When Merchants Bank acquired the former Alliance Bank location in Eau Claire on February 14, it meant a new phone system for the bank that matched what Merchants had in place at all of its locations. That was good fortune for Beacon House, part of the Eau Claire Interfaith Hospitality Network. Merchants Bank – Eau Claire President Mark Willer worked with Kelly Christianson, Executive Director of Eau Claire Interfaith Hospitality Network, and Pam Kozuch, owner of Telephone Systems Incorporated (TSI), to make sure the phones and components were installed at Beacon House. Merchants supplied the previously used components and TSI provided the installation. Beacon House serves families and pregnant women who are temporarily homeless or at risk of homelessness.
Deb Kemp has been promoted to Assistant Vice President/Credit Card Manager at Merchants Bank, according to Sue Hovell, Senior Vice President/ Director of Sales and Marketing.
Kemp oversees Merchants Bank’s successful credit card and merchant processing area, which has grown substantially under her leadership, including about 10 percent per year over the past four years. Most recently, Kemp’s area doubled the amount of balance transfers acquired during its most recent balance transfer campaign. Additionally, the merchant processing part of her department, which helps businesses process credit card transactions, has grown significantly.
“The work Deb and her department have accomplished over the past few years has been significant in helping Merchants grow across all of our locations,” Hovell said. “She works with many employees across our organization, and I join them in congratulating her.”
Kemp has been with Merchants since 1992 and has been a part of the credit card department since 2001.
Merchants Financial Group, Inc., reported income of $2,797,997, more than $300,000 ahead of plan, for the first quarter of 2014, according to MFGI President & CEO Rod Nelson.
As a result of the positive performance, the MFGI Board of Directors approved a semiannual dividend of 45 cents per share to be paid to shareholders. The dividend is the same as the amount paid in December of last year.
“We continue to see excellent work across our locations by our business bankers as they increase our loan portfolio. Our staff continues to work smarter. We are looking closely at ways to maintain our margins, and we are diligent about keeping our expenses in check,” Nelson said. “With increased regulation, 2014 is a year that will be full of change for the banking industry. We are more than up to that challenge, and I do anticipate another strong year.”
Merchants’ numbers were behind last year’s first quarter numbers of $3,209,760 because of decreased mortgage income. Nelson said the decrease in mortgage activity is something that is consistent throughout the banking industry and was anticipated by Merchants when putting together its plan for 2014. Total income for 2013 was $11,612,049.
Merchants Bank will join the Great River Shakespeare Festival (GRSF) in celebrating Shakespeare’s 450th birthday by offering birthday cake at Merchants’ downtown Winona location from noon to 2:00 p.m., Wednesday, April 23. The public is invited.
“We are excited to commemorate William Shakespeare’s 450th birthday and kick-off our ‘450 Celebrate the 450th’ campaign,” said Emily Kurash, GRSF Director of Marketing and Sales. “There will be many wonderful ways for supporters and fans of GRSF to mark this milestone during the 2014 season, and we’re grateful for the opportunity to start the celebration with Merchants Bank and the entire community.”
GRSF members will be on hand to serve the cake and talk about the upcoming season. Merchants, celebrating its 139th year, has been a significant supporter of GRSF since its inception. This is GRSF’s
11th season, which will run June 26 – August 3 and will feature “Hamlet,” “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” and “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.” Other events include free weekend concerts and educational events for all ages throughout the season.
“We value the cultural and economic contributions GRSF makes to improve the quality of life all of us enjoy across this region,” said Merchants Bank President & Chief Banking Officer Greg Evans. “We invite our neighbors in to show their support for GRSF by having a piece of cake and learning more about the coming season.”
Red Wing financial leader Dan Massett has been named the new Regional President for Merchants Bank in Cannon Falls, Red Wing and Hampton, according to Merchants Bank President and Chief Banking Officer Greg Evans. Massett started his new position April 2.
“We’re excited to expand the depth of our leadership team with somebody who has significant familiarity with the markets of this important region and strong leadership experience,” Evans said.
Massett comes to Merchants Bank from Associated Bank in Red Wing, where he has been Community Bank President and had Regional Team Leadership responsibility for Business Banking with Associated, including oversight of markets in western Wisconsin, part of the Twin Cities metropolitan area and Rochester.
“Working with the leadership group, they gave me the feeling that Merchants is a strong community bank, and that’s where I feel I belong,” Massett said. “With nearly 25 years in banking, I bring a variety of banking experience to the table. My goal is to add value to every experience I have with customers.”
Massett grew up in Red Wing, graduating from Red Wing High School in 1987. He earned a degree in Organizational Management from Gustavus Adolphus College and began his banking career as a Business Banker with Norwest Bank in 1991, working with the organization as it transitioned to Wells Fargo. In 1998 he moved back to Red Wing to work for the Jones family at Goodhue County National Bank, which became Signal Bank. He has been with that Bank in Red Wing through the transition to Associated and until now.
Massett is committed to community banking and providing community leadership. Dan currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Jones Family Foundation, the Red Wing YMCA (Treasurer) and the Every Hand Joined Partner Table, a collective impact/community-wide initiative to enhance educational outcomes in Red Wing. He is a past Board member for the Red Wing Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Panel for Economic Development, the Red Wing Chamber of Commerce, and the Red Wing Port Authority. He has been active in the Red Wing Athletic Association and the United Way for Goodhue/Wabasha/Pierce Counties.
Massett will have offices in both Cannon Falls and Red Wing. Evans has been Merchants Bank’s President and Chief Banking Officer for all 21 locations since January 1. He had also continued his role as Regional President for Cannon Falls, Red Wing and Hampton until Massett’s hiring.
Terry Hawkings is looking out for Winona.
A Winona resident for nearly 20 years, Hawkings, 52, has spent the better part of her time volunteering for Winona events, including the Great River Shakespeare Festival and Merchants Bank’s annual 10 Days of Giving food drive during the holiday season.
The Merchants employee volunteers in the community because she wants to help make Winona an appealing travel destination, she said. Like her fellow Volunteer of the Month nominees, she simply found things in the community she was passionate about and stepped up to donate her time.
“If it’s good for Winona, then it’s good for my employer and it’s good for me,” Hawkings said.
Hawkings, who journeyed to Winona from California 20 years ago, calls Merchants her catalyst to volunteerism. It’s the bank’s core values that prompted Hawkings to get involved in the community ever since she got here, she said.
Hawkings generally lends her time as a coordinator or board member, but also looks for ways to step into one-time events and help with whatever’s needed, like at Trinona or Live at the Levee. It doesn’t matter where in an organization you serve, she said — only that you do.
“You don’t have to take on a leadership role to be useful,” Hawkings said. “Just participate.”
For Shakespeare, Hawkings works as a volunteer coordinator. She also served as the co-chair for the 10 Days of Giving event last year when it celebrated its 25th anniversary. She’s the president-elect of Winona’s Exchange Club and is the treasurer of the Live at the Levee committee — among other initiatives.
So, why does she take on all the extra commitments?
“Just to feel like I belong,” Hawkings said. “Walking down the street and knowing people. But I’m passionate about the economic value, specifically for GRSF.”
Hawkings believes Winona can be a template for a small-town tourist destination, and is headed in the right direction. Her focus now is helping to revitalize downtown.
“If we can improve our downtown, we can improve as a destination,” Hawkings said.
She wants to help groom the area to be the hub for the art enthusiast, the outdoorsy-type and those just passing through. Hawkings isn’t the first one to notice Winona’s need for changes downtown. With programs such as the Winona Main Street Program, the community is taking steps to revitalize the area.
That, and Live at the Levee, which has held multiple community music and arts events downtown over the last year.
“I meet so many different people,” Hawkings said. “We reach a different population of people in Winona.”
Even with a bustling schedule, Hawkings doesn’t plan to slow down. She’ll often work with her husband, but she admitted he’s one of the doers while she’s a planner.
“We have this little joke that I’m the volunteer and he’s the volun-told,” Hawkings said with a laugh.
Story by Andrew Sroka. Reprinted with permission from Winona Daily News.
WINONA, Minn. – Merchants Financial Group, Inc. (MFGI) held its annual meeting Thursday, April 3, formally reporting 2013 income to shareholders and re-electing five members to the MFGI Board of Directors.
MFGI President & CEO Rodney R. Nelson reported that the organization is sound and continues to grow, recording $11,612,049 in net income in 2013. It was MFGI’s second best year in terms of income, following net income of $12,439,492 in 2012.
“It is good to share the good news with our shareholders,” Nelson said. “We look forward to continued success in 2014.”
Re-elected to three-year terms as Directors were David H. Keller, retired President Lucas Body Systems, NA, Richard T. Lommen, Jr., Owner/Operator, Courtesy Corporation, McDonald’s, Kenneth J. Mogren, retired President, Winona Agency, Inc., Bruce E. Ryan, Owner, Ryan Windows & Siding, Inc., and Peter W. Woodworth, Chairman, WKM Properties.
Nelson, Chief Financial Officer Sue Savat and Merchants Bank President and Chief Banking Officer Greg Evans were featured speakers.