
1:00 p.m.
At Elm & Main Streets in La Crescent, MN
Merchant Bank staff will be collecting food and cash donations during the parade. Please consider supporting the La Crescent Food Share Program with a donation.
9/26 New Leash on Life 5K Dog Run/3K fun Walk
8:30 a.m.
Silver Lake Pool in Rochester, MN
9/29 Rochester Southeast Minnesota Economic Forum
8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
At the Rochester International Event Center
As a banking leader in the region, we are proud to partner with the Chamber as the pinnacle sponsor of this event. You’re invited to join us as regional leaders examine SE Minnesota expectations for 2016. This event will feature two keynote speakers, in addition to two panels of economic experts and industry executives who will weigh in from their unique economic perspectives. More information can be found on the Rochester Chamber of Commerce website.


One Time Security Code and Trusteer Rapport, Extra Layers of Security for Your Business


The security of your online business transactions is vitally important to us, and we’re always researching ways to provide extra security for your business transactions. With that in mind, we are excited to offer our business customers One Time Security Code and Trusteer Rapport, two free services designed to increase your transaction security.

One Time Security Code

One Time Security Code is a required extra level of security for high-risk transactions, such as the submission of ACH files, while using Merchants Business Online Banking. One Time Security Code does not replace any current security programs offered through Merchants, but is an additional service.

How does One Time Security Code work? If a business is performing ACH transactions online, One Time Security Code sends a code via email, phone call or text message that the business customer enters into the appropriate area in Merchants Online Banking for further verification. Once the code is entered, the transaction can be completed.

“One Time Security Code is a great tool to protect your business and is likely familiar to you through your past online experiences,” said Kerri Bronk, Merchants Bank’s Senior Operations/E-Channel Officer. “It is similar to what other websites use when you forget your password and need to verify your identity using a PIN or code sent to your email or phone.”

Who Should Use One Time Security Code? All Merchants Bank business customers who conduct ACH transactions through our Online Banking must use One Time Security Code. If you haven’t yet been contacted by the Merchants Bank Electronic Banking department (866-496-0522) or Cash Management Officers Tammy Johnson (507-457-1190) or Machelle Anderson (507-263-7572), they will be in contact in the near future, or you can feel free to contact them.

Trusteer Rapport

Trusteer Rapport better controls and reduces risk when using a computer for business by providing extra security for financial malware beyond malware identification and protection that a business should already be using. Trusteer Rapport does not replace normal computer security. While it is not required of Merchants Bank business customers, it is highly recommended. It takes just a few minutes to download.

Trusteer Rapport has multiple tools to:

  • Flag and notify customers of potential security risks. For example, if the same password is being used for multiple sites.
  • Flag or automatically clean malware off of a computer system.
  • Choose which sites are protected with Trusteer Rapport during financial transactions. If a site is protected, Trusteer Rapport will lock down the computer and not allow other programs or functions to happen until the transaction you are performing is complete. This protects the computer/customer from potential hackers searching for financial information, like what can happen in online shopping.
  • View statistics on online behavior and malware detection.

Who should use Trusteer Rapport? “Even if you can’t see someone committing a crime, it doesn’t mean they aren’t in the background online trying to figure out your online patterns and information,” Bronk said. “We encourage all businesses, especially those using Online Banking, to take advantage of the additional level of protection provided by TrusteerRapport.”

How Do I Start?

If you’d like to learn more about Trusteer Rapport, or have other questions about One Time Security Code, the best place to start is Merchants Bank’s Electronic Banking department at 866-496-0522, or by visiting our the Online Banking/ATMs area on our website.


You’re Invited – Southeast Minnesota Economic Forum


Are you interested in learning more about the economic development initiatives in Southeast Minnesota and the potential impact of these projects? Merchants Bank invites you to the Southeast Minnesota Economic Forum on Tuesday, September 29 as economic experts and industry executives share their economic expectations for 2016.

Featured keynote speakers for this event include:

  • Tim Penny, a former U.S Representative and now President and CEO of the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation
  • Steve Loehr, Vice President of Operations for Kwik Trip

In addition to the two keynotes, the Forum will host two panels to provide economic perspectives from industry experts.

“With the economic initiatives taking place in Rochester, the growth opportunities for our region are exciting and Merchants looks forward to being a part of it,” said John Doyle, President for Merchants Bank in Rochester. “Bringing area business leaders together for an event like this is something to take advantage of.”

As a banking leader in the region, Merchants is proud to partner with the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce as the pinnacle sponsor of the Southeast Minnesota Economic Forum. “Merchants is excited to continue to help businesses grow and thrive as a result of future economic developments,” said Dan Massett, Central Region President for Merchants Bank.

Reserve your spot at the forum by calling the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce at (507) 288-1122 or visiting their website.

Date/Time: Tuesday, September 29 from 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Location: Rochester International Event Center, 7333 Airport View Dr. SW
Price: $30 for Chamber members, $40 for Non-members, $270 for a table of six


Apple Snacks and Crafts


In many regions across the country, September marks the start of apple season. From Granny Smith to Red Delicious, there’s usually a wide variety of apples to be found at your local farm or grocery store. Celebrate autumn by enjoying this fruit with the entire family – whether you’re looking for a snack or some fall-themed arts and crafts, apples come in handy.

Thanks to new twists on classic recipes, caramel apples are a favorite seasonal treat that never gets old. For kids, making them is half the fun. The U.S. Apple Association provides a recipe that will please everyone’s taste buds: Instead of popsicle sticks, use licorice or cinnamon sticks, and top the caramel layer off with granola. Not only do these caramel apples taste wonderful, but they make one-of-a-kind rustic centerpieces as well. Find the complete recipe and other delicious apple ideas at

Both young children and teens will love painting with apples. All you need are some apples, acrylic paint, popsicle sticks and paper. Slice an apple so that the inside surface is flat and even. Push a popsicle stick into the outside layer of the fruit for leverage, dip the flat side of the slice into your paint then go ahead and make a masterpiece. You can even experiment by cutting out shapes like stars, on the inside part of the fruit to make cool patterns and stamps. Adults will have to do all the cutting for younger kids, although you can use plastic knives for shape cutting. Check out websites like Make and Takes for more crafty food projects.

With help from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the New Jersey Team Nutrition Project offers some great recipes for apple lovers. If you enjoy entertaining or need to bring hors d’oeuvres to a dinner party, try getting creative with dips. Coat your apple wedges with strawberry cream cheese dip or blended peanut butter and orange juice. Check out other state resources, including more dip recipes from the New Jersey Team Nutrition Project, through the USDA at and

Packed with nutrients and flavor, apples are a healthy choice, whether enjoyed on their own or as an entrée ingredient. Have fun experimenting with new recipes and crafts all year long, or get into the autumn spirit with a whole month of apple-related projects. Learn more about this tasty fruit at




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Meet Dave Engstler, Consumer Banker at Merchants Bank

Dave Engstler

Dave Engstler, Consumer Banker

How long have you been with Merchants?
Dave: 13 plus years. In that time, I’ve always been a Lender with Merchants and always in our Rochester Green Meadows office.

What is your top banking tip?
Dave: Live within your means.

What’s one thing your mom or dad taught you about money?
Dave: Basically, save first.

If you won the Powerball (currently estimated at $194 million) what’s the first thing you would do?
Dave: I would make sure my ten year old son had enough money for college.

Besides money, what’s your favorite green thing?
Dave: I really like pine trees. In Northern Minnesota, it’s pine trees and water. I love that part of the state…just smell and the fresh air.