Rick Barry Elected to ELFA Financial Institutions Business Council Steering Committee

Rick Barry, MBEF President

Rick Barry, President of Merchants Bank Equipment Finance (MBEF), has been elected to a two-year term on the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association’s (ELFA) Financial Institutions Business Council Steering Committee, according to an announcement from ELFA.

“The reason I wanted to serve on this committee is to provide an additional voice to the community banking segment of our industry,” said Barry.

Barry is one of 20 committee members representing bank-related and other financial institutions (commercial banks, investment banks, and multi-line finance companies) engaged in the middle-market and large-ticket sectors. The committee analyzes the needs of companies in this segment and recommends to the Board of Directors how to meet those needs. The committee is one of five primary constituent bodies at ELFA.

“Having Merchants Bank Equipment Finance represented on the Steering Committee provides a voice to the needs and priorities of the small and medium-sized businesses we serve,” Barry said. “One of the responsibilities of the committee is to lobby our representatives in Congress on behalf of our institution and our customers.”

MBEF primarily provides equipment lease and loan financing options to businesses located throughout the central U.S. and also partners with other finance companies in equipment finance transactions outside its marketing footprint.  MBEF finances tangible assets over terms of 2 to 10 years on equipment with values generally ranging from $50,000 to over $10 million. MBEF serves many industries, including construction, transportation, healthcare, manufacturing, food and agriculture.

Merchants Financial Group, Inc. (MFGI), the parent company for MBEF and which also owns 21 Merchants Bank locations in Minnesota and Wisconsin, has more than $1.6 billion in assets and is one of the largest independent financial organizations in its region.

ELFA is the trade association that represents companies in the $1 trillion equipment finance sector, which includes financial services companies and manufacturers engaged in financing capital goods. ELFA members are the driving force behind the growth in the commercial equipment finance market and contribute to capital formation in the U.S. and abroad. Its 575 members include independent and captive leasing and finance companies, banks, financial services corporations, broker/packagers and investment banks, as well as manufacturers and service providers.

“10 Days of Giving” at 207,898 Pounds for 2017

Final totals for the “10 Days of Giving” Food Drive through the end of the day Thursday were at 207,898 pounds of food. The “10 Days of Giving” supports the food shelf at Winona Volunteer Services.

“As someone new to the ‘10 Days of Giving,’ it was inspiring to see the community come together to help their neighbors who needed their support,” said Merchants Bank Winona and Southern Regions President Andrew Guzzo.

Business, school, church and daycare pickups were Monday and Tuesday and some additional contributions were received on Wednesday and Thursday.

“The community has come through again and shown its generosity,” said Jen Welch, one of this year’s co-chairs for Merchants Bank. “We are truly thankful for the great work of all of our volunteers who have helped to make the food drive a success.”

The 2017 total breaks down to $93,673 in cash and 20,552 pounds of food. For the purposes of the total, two pounds of food are counted for each dollar. Last year’s total was 206,050 pounds. The total for 29 years now stands at 3,253,363 pounds.

“Our goal each year is to make sure no one in Winona County goes hungry this winter, and the work of the people in the area has helped make our way toward that goal,” Welch said.

Merchants collected nonperishable food items at its locations as well as at participating businesses, schools, churches and daycares around the area. A list of participating businesses, schools, churches and daycares is at www.merchantsbank.com/10daysofgiving.

“10 Days of Giving” Food Drive Reports 75,526 Pounds of Food Collected


Through Tuesday, Merchants Bank’s 29th annual “10 Days of Giving” Food Drive was at 75,526 pounds of food collected to benefit the food shelf at Winona Volunteer Services (WVS).

The number of pounds of food collected included $37,214 in cash and 1,108  pounds of food. Included in the amount was a $10,000 anonymous donation. Through the same time last year, 97,036 pounds of food had been collected. Two pounds of food are counted for each dollar collected. WVS Executive Director Sandra Burke pointed out at the food drive’s opening news conference that WVS can purchase $3 to $3.50 of food for each dollar it receives.

“Despite the warm weather early in the drive, people are in the holiday giving mood,” said Jennifer Welch of Merchants Bank, one of this year’s co-chairs. “We are thankful for all of their donations.”

Last year, 206,050 pounds of food was collected. The drive started this year with 3,045,465 pounds collected through its first 28 years. More events are scheduled throughout the week, including the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train, which is scheduled to be at the Winona Amtrak Station at 4 p.m. Friday. Merchants Bank will be serving refreshments during the stop. The popular Winter Wonderland Department 56 Snow Village is open to 4-7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Friday and 2-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at 64 E. 4th Street.

“If you haven’t been to the Snow Village, it is one of those displays you don’t want to miss,” Welch said. “The Holiday Train is also great entertainment for the whole family.”

Merchants will be collecting nonperishable food items at its locations as well as at schools and participating businesses around the area. A list of participating schools and businesses is at www.merchantsbank.com/10daysofgiving. Monetary donations can be made out to “10 Days of Giving”and can be mailed to, or dropped off at Merchants Bank, 102 E. 3rd Street, Winona, MN 55987. If you would like to make a donation online, you can go directly to the Winona Volunteer Services website: http://www.winonavs.org. Indicate “10 Days of Giving” after entering your name.

Arlene Schwerzler Joins Merchants Bank in Red Wing as a Mortgage Lender

Arlene Schwerzler, Mortgage Lender

Arlene Schwerzler has joined Merchants Bank in Red Wing as a Vice President and Mortgage Lender, according to Dan Massett, Regional President for Merchants Bank in Red Wing, Cannon Falls and Hampton.

Schwerzler is a familiar name and face to the Merchants Bank employees and many customers in Red Wing. As a long-time mortgage lender at Merchants Bank in Winona, Schwerzler served many customers in Red Wing.

“Many of my customers already live in Red Wing, and I’m lucky to have a strong referral network,” Schwerzler said. “I look forward to being in Red Wing every day and taking care of mortgages for my customers, the people referred to me and many new customers from start to finish.”

Schwerzler has been in banking for more than 30 years. She started as a Mortgage Lender at Merchants Bank in Winona in 1998 and also spent a short amount of time at Merchants Bank in Rochester. She has a loyal following.

“Certainly, Arlene has a great amount of experience and that helps to serve her customers, but what makes her stand apart from other lenders is her willingness to go the extra mile and to be there whenever her customers have questions,” Massett said. “Buying a home can be stressful, but Arlene takes that stress away.”

Merchants Bank offer a full-range of home mortgage products and is well known as a leader in the mortgage industry because of its commitment to integrity and service to its customers, making sure they are taken care of throughout the process. Another of Merchants Bank’s strengths is that it services its loans, which means that questions are answered by a Merchants Bank employee who lives in the area. Currently, Merchants Bank services more than $2.6 billion in home mortgage loans.

Merchants Bank has 21 locations, including Minnesota locations in Red Wing, Cannon Falls, Hampton, Winona, St. Charles, Goodview, Rochester, Caledonia, La Crescent, Spring Grove, Rushford, Lanesboro, 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. Loans are subject to approval. Merchants Bank Equipment Finance, the company’s leasing arm, is based in the Twin Cities.