Larry Accola Appointed President at Merchants Bank in Eau Claire

Merchants Bank Eau Claire

Larry Accola, President of Merchants Bank in Eau Claire

Larry Accola has been appointed President of Merchants Bank in Eau Claire, according to Merchants Financial Group President and Chief Executive Officer Rod Nelson.

“We believe Larry is a great addition to our team in Eau Claire,” Nelson said. “He knows the market and the people of the region and is the perfect choice to help us continue to build our brand in the Chippewa Valley.”

Accola has more than 25 years of experience in the Eau Claire market, including more than 20 years at Royal Credit Union, where he served as the Senior Vice President of Business Loans and Services.

“Merchants Bank has a tremendous reputation as a community banking leader throughout southeastern Minnesota and west-central of Wisconsin. It is a perfect fit for the values and financial needs of the people and businesses in our area,” Accola said. “I look forward to sharing the Merchants’ story.”

Accola has a long history of community involvement, including the Eau Claire Economic Development Corporation, Eau Claire Noon Kiwanis, Eau Claire County Industrial Development Agency, Eau Claire City Revolving Loan Fund, Eau Claire Near Equity Loan Fund, Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce, Chippewa County Economic Development Corporation, Chippewa Falls Chamber of Commerce and the Eau Claire Downtown Business Improvement District.

Rich Raspberry Scones

BlogRecipeEmployeeFav-RaspScones

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup Crisco, butter flavored
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk or half and half
  • Cinnamon and sugar mixture

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Cut in the Crisco with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Gently stir in raspberries, taking care to keep them as whole as possible. Whisk eggs with milk (or half and half). Lightly stir into the flour mixture. Turn dough out onto a floured board, handling as little as possible. Shape the dough into two (6 inch diameter x 3/4 inch thick) rounds. Score each circle into wedges with a sharp knife. Brush with a bit of milk, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Place on greased cookie sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned. Test with toothpick after 15 minutes of baking.

 

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

John Doepke Joins Merchants Bank as Network Infrastructure Administrator

John Doepke

John Doepke, Network Infrastructure Administrator

John Doepke has joined Merchants Bank as a Network Infrastructure Administrator, according to Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer Rodney Nelsestuen.

“We are excited to have someone with John’s skill and experience join our team,” Nelsestuen said. “He will have a great deal of responsibility in maintaining and enhancing our information technology infrastructure.”

Doepke will be responsible for assisting in the management, administration, operation, security and maintenance of Merchants Bank’s internal server-based support systems and services.

“I look forward to the responsibility and the opportunity to serve Merchants Bank’s customers,” Doepke said.

A native of central Wisconsin, Doepke has been in the IT field for 15 years, including the past six years at Winona National Bank, where he served as a Network Manager.

Commercial Lending: It’s about more than easy money

Greg Evans, President/Chief Banking Officer

Greg Evans, President/ Chief Banking Officer

Written by Greg Evans, President and Chief Banking Officer

I was at a community networking event one evening last week that included a group of upper-level College of Business students from Winona State University.

“How hard is it to get a business loan?” they asked.

Great question. One I get all the time.

That depends. How hard is it going to be to pay it back?

Not complex stuff, really, but far from easy in practice.

For entrepreneurs looking to start a new business or experienced business owners looking to finance growth and expansion, there really has never been a better time to borrow money. Interest rates remain at historically-low levels. Most commercial banks have fully recovered from any credit problems lingering from the recent great recession. There is plenty of liquidity in the banking system, and banks are hungry to add good quality loans to the balance sheet.

The fact is that commercial banks are in the business of making loans. The change in the regulatory environment that resulted from the recession has, perhaps, created some additional challenges but by in large solid borrowers will have choices in selecting a lender. The institutions serving the Seven Rivers Region, including Merchants Bank, are predominantly community banks and are eager to provide more loans to drive economic growth in our Main Street communities.

So, with plenty of money supply to meet commercial credit demand, how should a business owner go about choosing the right banking partner?

I would recommend looking for a banker comfortable playing the role of a trusted adviser, willing to take the time to fully understand your business and drill into the question, “How hard is it going to be to pay it back?”

For us at Merchants, commercial banking is a relationship business. When we evaluate a loan request, we are diligent in our underwriting of the transaction itself. But, we are far less interested in the single piece of here-and-now business than we are in developing a complete understanding of the total operation and being able to deliver a full suite of business banking solutions that set up a business owner for long-term success.

When I think about our best business customers, clients that immediately come to mind are those trusted relationships that have been shaped over years, even decades. I would like to think that these valued long-standing relationships are the result of one of our bankers starting with this end in mind way back when.

When a commercial lender meets with a prospective new customer, the most important consideration ought to be, “how are we going to meet this customer’s needs … not only today… but well into the future.” In the same manner, it’s advisable for the business owner to be thinking in terms of finding a partner who can become a trusted advisor for the long haul. That type of relationship isn’t forged overnight, but there are behaviors that should be evident early on to warrant the level of trust that a business owner places in a banker.

Any seasoned banker should articulate that credit underwriting will be governed by the fundamental assessment of the “5 Cs” of credit (character of the borrower, market conditions, collateral pledged as a potential secondary source of repayment, capital generally understood as “skin in the game” and capacity). In banking today, capacity – a company’s ability to absorb and repay debt – should be embraced as most fundamentally important because it reflects significantly on the viability of the business itself. Cash is what repays loans, so cash flow of the business is the best source of repayment. In addition to the fundamentals, any banker should be successful at demonstrating the following to a prospective borrower:

  • Responsiveness – business credit underwriting necessarily requires some time, but find a banker who keeps you well informed throughout the process and is available to you regularly
  • Integrity – having a trusted relationship isn’t optional; the ability to earn a high degree of trust is the price of admission for any banker deserving of the opportunity to become your banking partner
  • Thorough underwriting – scrutiny associated with credit requests should be embraced as part of the process if a banker is truly serving the best interests of the business; fundamental review of financial information, projections, business plans, etc., is necessary for everybody to feel a high degree of confidence that the debt can be serviced
  • Experience and knowledge – business owners should have an expectation that their business banker will bring a value-added component to the relationship; familiarity with specific industries and credit cycles is something you should ask your banker about to be confident about the banker’s ability to meet your needs for the long haul

At Merchants Bank, we strive to deliver on that formula in meeting the needs of our business clients. Our bank locations are small enough where our staff can know the name of each person who walks through our door. At the same time, our strength with $1.5 billion in assets allows us to deliver to the market all of the resources required to meet the financing needs of virtually any business in southeastern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin. It’s a beneficial combination for our business clients.

I know every bank suggests it stands apart because of the personalized service it delivers and the quality of its bankers. Sometimes that’s true, but put your bank and banker to the test. Look closely at the expertise and passion of the employees. Are they responsive? Do they truly understand your business and your needs? Do they know what they are talking about? Do they care? Are they professional? Can they be trusted to say “no” when that answer truly serves your best interest and the interest of your business?

There is a good deal that goes into commercial lending, and this really only touches the surface. For any business owner, having a banker that can meet those standards is probably more important than the pricing, terms and conditions of any loan package. If you’re looking for a successful formula, do your homework and find that kind of banker. Then, build a long-term relationship.

 Loans are subject to credit approval.

Bailey’s Irish Cream

BlogRecipe-BailysIrishCream

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup light cream
  • 14 oz. can Eagle sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 2/3 cup Irish whiskey
  • 1 tsp. instant coffee
  • 2 Tbsp. Hershey’s chocolate syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. almond extract

 

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a blender set on high speed for 30 seconds. Bottle in a tightly sealed container and refrigerate. The liqueur will keep for at least 2 months if kept cool. Be sure to shake well before serving. Makes 4 cups.

 

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

Join Us for These July Events

Merchants Bank, Community Events

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

7/4 Family Fun Fest Parade
12:00 p.m.
In Eitzen, MN
7/4 Cannon Valley Parade
11:30 a.m.
At East Side Park in Cannon Falls, MN
7/8-7/12 Winona County Fair
In St. Charles, MN
Merchants Bank staff will be providing free golf cart rides around the fair grounds.
7/11 Pan-O-Prog Parade
5:30 p.m.
Located on Holyoke Avenue in Lakeville, MN
7/16 Hampton Community Appreciation Picnic
11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Across the Street from Merchants Bank in Hampton, MN
Merchants Bank staff will be serving grilled hot dogs with all the fixings!
7/17 Rosemount Community Appreciation Picnic
11:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
At Merchants Bank in Rosemount, MN
As a part of Rosemount’s Leprechaun Days celebration, the Merchants Bank staff will be grilling hot dogs and serving refreshments in the Bank parking lot.
7/18 Leprechaun Days Parade
11:00 a.m.
Rosemount High School in Rosemount, MN
7/18 Rushford Days Parade
7:00 p.m.
Parade begins on Home Street in Rushford, MN
7/19 Rivertown Days Parade
12:00 p.m.
In Hastings, MN
7/24 Cottage Grove Community Appreciation Picnic
11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
At Merchants Bank in Cottage Grove, MN
Merchants Bank staff will be grilling hot dogs, and serving pulled turkey sandwiches, ice cream treats and refreshments in the Bank parking lot.
7/24 Winona Downtown Drive-Up Community Appreciation Picnic
11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
At Merchants Bank Drive-Up Winona Downtown
Merchants Bank staff will be serving grilled brats and refreshments at our Downtown Winona Drive-Up location.
8/2 Buffalo Bill Days Parade
1:30 p.m.
Located on Parkway Avenue and Beacon Street in Lanesboro, MN

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SBA Loans: Frequently Asked Questions

Merchants Bank Small Business Loans, Commerical Lenders

Are you thinking about starting a small business? Have you heard about the Small Business Administration and the loan programs it offers? You might be wondering if an SBA loan is right for you or simply how SBA loans work. Here are answers to frequently asked questions about SBA loans

1. What is an SBA loan?

While the Small Business administration oversees a number of loan programs, the SBA does not lend money itself. When you apply for an SBA loan, you’ll work with a local bank to receive financing for your project and a portion of the loan is guaranteed by the SBA.

SBA Loan programs include:

  • 7(a) Loan Program – The most common general small business loan offered by the SBA.
  • Microloan Program – Small, short-term small business loans.
  • Real Estate & Equipment Loans or CDC/504 Loan Program – Loans for real estate and equipment.
  • Disaster Loans – Low interest loans to repair or replace items damaged in a disaster.

Learn more about these SBA loan programs and eligibility on the SBA website.

2. Should I apply for an SBA loan or traditional bank loan?

Which loan is right for your business depends on a number of factors. First, you’ll want to know which SBA loan programs you may or may not qualify for. In addition, you’ll want to compare the SBA loan programs versus a traditional commercial loan. While an SBA loan might not be a fit for every business, it may provide certain benefits over traditional loans, in certain situations, including:

  • Longer terms
  • Lower down payments
  • Increased cash flow
  • Flexible repayment options

As an SBA Preferred Lender, Merchants Bank has experience helping businesses choose between SBA and traditional commercial loans. Your local Merchants Bank Commercial Banker can guide you through our options to find the right loan program for you.

Use SBA’s Online Loans and Grants Search Tool to begin research which government financial programs may help your business.

3. What information do I need to complete my loan application?

Educating yourself on the SBA loan processing and knowing what information you need for the application can save you a lot of time. Use these resources to prepare yourself when applying for an SBA loan:

For more information on SBA loans, talk to a Commercial Banker at your local Merchants Bank. We’re proud to be an SBA Preferred Lender.

Subject to credit approval. Equal Housing Lender.

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