Merchants Bank Looks to “Swipe Out Hunger” for Area Food Shelves

SwipeOutHungerAppBannerMerchants Bank will be donating 5 cents each time a Merchants Bank credit card or debit card is used between November 29 and December 15, up to a total of $10,000, for area food shelves during “Swipe Out Hunger,” the Bank’s second annual Facebook Giveaway.

The “Swipe Out Hunger” giveaway will work like this:

  • Supporters of area food shelves will be able to vote once per day between November 29 and December 15 for their chosen organization
  • At the end of the giveaway, nominated food shelves will receive a percentage of total amount of money raised based on the percentage of votes that organization receives on Merchants Bank’s Facebook page,

The Food Shelves were nominated by bank locations (Bank locations making the nomination are noted in parentheses), and there were a number of locations that nominated the same organization. Participating this year are: SEMCAC Houston County Food Shelf (Caledonia and Spring Grove), Friends in Need Food Shelf (Cottage Grove), La Crescent Food Shelf (La Crescent), The Hunger Task Force (Onalaska), Channel One Rochester (Rochester), Southeast Minnesota Education & Resource Center (St. Charles), Winona Volunteer Services (Winona), 360 Communities (Lakeville), Eagan & Lakeville Resource Center (Apple Valley and Rosemount), Hastings Family Services (Hastings), the Cannon Falls Food Shelf (Cannon Falls), SEMCAC in Preston (Lanesboro), SEMCAC in Rushford (Rushford), the Randolph Food Shelf (Hampton) and the Red Wing Area Food Shelf (Red Wing).

10 Days Of Giving: The need continues

Greg Evans

Greg Evans

Written by Greg Evans for the Winona Daily News

For each of the past 25 years, the first 10 days of December have been treated as special at Merchants Bank and throughout the Winona community. It has become an extraordinary tradition for the entire community to embrace a spirit of collaboration and giving that far exceeds the expectations established when the idea for the “10 Days of Giving” food drive was hatched in 1989.

As the recently-hired marketing coordinator for Merchants Bank at the time, I became aware of the inability for Winona Volunteer Services to keep and adequate supply of non-perishable items on its emergency food shelves to meet the needs of people who were going hungry throughout Winona County. I was stunned. Growing up in Winona, I never saw a visible sign of hunger in our community. It shouldn’t be that way in a community as richly blessed as Winona.

Fundamental to Merchants Bank is the responsibility to step up as a community leader when there is a need to be met. I knew of an emergency food drive initiative coordinated by WGN-TV/Radio for the city of Chicago. I wondered aloud to the bank’s executive management team led by Pete Roehl if it would be possible for the bank to make something like that happen in Winona. Clearly, it was more than simply possible.

The partnership between Merchants Bank and Winona Volunteer Services that began modestly in 1989 has now grown to include virtually every viable institution throughout the community. “10 Days of Giving” has become its own brand, standing on its own because it symbolizes all that is truly special about my hometown. When there is a need, Winonans roll up their sleeves and help other Winonans.

As “10 Days of Giving” has grown beyond anybody’s expectations, you have helped feed hundreds of needy people throughout Winona County. And, unfortunately, the need for the services provided by Winona Volunteer Services continues to grow. As the community celebrates this, the 25th year of the “10 Days of Giving” food drive, please take pride in knowing your participation has provided emergency relief for hundreds of Winona Volunteer Services clients who remain virtually invisible to most of us. More importantly, give generously again this year at any Merchants Bank location, participating businesses or Winona Volunteer Services so that nobody in Winona County will go hungry this winter.

Greg Evans is Regional President of Merchants Bank — Cannon Falls, Hampton and Red Wing

Merchants Bank to Acquire Alliance Bank Location in Eau Claire, Wisconsin

MahoneyDickMerchants Bank and Alliance Bank have come to an agreement for Merchants Bank to purchase an Alliance Bank location in Eau Claire, according to Merchants Financial Group, Inc. President & CEO Richard L. Mahoney.

“We believe this is an excellent opportunity to expand into an important market,” Mahoney said. “We believe that our expertise in business banking and company resources will be appealing to business owners in the Eau Claire area.”

The purchase includes the Alliance Bank Mall Drive location, as well as deposits and loans from the Mall Drive location and Alliance’s Pinnacle Way location. All told, Merchants Bank will be acquiring about $48 million in deposits and $17 million in loans.

“We know that Merchants Bank will take care of customers from both locations and will provide those customers the service they have come to expect,”said V. Philip Reim of Alliance Bank.
Terms of the sale were not released. Pending regulatory approval, Mahoney said he anticipates the sale being completed near the middle of February.

“Our strong equity position allows us to act on opportunities that make sense for us to pursue,” Mahoney said. “With our organic growth and acquisitions, we expect continued growth for the foreseeable future.”

For this and other Merchants Bank news:

25 years, 250 Days of Giving

10DaysCoChairsWritten by Terry Hawkings and Mark Metzler

As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of Merchants Bank’s “10 Days of Giving,” we thank you for your generosity in helping those in need. We’ve been successful in providing more than 2.1 million pounds of food over the first 24 years of the “10 Days of Giving.” The accomplishments are great, but the need remains strong.

Take a look at these numbers:

  • In 2012, 4,374 different people were helped by the food shelf at Winona Volunteer Services.
  • On average, 2,111 people and 941 households were served each month at Winona Volunteer Services
  • On average, 257 individuals and 111 households were served with emergency food from Winona Volunteer Services
  • On average 35,712 pounds of food were distributed each month
  • Of the people who received food, 36 percent were employed, 47 percent receive government benefits, and 9 percent have no income

Winona Volunteer Services, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary, has incredible buying power. Each dollar given to Winona Volunteer Services can buy a great deal of food. For instance, in July of 2013, 35,783 pounds of food was purchased from the Channel One Food Bank for distribution. The average cost of each pound distributed was $1.04. Given this buying power, we ask that you seriously consider giving a monetary donation to this year’s “10 Days of Giving” food drive. It will have more of an impact for more people.

So, what can you do to help make sure that no one in Winona County goes hungry? We ask that you join by giving what you can.

You can bring your monetary donation or donation of non-perishable food items to any Merchants Bank location.

You may also feel free to send a check to Merchants Bank, ATTN: 10 Days of Giving, 102 E. 3rd Street, Winona, MN 55987. Merchants Bank is a Member FDIC.

You may also donate directly on the Winona Volunteer Services website at

At this time of year it is easier to remember people are less fortunate than us, but hunger remains throughout the year, and it is important to remember that contributions from the “10 Days of Giving” help to meet that need for a significant part of the year.

Thank you again for your past support. We look forward to your contributions in making the 25th anniversary of the “10 Days of Giving” memorable for our community, and more importantly, for those who need our help.

Terry Hawkings and Mark Metzler are co-chairs of the 2013 10 Days of Giving campaign.

Welcome to Our New Friends!

We’re excited to welcome our new friends and neighbors in the Rushford, Lanesboro and Red Wing communities. You may have questions regarding how your accounts will be handled once you become a Merchants Bank customer on November 15. The links below provide answers to many common questions about checks, debit cards and more! Please take a look at them and contact us with any questions you still have:

Rushford & Lanesboro personal customers:

Rushford & Lanesboro business customers:

Red Wing ag customers:

Ken Graner Named President of Upcoming Merchants Bank locations in Rushford and Lanesboro

Kenneth Graner

Ken Graner

Ken Graner has been appointed President of Merchants Bank in Rushford and Lanesboro, according to Merchants Bank Charter President Rod Nelson.

Graner will oversee the operations in the new locations. Merchants Bank is scheduled to take over ownership of the new locations from Associated Bank at 5 p.m. November 15.

“I look forward to continuing and building relationships with people in the area,” said Graner, who is a resident of Lanesboro. “We believe that this is a great area for us to grow.”

Before coming to Merchants four years ago, where he has worked in Merchants Bank’s St. Charles location, Graner had worked in Associated Bank’s Lanesboro location, starting there in 1993.

“Certainly, this is a homecoming of sorts for Ken,” Nelson said. “We’re happy for him, and we are especially happy for our soon-to-be customers in Rushford and Lanesboro. Ken has great experience to assist our small business and Ag customers. I believe that Ken’s knowledge, expertise and ability to build long-term relationship will serve those customers well.”

With the addition of Rushford and Lanesboro, Merchants Bank will have 20 locations and $1.348 billion in assets. Merchants has locations in Winona, St. Charles, Goodview, Rochester, Caledonia, La Crescent, Onalaska, Spring Grove, Cannon Falls, Red Wing, Hampton and the southern Twin Cities metropolitan suburbs of Apple Valley, Cottage Grove, Hastings, Lakeville and Rosemount. The “flagship” Merchants Bank in Winona was founded in 1875. All banks are FDIC members and equal housing lenders. Merchants Capital, the company’s leasing arm, is based in the Twin Cities. Merchants stock is closely held, but is available to the public when shares become available. There are approximately 400 shareholders, mostly individuals and families from southeastern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin.

For this and other Merchants Bank news, please visit

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