Meet John Aarness, Mortgage Lender at Merchants Bank

John Aarness Merchants Bank Mortgage LenderWhen did you start your lending career?

John: I started my lending career in southern California in March of 1972. The bulk of my time was spent originating FHA and VA loans. Eventually I moved to Minnesota with my wife and started at Merchants in 2001.

What is your top tip for someone looking to build a home?

John: Be patient, talk to an experienced builder and know what you want. Knowing what you want is the hardest part. I would also suggest building a traditional house…remember, you have to sell it eventually.

What’s one thing your mom or dad taught you about money?

John: Earn it before you spend it. I always earned money to pay for something I wanted, whether it was shoveling sidewalks when I was younger or getting a part-time job when I was old enough.

If you won the Powerball what’s the first thing you would buy?

John: I have three boys and I would pay off their mortgages.

Besides money, what’s your favorite green thing?

John: I have a 1984 ugly green Vespa scooter. It’s a real beaut, despite the color. A fun machine.

Picture your dream house. What’s your favorite room and why?

John: I think it would be a luxury garage…heated, with a refrigerator, a large work bench and fully equipped with all the tools I need. Of course, it’d have a big TV too.

Contact John today to get start the application process for your home building or buying project. To find current mortgage rates and apply online, visit our website.

New Staff Here to Help You

NewtoTeamPhotos2-15
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.
Kelsey Banicki has joined Merchants Bank as a Peak Time Teller in Winona. Kelsey previously worked at Fastenal in Scanning Support as well as WinCraft and Reds IGA. Kelsey is excited to be part of Merchants.
Dawn Buck has joined Merchants Bank as a Part-Time Teller in St. Charles. Dawn and her husband, Daryl, have three teenage boys who all love to bow hunt. They reside in rural St. Charles and have acreage to support wildlife and hunting. She enjoys cooking and hosting family events.
Veronica Colletti has joined Merchants Bank as a Part Time Teller in Winona. Veronica is a graduate of Winona State University with a Political Science major. She is excited to be able to now serve the community that has become her home with her new position.
Amy Engrav has joined Merchants Banks as a Teller in Winona. Amy previously worked at Perkins as the General Manager. She enjoys family time with her husband of 16 years, Eric, and their sons Graham and Ian. Amy loves to run and just completed one 5k every month in 2014.
Jorge Espinoza has joined Merchants Bank as a Part-Time Teller in Lakeville. Jorge previously worked at Office Max as a Sales Consultant and at Panera Bread as a Cook. Jorge is excited to be working at Merchants and is looking forward to getting to know everyone.
Julie Pearson has joined Merchants Bank as Correspondent Mortgage Account Executive. Julie previously worked at The State Bank of Richmond as a Loan Officer and at Security State Bank of Aitkin as a Real Estate Loan Officer. Julie and her husband, Paul, have four wonderful children and two grandchildren. She enjoys quilting and started a non-profit chapter in 2013 called “Just Because Quilting”. Julie and her husband love traveling, camping, dining out and getting out and meeting people.
Emily Werber has joined Merchants Bank as a Teller in Rochester. Emily previously worked at Kohl’s as a Customer Service Associate and in the cash office for the past 10 years. Emily is married and has a nine year old daughter. They also have three cats. Her family enjoys gardening in the Spring and Fall.

Meet Deb Kemp, Credit Card Manager at Merchants

Deb and her husband, Sam

Deb and her husband, Sam

How long have you been with Merchants?

Deb: I’ve been here 23 years. Originally, I was hired to help with customer data clean up and sat next to the person in charge of Premier Club (now Events and Adventures). I’ve worked in a lot of different areas of the bank including Premier Club, Loan Servicing and as a Lending Assistant. In 2001, I started working in Credit Cards. I’ve worked in banking all my life. It’s all I know how to do! It all started when I was in high school and worked as a part-time Proof Operator.

What is your top banking tip?

Deb: Paying your bills on time helps keep your credit score up. You don’t want to wreck your credit score…it takes longer to fix a bad score than establish a good credit score. If you don’t have a credit score, a credit card is a good way to establish credit.

What’s one thing your mom or dad taught you about money?

Deb: My mom was very frugal and she didn’t waste money. I remember when graham crackers were kept in our oven because they were a treat. She was really budget conscious and taught me to think about my purchases. When I’m in a store, I ask myself if I really need something. Sometimes I even leave the store, walk around and come back to the store to give myself enough time to decide if I really wanted something.

If you won the Powerball (currently estimated at $194 million) what’s the first thing you would buy?

Deb: I would buy a new boat. Our boat broke this year and we go fishing as much as possible…so we really need a new boat. I would also take flying lessons and travel a lot.

Besides money, what’s your favorite green thing?

Deb: Plants. I have probably about 50 house plants – really! I also like spinach.

Click here to learn more about Credit Cards at Merchants Bank. Credit cards are subject to credit approval.

Kevin Finke Joins Merchants Bank as an Assistant Vice President and Business Banker

KevinFinkeWelcome

Kevin Finke has joined the Merchants Bank team as an Assistant Vice President and Business Banker, according to Randy Domeyer, Senior Vice President and Business Banking Department Manager.

“Kevin’s knowledge and energy will be a definite benefit to those people looking to build their business through working with Merchants Bank,” Domeyer said. “Kevin has taken on a great deal of responsibility helping businesses succeed in the markets he has served, and we know he will continue to build relationships here in our area.”

Before joining Merchants Bank, Finke worked as a business lender in both Wisconsin and Minnesota. He has a Business Administration degree from Winona State University.

“Merchants Bank has the reputation as a business banking leader. I look forward to enhancing that reputation as I help businesses reach their goals” Finke said. “My wife and I also look forward to returning to the Winona area. It is the place where we belong.”

Contact Kevin for your business banking needs today: kjfinke@merchantsbank.com.

Meet Kathy Simon, Credit Card Assistant Merchants

Kathy and her husband, David

Kathy and her husband, David

How long have you been with Merchants?

Kathy: Six years. I started as a File Clerk, then went to the Loan Servicing department and now I’m in the Credit Card department.

What is your top banking tip?

Kathy: Make sure to check your credit card statement each month for purchases you did not make. There’s a lot of credit card fraud. Sadly, it is so common and happens every day. It’s important to be aware of what is going in your accounts.

What’s one thing your mom or dad taught you about money?

Kathy: Save. Save for a rainy day. I think that was probably the thing they drilled in my head. I started babysitting when I was ten and had opened my first savings account at that age. When we were growing up, I loaned my older siblings money because I was the only one who listened to my parents’ advice.

If you won the Powerball (currently estimated at $194 million) what’s the first thing you would buy?

Kathy: I would pay off my mortgage, give to my family members and give to charity. Then, I’d take a great tropical vacation.

Besides money, what’s your favorite green thing?

Kathy: I would say trees. We used lived in Wyoming and it felt like everything was brown there. When we would travel home to Minnesota, we would get off the airplane and drive straight to Lake Calhoun to walk around the lake. Everything was so green and lush…we missed it.

Click here to learn more about Credit Cards at Merchants Bank. Credit cards are subject to credit approval.

Meet Emily Buxengard, Credit Card Assistant at Merchants

Emily with her family (from l-r): Celia, Bailey, Marcus and Allen.

Emily with her family (from l-r): Celia, Bailey, Marcus and Allen.

How long have you been with Merchants?

Emily: I was hired on October 31, 2003 as a Teller. In the beginning, I worked at our Lakeside branch in Winona for about a year and then moved to the Downtown location. Eventually, I began helping the Credit Card Department two days a week and started full time in Credit Cards in 2006.

What is your top banking tip?

Emily: Explore mycardstatement.com and the Score Card Rewards website. Both are great online tools for our credit card customers and usually provide answers to common questions you may have about your credit card account, ScoreCard points and more.

What’s one thing your mom or dad taught you about money?

Emily: My mom only gave me one piece of advice when it came to credit cards. She told me that if you won’t have the money to pay the credit card bill when you get it, you can’t have it. It’s something I still follow today. I’ll go into a store and want to buy something, but I know that I can’t have it because I can’t be sure I can payoff the bill when I get it. I think it’s a good piece of advice to follow, especially when you are new to having a credit card.

If you won the Powerball (currently estimated at $194 million) what’s the first thing you would buy?

Emily: I would pay off my mortgage and set up my children for life. Then, I would donate to my top five charities. I would also love to pay it forward anonymously…do things like pay for another family’s meal in restaurants without telling them or pay for coffee of the person behind me in the drive through. I want to pay it forward and I want to teach my kids how to do that.

Besides money, what’s your favorite green thing?

Emily: Avocados. Without a doubt. I put avocados on everything: chili, quesadillas, pizza…we put them in our smoothies and use it instead of mayo in egg salad. They are an amazing.

Click here to learn more about Credit Cards at Merchants Bank. Credit cards are subject to credit approval.

Chad Anderson Has Joined Merchants Bank as Vice President and Business Banker

Chad Anderson, Business BankerChad Anderson has joined the team at Merchants Bank as Vice President and Business Banker, according to Randy Domeyer, Senior Vice President and Business Banking Department Manager.

“We are excited Chad has decided to join our team,” Domeyer said. “He’s an experienced and knowledgeable banker who is well known and has strong relationships in our market. We are sure he will enhance what we have to offer business customers throughout the area.”

Before joining Merchants Bank, Anderson had been employed at Winona National Bank the past 12 years as a business banker. He has experience in all areas of business lending, including commercial, residential, real estate, equipment loans and SBA (Small Business Administration) lending.

“This is a good opportunity for me to build and enhance relationships in the area business community as a member of the Merchants Bank team,” Anderson said. “I look forward to contributing to the growth of the bank and representing Merchants in the community.”

Anderson is a native of the area and is active in community organizations, including currently serving on the boards of the Winona ORC and the Winona Area Chamber of Commerce.

Contact Chad for your business banking needs today: 507-457-1196 or cjanderson@merchantsbank.com.