Jim Vrchota Joins Merchants Bank in Winona as a Vice President and Commercial Banker

Jim Vrchota, Vice President and Commercial Banker

Jim Vrchota, Vice President and Commercial Banker

Jim Vrchota has joined the team at Merchants Bank as Vice President and Commercial Banker, according to Randy Domeyer, Senior Vice President and Commercial Banking Department Manager

“We are excited to have Jim join our team in Winona,” Domeyer said. “His experience in business development and lending will benefit our customers and our lending team here at Merchants Bank.”

Vrchota has more than 33 years of experience in the banking industry, much of it as a Senior Lender and Market President. Most recently he served as Senior Vice President at United Prairie Bank in Spicer, Minnesota, where he worked in commercial and ag lending. Vrchota also has a great deal of experience in SBA (Small Business Administration) lending.

“I am happy to be a part of a banking organization that has such a tremendous reputation for helping its customers meet their goals,” Vrchota said. “I look forward to becoming a part of the Winona community.”

Vrchota has a long history of community involvement, especially in the areas of economic development and community service.

John Piscitiello Joins Merchants Bank in Apple Valley as a Commercial Banker

Piscitiello, Johncrop

John Piscitiello, Commercial Banker

John Piscitiello has joined Merchants Bank in Apple Valley as a Vice President and Commercial Banker, according to Merchants Bank Regional President Lawrence Stovern.

“John’s experience with commercial lending and his experience in the Twin Cities market will allow him to assess and meet the needs of his customers,” Stovern said. “We look forward to John growing with us as we continue to expand our reach in the Twin Cities.”

Piscitiello has been in the banking industry the past 16 years, most recently with Associated Bank. He has also worked with the Safire Group, Merrill Lynch/Bank of America, and he started his career working in construction lending for his own company.

Piscitiello is a Winona native and graduate of Saint Mary’s University in Winona. Merchants Bank was founded in Winona.

“I grew up with Merchants Bank and know that it is an incredible organization and an exceptional lender. It’s also one of the best kept secrets in banking in the Twin Cities. That’s starting to change, and I look forward to introducing more business owners and key decision makers in the Twin Cities to Merchants Bank,” Piscitiello said.

Visit our website to learn more about business loans, lines of credit and more. Subject to credit approval.

Merchants Financial Group, Inc. Posts First Quarter Earnings Ahead of Plan and Ahead of 2014

Rod Nelson, President/CEO

Rod Nelson, CEO

Merchants Financial Group, Inc. (MFGI) announced first quarter net income of $3,358,297, more than $620,000 ahead of plan and more than $560,000 ahead of 2014, according to Merchants Financial Group, Inc. President & CEO Rodney R. Nelson.

“We think the result bodes well for the remainder of the year,” Nelson said. “We have seen increased mortgage volume and income because of the influence of the low interest rate environment, and our commercial bankers continued their great efforts in establishing relationships that have led to increases in the commercial loan portfolio.”

As a result of the positive performance, the MFGI Board of Directors authorized a semiannual dividend of 50 cents per share to shareholders during its April meeting, the same dividend as paid after the third quarter of 2014. The dividend will be paid June 19 to shareholders of record as of May 15.

The first quarter income comes on the heels of Merchants Bank’s earnings of $12,349,685 in net income in 2014, its second highest total ever. Merchants posted net income of $11,612,049 in 2013 and $12,439,492 in 2012, its record year.

MFGI owns 21 Merchants Bank locations, including Minnesota locations in Winona, St. Charles, Goodview, Rochester, Rushford, Lanesboro, Caledonia, La Crescent, Spring Grove, Cannon Falls, Red Wing, Hampton, and the southern Twin Cities metropolitan suburbs of Apple Valley, Cottage Grove, Hastings, Lakeville and Rosemount. Merchants has Wisconsin locations in Eau Claire and Onalaska. Merchants Bank was founded in 1875 and is celebrating its 140th anniversary this year. All banks are FDIC members and equal housing lenders. Merchants Capital, the company’s leasing arm, is based in the Twin Cities.

Merchants Bank has more than 425 employees, many of whom give significant volunteer time to organizations in their communities. Additionally, during 2014, Merchants Bank made charitable donations to nearly 300 organizations. The ownership of Merchants Financial Group is made up of its employees and mostly individuals and families from southeastern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin.

Concerned About FDIC Insurance Coverage for Your Business?

Merchants Bank, CDARs, ICS

Deanna Ellinghuysen, Merchants Bank Customer Service Representative and CDARS/ICS expert, explains the details and benefits of CDARS (Certificate of Deposit Account Registry Service) and ICS (Insured Cash Sweep) accounts.

Q: How does a CDARS or ICS account work?
Deanna: CDARS, a Certificate of Deposit account, and ICS, an insured cash sweep account, provide additional FDIC insurance for deposits in excess of $250,000 – the standard insurance amount set by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Your money is automatically deposited in amounts of less than $250,000, which allows for compounding of interest, through a network of pre-selected, highly rated banks. This ensures that your entire amount on deposit is FDIC insured.

Q: Why would my business open a CDARS or ICS account?
Deanna: If your business has over $250,000 worth of excess funds and is concerned about FDIC insurance, a CDARS or ICS account is for you. If you want to protect your large deposits with FDIC insurance…these two products are the tools. It’s really about peace of mind. In addition, if you’re publicly funded, a CDARS or ICS account could help you avoid the extra bookwork associated with pledged funds.

Q: What are the terms rates for CDARS and ICS accounts?
Deanna: CDARS accounts are similar to other certificates of deposit at Merchants Bank. Businesses can choose a term from four weeks up to three years. The rates follow our CD rates by market and can be found at merchantsbank.com.

ICS accounts allow for more flexibility because it works like a savings account. Businesses can make unlimited deposits, there is no minimum balance and six withdrawals are allowed per month. Current rates can be found at merchantsbank.com.

Q: How do I open a CDARS or ICS account for my business?
Deanna: You can contact the Customer Service Representative at your local Merchants Bank to start the process. We open it for you and the distribution of funds to other banks is automatic. We like to say these accounts are great because the customer works with one bank, has one rate and gets one statement. It’s that simple.

To learn more about CDARS and ICS for your business, contact us.

CDARS and ICS accounts are also available for individuals. Ask us for more details.

What is Mortgage Pre-Approval and Why Does it Matter?

Merchants Bank, Mortgage, Pre-approval

In 2014, approximately a third of Merchants Bank customers who applied for a construction or mortgage loan also took the step to get pre-approved. While mortgage pre-approval should be a crucial part of the home buying process, buyers don’t always perceive it as necessary or valuable.

What is mortgage pre-approval?
Mortgage pre-approval is a simple application process that can be completed in person or online to determine if you qualify for a mortgage. Your credit and income information are the main factors in determining qualification. If you do qualify, a pre-approval will also let you know the mortgage amount qualify for.

Why should I get pre-approved?

  1. Find your house faster.
    Mortgage pre-approval will give you a clear picture of the type of home you can afford. You’ll be able to narrow your housing search to homes within your price range and save yourself the heartache of falling in love with a house outside of your price range.
  2. Know your potential expenses.
    With a pre-approval, you’ll have a set loan amount you’ve been approved for prior to property selection. Your pre-approval should also determine how large of a down payment will be needed. In addition, make sure to take into account other potential housing expenses such as a home inspection, fees (realtor, appraisal, filing fees, etc.) and taxes. With all of this information, you’ll be able to make accurate predictions for your housing expenses and mortgage payment.
  3. Have confidence and move quickly when making an offer.
    Some of the best homes can sell quickly and if you don’t have your paperwork in order, another person may make an offer on your dream home before you can. With pre-approval you avoid the hassle and can have confidence that you’re putting in your best offer. Plus, sellers appreciate the assurance that comes with buyers who are already pre-approved for a mortgage.

Interested in applying for mortgage pre-approval? Visit our website to or your local Merchants Bank.

Subject to credit approval.

Meet Dawn Garms, Mortgage Lender at Merchants

Garms,DawnWhen did you start your banking career?

Dawn: I started as a mortgage Lender with Altra in 2001. I was there for twelve years and then came to Merchants in 2013.

What is your top tip for a first time home-buyer?

Dawn: Get pre-approved first. Pre-approval helps you determine the maximum amount you can spend to purchase a home. You can also go over what to expect for monthly payments, down payments and other mortgage options with a lender at that time. It really gives you a clear picture of what you can afford and how that fits into what you’re comfortable with for your personal monthly budget.

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

Dawn: The best thing they taught me is the importance of knowing your finances. Know what you can handle so that you are comfortable in your monthly budget.

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

Dawn: I would travel all over Europe for an extended period of time, and explore all of the different countries.

Besides money, what’s your favorite green thing?

Dawn: The green of fresh trees on a mountain hike.

What’s one lesson you learned when buying your own home?

Dawn: Use a lender that is knowledge so they can guide you through the process. Buying a home should not cause a headache…it should be a smooth, pain-free process.

Subject to credit approval. Contact Dawn today to start the application process for mortgage pre-approval. To find current mortgage rates and apply online, visit our website.