Kaleb Storm Joins Merchants Bank as a Commercial and Ag Banker

Kaleb Storm

Kaleb Storm has joined Merchants Bank as a Commercial and Ag Banker, according to Randy Domeyer, Senior Vice President and Commercial Banking Manager for Merchants in Winona.

“Kaleb’s experience in commercial and ag lending will be a benefit to his customers and add strength to our team here at Merchants,” Domeyer said.

Storm brings industry experience in banking as a Commercial and Ag Banker, as well as a credit analyst, from Unity Bank, working both in Wisconsin and Minnesota. He has experience in both SBA (Small Business Administration) and FSA (Farm Service Agency) loans.

Storm also brings practical experience in agriculture, which will help him understand the needs of his customers first-hand. He worked on the family farm near Westby growing up and looks forward to continue helping family in the St. Charles and Dover area. He has also worked as a Vineyard Manager, again near Westby.

“I understand what’s important in making a good loan, and I understand and appreciate the value of hard work,” Storm said. “The values that I have are consistent with Merchants’ values, and that was important in my decision to join this organization.”

Storm has a degree in Business Administration/Business Finance from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

“I look forward to getting to know the area and the people who make this a special place,” Storm said.

Merchants Bank has 21 locations, including its locations in Winona, Goodview and other Minnesota locations in St. Charles, 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. Loans are subject to approval. Twin Cities-based Merchants Bank Equipment Finance is also a division of Merchants Bank, N.A.

Area Business Leader John Killen Elected to the Merchants Bank Charter Board of Directors

John Killen, Board of Directors

John Killen, President & CEO of WinCraft, Inc., was elected to the Merchants Bank Charter Board of Directors at its April 17 meeting, according to Scott Biesanz, Chairman of the Charter Board of Directors.

Since graduating from the University of Kansas in 1985, Killen has spent all but four years of his career with WinCraft, an industry leading manufacturer of licensed and promotional products for retailers, professional sports teams, concessionaires, colleges, businesses, distributors and schools. Killen spent four years working for the NBA during its great resurgence in the late 1980s and early 1990s, developing the corporate premium and promotions business as well as promoting the USA Basketball Dream Team.

“WinCraft is a leader in its field in the country,” Biesanz said. “With that leadership position comes insight to how businesses throughout the region and throughout the country view opportunities for growth. John will be able to share that and more, strengthening our board as we continue to grow.”

In addition to leading nearly 700 employees at Winona-based WinCraft, Killen has contributed his talents to a number of organizations over the years. John serves as a board member for The Vernon Company, Newton, IA, and on various advisory boards at Winona State University and Saint Mary’s University. Recently he’s spent time as a member of the National Marketing and Communications Committee for Ducks Unlimited.

“Merchants is a regional banking leader, and I look forward to lending my experience and knowledge to the Board,” Killen said. “It is a privilege to be able to serve with a group with such a broad base of expertise.”

Killen and his wife Wendy live in Winona. They have two sons. John Jr., 23, is a Marketing Manager at WinCraft and Henry, 21, is a Junior at the University of Kansas.

The Merchants Bank Charter Board of Directors is responsible for the fiduciary duty to carry on the business of banking and for providing oversight and strategic direction for Merchants while insuring the safety and soundness of the organization. Without a separate local Community Advisory Board for Winona, Goodview, St. Charles, Eau Claire, and Merchants Bank Equipment Financing, the Bank’s the Charter Board of Directors serves in this capacity as well for those locations.

Merchants Bank has 21 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. Additionally, Twin Cities-based Merchants Bank Equipment Finance, a division of Merchants Bank, N.A.

Q&A with Two Business Banking Experts: Meet Annette Bleninger & Jeff Carter

Q&A-Annette&Jeff

Did you know we have over 40 Commercial Bankers and Treasury Management experts available to help your business? At every local branch, you’ll find a Commercial Banking team ready to get to know your business and provide meaningful financial solutions.

This month we’re meeting two of the team who serve our clients in the South Metro area:

  • Jeff Carter, Commercial Banker in Cottage Grove and Hastings
  • Annette Bleninger, Treasury Management Sales Officer and Certified Treasury Professional (CTP) in Rosemount

Read on to learn more about Jeff, Annette and how they approach working with business customers every day.

Share a little about your background and banking career

Annette: I have worked in financial services for over 20 years, with more than 14 of those years in Treasury Management. I started with Merchants Bank in September of 2017 and am very happy to be with a community bank that really strives to find meaningful, valuable solutions for our business customers.

Jeff: Likewise, I have been in the financial services industry for over 20 years, with 15 years in commercial lending. I joined Merchants in 2013 and have spent most of my career in community banking culture, where my passion lies.

What do you like most about your job?

Annette: I really enjoy the variety of customers that I meet when we go out to visit businesses. It is so interesting to hear about your passion and see your facility. Having that background knowledge and relationship really helps us work together to create the most efficient Treasury management plan for your situation.

Jeff: Getting to know you, our business customer, is one of the most rewarding parts of my job as well. I really enjoy creating relationships with business owners. At the end of the day, I strive to bring you value – whether that’s products, services or counsel – to help you succeed. I hope these relationships are lifelong and meaningful.

What kinds of business do you typically work with and how do you help them?

Jeff: The beautiful thing about community banking is that we can help every business in our community.

Annette: Yes, that’s definitely true. I work with businesses of all sizes and variety every day. Treasury management solutions can be used by any business – big or small. I help businesses like yours come up with plans to make their day-to-day processes more efficient, reduce the potential for check or electronic fraud, while allowing them access to their cash as needed.

Jeff: In addition to Treasury Management services, we also have deposit accounts to help your business with daily financial needs and grow your money. We even offer business checking account analysis, free of charge, whether your account is with us or elsewhere. We know the needs of a business change over time and we want to be sure you’re in the account that best serves your needs.

Then on the loan side, we can provide smart solutions to leverage capital and grow your business. No matter where you are on your business journey, from start-up to expansion, we have the products and expertise to assist you at any stage.

What do smart business owners do?

Annette: Security is a big concern for our customers, so I think smart business owners make information security a priority. You can start small. One of the most important things a business can do is monitor their daily activity in their accounts to catch fraudulent activity early. Whether you are using our fraud management products (like Positive Pay), or managing it on your own through daily monitoring in online banking, it is a critical function.

Jeff: For me, smart business owners understand the value of a relationship with their key financial partners (ie: banker, CPA, attorney, insurance agent, etc) and will learn how we can all work together to assist in their success. Consistent communication and collaboration amongst your key sphere of influence can keep you on track and uncover unforeseen obstacles and opportunities.

What is something not many businesses know about working with Merchants Bank?

Jeff: Merchants is large enough to provide the level of products and services every business needs but is culturally small, meaning, the focus is on local bankers creating local relationships to support the communities that we serve.

Annette: Along the same lines, I think it’s important to note that we are most interested in finding solutions that work for your business and help you succeed. We are not here to pressure you into using and/or paying for products that may not be the best fit for your needs.

How would you describe your team approach to working with businesses?

Annette: I typically work very closely with our Commercial Bankers. As one of our business customers, we try to help you understand each team member’s main area of expertise, but we are always willing to take your call and direct it to the correct person. You will never hear “that’s not my job” at Merchants Bank.

Jeff: The Merchants Commercial Banking team brings you many areas of expertise, which include our lenders, Treasury management experts, lending assistants, credit analysts, and more. We are very supportive of one another and team up to provide assistance and bring more value to you.

What does community banking mean to you?

Annette: Community banking means being a trusted partner for our business customers. We truly get to know you, your business, and your needs and expectations so we can be proactive instead of reactive with our approach.

Jeff: To echo what Annette said, community banking is all about relationships and value. As Bankers, we need to know our customers by building relationships in order to provide the most valuable solutions for their situation so they are successful. We live in the communities we serve and successful businesses build strong communities. We do it together.

Learn more about business and commercial banking at Merchants Bank:

 

Loans are subject to credit approval.

Merchants Financial Group, Inc. Announces Earnings of Nearly $3.95 Million Through the First Quarter of 2018

Greg Evans, President & CEO

Merchants Financial Group, Inc. (MFGI) announced net income of $3,949,425 through the first quarter of 2018, according to MFGI President & CEO Gregory M. Evans.

“It has been a very good start to the year thanks to the work of our employees across our locations,” Evans said. Net income for the first quarter was more than $1.8 million ahead of last year.

In acknowledgment of the performance, the MFGI Board of Directors authorized an 8.9% stockholder dividend increase from 56 cents per share to 61 cents per share.

“We had strong and consistent contributions throughout our company. Each of our four Bank regions was ahead of its plan for the year, as were our leasing division and our secondary market mortgage operation. We have experienced year-over-year deposit and loan growth, and we have focused on credit quality,” Evans said. “I am optimistic about the remainder of the year.”

Year-over-year deposit growth was $57.2 million, and year-over-year loan growth was $49.9 million. Mortgage loan volume for the first quarter was $75 million, exceeding the Company’s forecast by $5 million for the quarter. In addition to providing mortgage services for its locations, Merchants also provides correspondent mortgage banking services to more than 62 bank charters with 130 locations across Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and North and South Dakota.

MFGI has recorded three consecutive years of record net income. Net income in 2017 was $20,878,465, including $14,297,105 in core earnings, a record on its own, and a $6.5 million accounting adjustment as a result of the reduction of a deferred tax liability, necessitated by the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

MFGI owns 21 Merchants Bank locations, divided into four Bank regions, 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. All banks are FDIC members and equal housing lenders. Additionally, MFGI also owns Twin Cities-based Merchants Bank Equipment Finance, a division of Merchants Bank, N.A.

The ownership of Merchants Financial Group is made up of its 440 employees and its shareholders, mostly individuals and families from Southeastern Minnesota and West-central Wisconsin.

Merchants Financial Group, Inc. Reports Third Consecutive Record Year to Shareholders and Appoints Directors to its Board

Greg Evans, President & CEO

During its annual meeting Thursday, April 5 Merchants Financial Group, Inc. (MFGI) shareholders learned details behind MFGI’s third consecutive record year, re-elected two Directors, elected a new Director and bid farewell to a long-time member of the MFGI Board of Directors.

MFGI Board Member Richard J. Pope, who is retiring from the MFGI Board and the Merchants Bank Charter Board of Directors, provided shareholders with perspective on MFGI’s long and consistent growth. Pope, the Chairman of the Board, WinCraft, Inc., has served the Merchants organization as a Board member for 36 years.

Joining Pope in making presentations were MFGI President & CEO Greg Evans and MFGI CFO Sue Savat. Savat provided a detailed look at the past year, while Evans provided overall industry perspective and took a look ahead at MFGI’s future.

MFGI formally reported net income of $20,878,465 for 2017. The record earnings report includes $14,297,105 in earnings from Merchants core business activity in 2017, which surpassed 2016’s record earnings total by $140,000 on its own. Additionally, Merchants recorded an accounting adjustment of more than $6.5 million as a result of the reduction of a deferred tax liability, necessitated by the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 occurring before year-end.

ShareholderMeetingAward

From left to right: Sue Savat, Scott Biesanz, Dick Pope and Greg Evans. Pope was recognized for his 30+ years on the Merchants Financial Group, Inc., Board of Directors and the Merchants Bank Charter Board of Directors.

“We are thankful for our customers’ trust, the efforts of our employees and the support of our shareholders,” Evans said. “We are especially grateful for the guidance our boards of directors provide to our banks as we grow, sharing their understanding of the communities we serve. Dick (Pope) has been vitally important to our growth because of the insight he has shared, and his influence will continue to be felt as we continue our growth.”

Ann E. Merchlewitz was elected to a three-year term as a new Director for the MFGI Board. Merchlewitz is Executive Vice President and General Counsel for Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. A Winona resident, she has been a long-time member of the Merchants Bank Charter Board of Directors.

Re-elected to three-year terms as Directors were Michael F. Cichanowski, Chief Executive Officer of We-no-nah Canoe, Inc., and Bruce E. Ryan, President of Ryan Windows & Siding, Inc. of Rochester.

Also recognized was Steven G. Kohner, President of Modern Ready Mix, who retired after 15 years on the Merchants Bank Charter Board of Directors.

Evans also noted that MFGI Director Timothy J. Murphy, Partner at Hammell & Murphy, P.L.L.P. of Caledonia, is stepping off the MFGI Board after many years of service, but will continue as a member of the Merchants Bank Charter Board of Directors and the Advisory Board of Directors for Caledonia, Lanesboro, Rushford and Spring Grove, where he serves as Board Chairman.

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. Additionally, MFGI also owns Twin Cities-based Merchants Bank Equipment Finance, a division of Merchants Bank, N.A.

The ownership of Merchants Financial Group is made up of its more than 440 employees and its shareholders, mostly individuals and families from southeastern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin.

B.J. Hamilton Joins Merchants Bank as an Assistant Vice President/Mortgage Lender

B.J. Hamilton has joined Merchants Bank in La Crescent as an Assistant Vice President/Mortgage Lender, according to Steve Christiansen, Merchants Bank President in La Crescent and Onalaska.

“B.J. has built a strong following in our area because of his commitment to meeting and exceeding the needs of his customers,” Christiansen said. “Our customers will value his knowledge of lending and benefit from his ability to make sure their needs are taken care of from start to finish.”

Hamilton had been a mortgage lender at Altra since 2013. Before that, he spent nearly ten years in Montana, both working in home lending for Montana banks and working as a project manager for a construction company.

“Merchants has impressed me since I moved to the Coulee Region. Merchants has a great reputation for taking care of its customers, and it offers a full range of mortgage products. I’m especially excited for my customers who are considering building because of our 5 percent down construction loan. That can really help them get started building right away,” Hamilton said. “Plus, I had a former co-worker that was so happy when she made the move to Merchants that I had to consider it when an opportunity was available.”

Hamilton is involved in the area. He is a member of the La Crosse Area Builders Association and the La Crosse Area Realtors Association. He is a former member of the Great Rivers United Way Funds Distribution Committee and a former Board member of the St. Thomas Child and Family Center in Great Falls, Montana.

Merchants Bank has 21 locations, including its location in La Crescent, and other Minnesota locations in Winona, St. Charles, Rochester, Rushford, Lanesboro, Caledonia, 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. Loans are subject to approval. Twin Cities-based Merchants Bank Equipment Finance is also a division of Merchants Bank, N.A.