Shining in the Spot Light

BusSpotlightSugarLoafENTaking pictures with customers, being a friendly employee, and creating a wonderful atmosphere at Sugar Loaf Ford. These are just a few of the many things part owner of Sugar Load Ford, Mike Puetz does that keeps Sugar Loaf Ford in Winona at the top of the market.

Sugarloaf Ford is the oldest dealership in Winona and was founded in 1977 by retired owner Bill Hutmacher, who grew up in Park Ridge Illinois and graduated with a Business degree from Michigan University in 1965.

Winona was a great fit for Sugar Loaf Ford, “We’ve had a strong, long run in Winona,” owner Mike Puetz says.

Puetz was hired at Sugar Loaf Ford in 2001 and became part owner in 2005. “I am lucky to get to work with a good business partner like Bill,” Puetz said, “the automobile business is without a doubt the most rewarding business one could ask for.”

It isn’t just about selling cars for Puetz, and the staff at Sugar Loaf Ford, it’s about creating a great experience for their customers. It’s not unusual to see customers stop in for a cup of coffee and lounge around in the lobby area. “Customers love to come here and we love to have them here,” says Puetz.

Sugar Loaf Ford also gives back to the community. With donations to several foundations including the Morrie Miller Foundation, Hutmacher and Puetz find it very important to give back to the Winona Community. “That’s why Merchants Bank is a great fit for us. It was an easy choice for us to bank there because of the wonderful customer and community service Merchants Bank gives,” said Puetz 

Puetz would highly recommend Merchants Bank.

“Merchants Bank is an easy choice, everyone takes care of us. They have personal service, pick up the phone when I call, and I have confidence in their ability to handle whatever comes their way. They have so far.”

Business Banker Randy Domeyer works with Sugar Loaf Ford. They have a good working relationship and have fun with each other. “Randy has helped me with many banking transactions; he takes care of business and is very professional,” says Puetz. Randy has been with Merchants Bank since 2008. You can reach him by phone at (507) 457-9310 or rjdomeyer@merchantsbank.com.

Jay Wangen Joins Merchants Bank in Winona as a Business Banker

Jay Wangen

Jay Wangen

WINONA, Minn. – Jay Wangen has moved from Merchant Bank in Rochester to join the Business Banking team in Winona, according Senior Vice President/Senior Lender and Manager of Business Banking David Grewe.

“Jay has done great work for our customers in the Rochester area. He knows what makes a successful business and a successful business relationship,” Grewe said. “He’s very generous with his knowledge and time.”

Wangen has been in banking since 1998 and has been part of the Merchants Bank team since 2005. He and his family live in St. Charles.

“I look forward to working with business owners in the Winona area to help meet their financing needs,” Wangen said. “I look forward to building long-term relationships through helping those business owners meet their business goals.”

Jay sits on the area 504 Corporation Board of Directors (the Small Business Administration development company) and is very active in his church.

Employers, if the answer is “Yes”

The high cost of insurance may be a challenge for many employers. But there may be an answer to these questions:HSAEN

  • Are you combating higher health insurance premiums? Yes
  • Are you considering or are you offering your employees a high deductible health plan (HDHP)? Yes
  • Are you looking for peace of mind about your health care expenses? Yes
  • Do you want it to be as easy as possible? Yes

Then, you’ll want a Health Savings Account (HSA) from Merchants Bank.

The Winona Area Public Schools (WAPS) is one business that is offering HSAs, and the results have been good, according to Jolie Severson, Payroll and Benefits Administrator at WAPS. More than 411 of the more than 600 employees at WAPS have HSA accounts.

“I would rate our experience as 10 out of 10,” Severson said. “The staff at Merchants is helpful with setting up our employees’ accounts online, allowing personal funds to be directly deposited. All questions and special circumstances are answered with efficiency and satisfaction.”

Severson said there are a number of other benefits for employees.

“It’s not a use it or lose it account, so all the funds in the account stays with the employee for years to come. There are employees who are building up this account for retirement with tax-free dollars,” Severson said. “Employees have become better health care consumers as they manage their medical needs.”

Plus, the account is portable if the employee were to leave and can be transferred to a spouse upon death.

If you want to learn more, talk with your insurance agent and then talk to us at Merchants Bank. We’d be happy to come on-site to help educate your employees.

Good for the Community…

When Pete Woodworth’s grandfather’s plane landed in Winona on a Sunday in 1943 at the then municipal airport, Walker Woodworth was met by three people, including Winona’s mayor, and the President of Merchants National Bank, J.R. Chappel.

By the time Woodworth left Winona the next day, Winona had a new business, the Winona Knitting Mills, and Merchants Bank had started a long-term relationship with the Woodworth family.

The relationship has grown. Walker’s son and Pete’s father, Les, was on the Merchants Bank Board of Directors for more than 20 years, and Pete has been a member of the Merchants Bank Board of Directors and the Merchants Financial Group Board of Directors since 1988.

By the Fall of 1943, the Winona Knitting Mills was up and running, and it ran for 57 years in the same location at 902 E. 2nd Street, expanding along the way. The building went from three stories and 8,000 square feet to more than six buildings and 175,000 square feet. By 1995 the company had grown to be the third largest men’s sweater manufacturer in the United States.

By late 1995, the Winona Knitting Mills merged with Hampshire Group Limited, the largest woman’s sweater manufacturer in the USA, and by 2002, Pete and his wife Joyce, had sold their interests, but there still was the issue of what to do with the property. Pete and Joyce converted the property into a professional business campus.

“We took the chance and developed it into a community resource,” Pete said.

The campus, which includes the main building that Walker first purchased, a warehouse, and four satellite buildings on eight acres, now has more than 40 tenants. The tenants are varied. The terms given the businesses are as varied as the types of businesses themselves, including graduated rates over time and phased in rental payments.

“We’re trying to make it easier for them to get up and running so the businesses are viable for the long-term,” Pete said. “It’s pragmatic. It’s good for them. It’s good for our family. It’s good for the community, and it’s good for Merchants Bank because many of these businesses are borrowing from the bank, and we’re borrowing from the bank.”

In 2004, Pete and Joyce gave WKM Properties to their children Nathan, Jacob and Lindsay. In 2009 Nathan took over running the business, which also includes a 7000 square foot building in downtown Winona, a 10,000 square foot building in Goodview and a 40,000 square foot building in Rochester.

“I’ve always liked tweaking and strengthening things, and this has been very satisfying,” Pete said. “We thought of it as planting something that would grow, something we could pass on to benefit Merchants Bank, the community and our family.”

WoodworthsForEN

Small Business Administration

SBARefreshENA Business Banker from Merchants Bank will provide specialized support for your specific business financing request. Our numerous business loan program options are designed to meet the specific needs of your business, from a business line of credit to fleet financing.

We are a SBA Preferred Lender, which means we can help qualified applicants right when they need us. We’ll listen and help you with the business loan you need. It’s that simple. Contact a Business Banker today to schedule a free, no obligation review of your business. Work with someone who cares about your business as much as you do. At Merchants Bank, we care about you and what’s right for your business. Loans are subject to credit approval.

Merchants Bank’s Jeff Carter Graduates from Graduate School of Banking in Colorado

CarterJeff

Jeff Carter

BOULDER, COLO. – Jeff Carter, Vice President and Business Banker at Merchants Bank in Cottage Grove, recently graduated from the Graduate School of Banking at Colorado (GSBC), a 25-month banking school which provides senior management and leadership education for community-banking professionals. Carter was among 164 graduates of the 63rd Annual School Session, hosted July 14-26 on the campus of the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colo.

GSBC students are recognized by their bank’s executive team as rising stars in their organizations, and as graduates, often continue to become leaders in their respective organizations.

“Completing the coursework and projects associated with the Graduate School of Banking at Colorado is a great accomplishment for community bankers around the country,” said GSBC President Tim Koch.

Graduates receive a diploma upon successfully completing six weeks of classroom training which focuses on the areas of general management, lending, leadership and human-resource management and financial management. Requirements for graduation also include comprehensive examinations, intercessions research projects and participation in a bank-management simulation course designed to provide the student with experience managing a bank.

Jeff Carter Joins Merchants Bank in Cottage Grove as Vice President and Business Banker

CarterJeff

Jeff Carter

COTTAGE GROVE, Minn. – Jeff Carter has joined the team at Merchants Bank’s Cottage Grove location as a Vice President and Business Banker. He will lead the team in Cottage Grove, according to Twin Cities Regional President Lawrence Stovern.

“Jeff’s experience and ability will be a tremendous asset to our customers, our staff and business owners throughout the area,” Stovern said “He has a great understanding of commercial, consumer and SBA loans.”

Carter has more than 15 years of banking experience, including time at TCF Bank in Bloomington, and most recently at Drake Bank in St. Paul. He has a great deal of expertise in commercial and SBA loans.

“My knowledge will allow me to look closely at a business and suggest the best course of action that business can take for financing,” Carter said. “I look forward to continuing to help businesses achieve their goals, and to continuing to help our community grow through being involved.”

Carter recently completed his course work at the Graduate School of Banking in Colorado. He is a member of the Neighborhood Economic Development Association (NeDA) of St. Paul and the West St. Paul Kiwanis Club. He has a long history of working with and volunteering his time with community organizations.