Nate Birkholz Will Lead the Merchants Bank Trust Department

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Nate Birkholz has joined Merchants Bank as Trust Department Manager/SVP.

Nate Birkholz has joined Merchants Bank as Senior Vice President and Trust Department Manager, according to Greg Evans, President and Chief Banking Officer.

“Nate is a valuable addition to our current team of Trust experts. He is an attorney with nine years of estate planning, tax and business experience. He brings significant knowledge of wealth management to this role, as well as a passion for building relationships,” said Evans.

Birkholz was the Trust Department Manager at Eastwood Bank in Rochester for the past two years and was also previously a Trust Officer for Wells Fargo. Before his time with Wells Fargo, Birkholz practiced law for seven years for two firms, including Wendland Utz of Rochester. He spent much of his childhood growing up in Winona and is looking forward to relocating to the area with his wife, son and daughter.

“I have fond memories of Winona and am excited to build relationships with community members and businesses in all the markets Merchants services,” Birkholz said. “I look forward to sharing the Merchants Bank story and the services the Trust Department offers.”

Birkholz is a graduate of the University of Nebraska College of Law. He received his undergraduate degrees from Minnesota State University in Mankato and Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato.

Merchants Bank Employees Like Sweets and Good Causes, Raise $4,816.63, Including $3,015 in Pie Auction for Rivertown Shuffle/Relay for Life

The employees at Merchants Bank have a collective sweet tooth, and they are willing to support it, especially when it comes to a great cause like the Rivertown Shuffle/Relay for Life. During 2014 Relay for Life events at Merchants Bank, Merchants’ employees raised $4,816.63, including $3,015 in a Pie Auction where Merchants employees baked and donated 26 pies that other employees bid on.

“All of our employees have been touched by cancer in some way –  themselves, a relative, a friend – to know we are able to do something to help is a great feeling,” said Kerri Bronk, who coordinates the Merchants Bank participation.

Other activities included a basket raffle, where employees put together gift baskets of special interest. Contributions for the raffle were $1,250. Other events included a bake sale, a book sale and a lunch. More events are planned before the event, including the sale of luminaries to Merchants’ employees in honor of and in memory of loved ones who have had cancer.

Bronk said the pie auction has been ongoing since 2010, and the Bank has supported the Rivertown Shuffle/Relay for Life since before she started at Merchants 17 years ago. Bronk said she is just part of a large committee at Merchants that plans and executes the employee events.

“There have been many faces on the committee over the years, but the one constant is Merchants’ commitment to the community,” Bronk said. “The Rivertown Shuffle/Relay for Life has had a huge impact on the Winona Community, and our employees step up for this cause and many others throughout the year.”

Merchants Bank Hires New Information Technology Leader

Rodney Nelsestuen has joined Merchants Bank as Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer.

Rodney Nelsestuen has joined Merchants Bank as Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer.

Rodney Nelsestuen has joined Merchants Bank as Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer, according to Sue Savat, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.

“Rodney’s expertise in planning, implementing and managing technology services will be a benefit to our customers. With his leadership, Merchants will focus on technology that best fits the needs of our customers and company operations,” said Savat.

Nelsestuen has been in the financial services industry for his entire career, including most recently at Eastwood Bank as the Vice President of Information Technology. He also has experience as a consultant for global financial institutions and technology companies.

“Merchants’ top priority is customer service and satisfaction. I look forward to contributing to that culture of service by bringing a sharper focus to technology services and the Information Technology team,” said Nelsestuen.

Nelsestuen graduated first in his class from the Graduate School of Banking in Madison. He holds a graduate certificate in Information Systems Management from the Keller Graduate School of DeVry University in Milwaukee and Chicago and a Master of Fine Arts from Hamline University in St. Paul. He received his Master in Business Administration from the Keller Graduate School and his undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

Smart Money-Planning Tips for Students to Implement Now

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Are you and your student prepared for the fall semester?

Before your student heads off to school, give them a crash course in Money 101. Merchants Bank has a number of options to help ease your student into financial freedom including checking and savings accounts, Online and Mobile Banking and more.

First, make a plan. Discussing college costs with your child is a must. Help him or her understand all school-related expenses – tuition, books, housing, gas (if he or she will have a car on campus), food, and much more – and which costs you or your child is responsible for. If your child received financial aid, how will that affect paying for college? Explaining the basics and setting expectations up front will make future money discussions easier. Of course, don’t forget to explain what a budget is and set one.
…and stick to it. Maintaining a budget is a skill your child will need to learn. What tools can you use to help him or her stay on track? With Merchants’ eChecking or Free Checking, students have free access to Online and Mobile Banking to track account activity 24/7. In addition, using a feature such as Manage My Money through Online Banking, can help students understand how they spend their money, set alerts when accounts hit a certain balance and much more.
Talk about banking options. Giving your child an overview on the types of banking accounts, services and cards is a good place to start. Most students will need a checking account, so review basic account features and potential fees (overdraft, ATM and otherwise). A Merchants Bank Customer Service Representative at your local branch is a good resource for this conversation. If your student will be living away from home, discuss how they can review their accounts online or on their smartphone and where they can take out cash when they need it. Merchants Bank offers fee-free ATM service at all of our locations, as well as Kwik Trip and Kwik Star locations in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa.
 
For more information about specific accounts and services, click on the appropriate link below or contact your local branch.

Create Your Own Backyard Movie Theater

7-14 MovieOne of the most enjoyable things you can do with your family, relatives and neighbors is to create a temporary or permanent backyard movie theater. With the high cost of movies, and the price of concessions and drinks, it may be well worth considering this idea, even if just for the fun of a one-time event. Here are five things to consider when planning for an outdoor theater experience.

Types of projectors

First things first: You will need a projector of some sort. There are DLP and LCD projectors available. DLP stands for digital light processing, using mirrors for reflecting light. LCD stands for liquid crystal display, and is like the displays used for most home TV screens. What type you will choose is a matter of preference — and budget — and you will need to do a little research to decide which is best for your needs.

Screen possibilities

There are varying types of screens, from inflatable (costing $300 to $10,000 or more) to manual projection, pull-down types and screens on tripods. Doing a search engine comparison of these screens will provide you with many options to fit most budgets and lifestyles.

Sound speakers and amplifiers

What type of sound you want to provide is also a cost/quality trade-off. However, you can find many speaker systems at your local electronics store that will fit the bill. Consider whether you want to keep it simple, or whether you want full-blown surround sound. How much sound can your community handle where you live? How big will the event be? From small speaker systems — think old time drive-ins — to larger scale PA systems, there are many options to consider for any price range.

What about seating?

Are you going to provide blankets to sit on? Maybe lawn chairs? Folding chairs? Most movies are two hours or so in length; it’ll be important to consider your guests’ comfort.

Other things to consider

It might be wise to keep track of what the weather is going to be like on the night of your event. Weather.com is a great website for forecasting several days ahead. Also, do you live in an area where bugs are flying about? Maybe consider little handouts of bug spray, citronella candles or some other form of mosquito control. Also consider setting up a self-serve vending area for popcorn and snacks.

Outdoor theaters provide great family and community fun, and make for memorable good times for all ages.

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Events in August – Join Us!

CalendarOfEventsOur staff invites you to join them at these great events throughout August. Be sure to follow us on our Facebook page for information on these events or pictures from other events you may have missed. 
 
August 6: Corn and Brat Blast, 4:30-7:30 p.m., Merchants Bank – Caledonia.
 
August 7: Cannon Falls Community Appreciation, 5-7 p.m., Merchants Bank – Cannon Falls. Merchants Bank staff will be serving Brats, hot dogs, and the fixings served in our parking lot by the Porkmaster’s, Musical entertainment by the Cannon Falls Community Band.
August 15: Goodview Days Kiddie Parade, 10 a.m.
 
August 15: Goodview Community Appreciation Picnic, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., Merchants Bank – Goodview. As a part of the Goodview Days celebration, we will be serving brats and refreshments in our parking lot.
 
August 17: Goodview Days Grand Parade, 1 p.m.
 
August 19: Rochester Community Appreciation, 4-6 p.m.; Merchants Bank – Rochester Green Meadows.
 
August 24: Gladiolus Days Parade, 1 p.m.; 7th Street near Fire Department in St. Charles.
 
August 25: Eau Claire Annual Community Appreciation Tailgate; 4-6 p.m.; Merchants Bank – Eau Claire. Merchants Bank staff will be serving pulled pork sandwiches and refreshments in the Bank parking lot.

Prevent Fraud on Your Merchants Bank Cards

fraud word abstractPreventing fraud on your bank accounts can feel like a daunting process, but at Merchants Bank, we make it easy. By collaborating with us, you’ll have 24/7 fraud detection monitoring on your debit and credit card accounts and gain access to education on latest fraud alerts and trends. The fight to prevent fraud involves not only our expertise and diligence, but a constant open line of communication with each of our customers.

How does fraud detection at Merchants Bank work?

  • We work with our trusted partners, FraudWatch at Elan Financial Services and VISA Falcon Fraud Prevention Services, to monitor fraud trends and detect fraudulent transactions on your debit or credit card accounts 24/7.
  • We will call you in the event of a suspicious transaction. You may receive a call from our partners, Elan or Falcon, who will make you aware that the call is being placed on behalf of Merchants Bank.
  • When our partners call you they will ask you for some identifying information – such as the last four digits of your Social Security Number. They will never ask you for your full number. If you are uncomfortable and don’t want to speak with our partners, please call your local Merchants Bank office and verify the transaction or let us know that you did not make the purchase in question.

What can you do to prevent fraud? Keep in touch!

  • Ensure the Bank has your most up-to-date contact information. Call your local branch if you need to make any changes.
  • Contact us before you go on vacation and don’t be shy about sharing the details, for example: dates, exact locations and how we can contact you while you’re gone. If you make purchases in a state or country where you don’t normally use your card, we may think these transactions are fraudulent unless we know otherwise.
  • If you forget to contact us before you left on vacation, call a Customer Service Representative at your local branch during your trip to provide the information listed above.
  • Contact us if you’ll be making a large purchase that would be uncharacteristic when compared to your purchase history.

Click here for more security information from Merchants Bank make sure to review the Alerts section of our website.