Jennifer Welch and Dawn Stenberg Named 10 Days of Giving Co-Chairs


Jennifer Welch and Dawn Stenberg Named 10 Days of Giving Co-Chairs

Jennifer Welch and Dawn Stenberg have been named co-chairs for Merchants Bank’s 30th 10 Days of Giving food drive, which runs December 1-10. The effort benefits food shelf programs operated by Winona Volunteer Services (WVS), which is celebrating its 45th year. To date, more than 3,000,000 pounds of food have been collected.

“Merchants is proud to coordinate this food drive on behalf of Winona Volunteer Services. We are honored to have led these efforts for 29 years and are looking forward to making our 30th anniversary the most successful year yet,” said Andrew Guzzo, Regional President.

Last year’s campaign partnered with many events around the community, including fundraising days at local restaurants and a variety of entertainment events such as the Holiday Lighted Parade, the Holiday Concert for the Hungry and the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train. The campaign raised 207,898 pounds of food for WVS.

“10 Days of Giving brings our generous community together to support a common good. It is an honor to be a co-chair for this worthwhile event and I am so grateful for the incredible team that really makes this campaign happen,” said Welch, a Cash Management expert and the Bank’s Events and Adventures Coordinator, who is serving her fifth year as co-chair.

WVS serves many people in the Winona area. 3,168 unduplicated individuals were served at the food shelf in 2017 and the Emergency Food services helped 1,504 people. Proceeds from 10 Days of Giving also helps WVS run programs such as the Backpack Program – which helped 388 elementary students have healthy snacks during the school year. In 2017 the food shelf distributed 538,081 pounds of food.

“I am truly honored to be a co-chair for this year’s 10 Days of Giving, especially as we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the drive,” said Stenberg, a Mortgage Lender, who is serving as co-chair for the first time. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for the community to band together to support our neighbors that need the assistance of WVS.”

As in the past, Merchants will be collecting at its locations as well as at schools and participating businesses around the area. For questions, please call Welch at 457-1108 or Stenberg at 457-1109. Monetary donations can be made out to 10 Days of Giving and mailed to, or dropped off at Merchants Bank, 102 E. 3rd Street, Winona, MN 55987. If you would like to make a donation online, visit the Winona Volunteer Services website: Indicate “10 Days of Giving” after entering your name.

The 10 Days of Giving food drive is an annual community collaboration between Merchants Bank and Winona Volunteer Services to make sure no one in Winona County goes hungry each winter. Since 1989, the drive has collected more than 3,253,300 pounds of food and helped thousands of people in Winona County. In addition to the Winona drive, other Merchants Bank locations partner with their respective local food shelf in a similar effort. To learn more about the 10 Days of Giving in your area, visit

Merchants Financial Group, Inc Announces Earnings of $13,785,285 through Third Quarter of 2018, Pays 70 Cents Per Share Dividend

Greg Evans, President & CEO

Merchants Financial Group, Inc. (MFGI) announced a net income of $13,785,285 through the first three quarters of 2018 and significantly increased the semiannual dividend paid to Shareholders, according to MFGI President & CEO Gregory M. Evans.

“Our core earnings continue to be strong, which in the end benefits all of our customers, the communities we serve and our Shareholders,” said Evans. “We are proud to be a safe, strong bank with growth that allows us to contribute to the economic vitality of this specific region, where all of our resource deployment is focused.”

Net income is $3.1 million ahead of MFGI’s plan for 2018 and is an increase of $4.94 million compared to last year. Several Merchants Bank locations and the Merchants Bank Equipment Finance and Mortgage Operations divisions exceeded their respective performance forecasts through three quarters.

During its October meeting, the MFGI Board of Directors approved a dividend of 70 cents per share to shareholders, up from 61 cents per share for the first half of the year. The semiannual dividends paid to Merchants’ Shareholders for 2018 is an increase of 18% compared to a year ago.

“As is always the case, our strong performance has been the result of a total team effort. I’m proud of all we’ve accomplished together and am optimistic about our performance for the remainder of the year,” said Evans.

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.

Merchants Financial Group is a publicly-traded Company. Ownership is made up of its more than 440 employees and mostly individuals and families from southeastern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin.

Merchants Homegrown Approach to Leadership Development


L-R: Alberta Rosburg, Heidi Viestenz, Alissa Gibson, Mike Swanson, Andrew Althoff, Libbie Longfield, Marcus Krings, Vicky Kamrowski, Sarah Danielson, Dawn Stenberg, Sue Blagsvedt, Kim Kubis, Jim Vrchota, Wendy Cagle, Rachel Larson, Ken Graner and Kristine Valk.

We all want a team of talented staff. A business with skilled employees who care deeply about their customers is on the road to success. The people who work for your business can make a big difference. At Merchants, we feel this combination – our talented team coupled with personalized service – is what sets us apart from other financial institutions.

Attracting and retaining difference-makers as part of the Merchants team has always been important to us. We also feel it’s one of the reasons we’ve celebrated so many successes. That’s why we’re proud to have launched the I Believe Leadership Series, Discovering the Leader In You! in 2018. The program was designed by Merchants’ staff Kristine Valk, Training Director and Alberta Rosburg, Chief Human Resource Officer and is based on the philosophy of servant leadership.

“After recognizing that Merchants needed a leadership program, Kristine and I tried to find one that we could send our employees to,” said Alberta. “However, we quickly realized that if we wanted a program to reflect the Merchants’ culture, we needed to develop it ourselves. I’m so proud of Kristine, all of her hard work and the end result. The 15 students currently attending are growing in new ways to help them be servant leaders for our co-workers and customers.”

Students in the I Believe Leadership Series are from several areas of the Bank, including customer-facing departments such as Credit Cards, Mortgage and Commercial Banking as well as support departments like Compliance & Risk, Human Resources, Marketing and Mortgage/Loan Operations. The program curriculum covers a wide range of topics, relevant for those working with customers face-to-face or behind the scenes:

  • Temperament assessment and working with different personalities
  • Effective coaching skills
  • Understanding and applying strengths
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Communication and conflict resolution
  • Leading through change
  • Employee motivation and accountability
  • Team building

At this time, students are approximately halfway through the series. Many are already seeing a positive impact in their day-to-day interactions with customers and co-workers.

“The I Believe Leadership Series has been such a valuable and positive experience thus far. Fifteen of us have learned about servant leadership and how to focus on traits that lead to good, productive interactions on both a professional and personal level. The section on Finding your Strengths has been one of my favorites to date. A test identified five of our strengths as well as ideas on how to use them to strengthen communication. It’s exciting to think about how each of us will benefit from these new skills and knowledge. “– Wendy Cagle, Loan Review Officer in Winona.

“The information from the program has helped me be more focused on my conversations with customers and associates during my daily interaction,” – Ken Graner, Market President for Lanesboro and Rushford.

In addition, Training Director Kristine Valk has witnessed the impact of the series firsthand: “Before the program began, some of our participants didn’t really know one another. As we continued through the program, attendees have learned more about one another and are embracing each other’s talents. It’s really become an environment of trust and openness that’s resulted in more collaborative work.”

The program will run on an annual basis with current students graduating in April 2019 and a maximum of 20 new students beginning the series shortly after that. As part of one of five strategic priorities for the bank, talent management and leadership development will continue to be a key focus for Merchants in the years to come. Our I Believe in Leadership Series graduates will help all of us strive to serve each other and you better.

To learn more about working at Merchants Bank:

Dan Nistler to Lead Merchants Bank Locations in Rochester

Dan Nistler, Market President

Dan Nistler has been promoted to Market President at Merchants Bank in Rochester, according to Dan Massett, Regional President.

Nistler’s primary responsibilities will be to provide leadership for Merchants Bank’s two Rochester locations, along with meaningful community engagement for the Rochester area. He will also continue serve as a Commercial Banker and trusted financial advisor for business clients. Nistler succeeds John Doyle, who will be retiring as the Rochester Market President for Merchants at the end of 2018. Doyle has led the growth of Merchants in Rochester since Merchants entered the market in 1999.

“Dan is a proven business developer and has over 20 years of community leadership in the market,” said Massett. “He is eager to continue building the Merchants Bank presence in the Rochester area.”

Nistler has been with Merchants since 2013 and has been a banker in the Rochester area since 1999. He is a US Navy veteran, serving on the USS Salt Lake City (SSN-716), and graduated from Winona State University with a bachelor’s degree in Finance.

“Merchants Bank has an iconic position in the region as a banking leader and I’m grateful for the opportunity to play a leadership role in Rochester,” said Nistler. “The Rochester area has a bright future and I think Merchants is well positioned to play a key role the community’s future growth.”

Dan and his wife, Carole, have lived in Rochester since 1998. Their daughter Natalie is currently attending the University of Minnesota. Nistler is an active Rochester community volunteer. He was previously involved with the Rochester Rotary Risers and Rochester Area Family YMCA and currently volunteers his time for the Gamehaven Council (BSA), St. Francis Catholic Church, Rochester Catholic Schools, KSMQ Public Television and Winona State University-Rochester Advisory Group. He enjoys spending time in his hometown of Ely, MN whenever he can, especially on the lakes of the Boundary Waters.

Since 1999, Merchants Bank has been a community partner in Rochester, with two locations to help individuals and businesses achieve their financial goals. With a focus on mortgage and business financing, Merchants has been fortunate to grow as Rochester has grown. In addition to traditional banking services, the Bank also offers a full line of business loan, lease and floor plan finance solutions, digital banking, security apps, cash management tools and wealth management services.

Merchants Bank has 21 locations, including Minnesota locations in Rochester, Winona, Goodview, St. Charles, Goodview, Caledonia, La Crescent, Spring Grove, Rushford, Lanesboro, Red Wing, Cannon Falls, Hampton as well as Twin Cities locations in Lakeville, Apple Valley, Cottage Grove, Hastings 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.

4 Fall Home Tune Ups to Review Now


Have you been putting off a home repair or remodel project? This Fall might be the right time to take it on, and potentially save yourself time and money on expensive repairs next Spring.

So where should you start? Here are four areas to review before winter hits.

1. Window Replacement
Average Cost – $5,773*
New windows can have a big impact on your utility bill, especially if you make the investment in glass with multiple panes. If you notice drafts, condensation or frost on your windows it may be time to upgrade.

2. Roof Repairs
Average Cost – $688*
Maintaining the quality of your roof is critical to keep your home protected and dry. Winter weather especially can aggravate small leaks and other problems, so take the time to assess your roof now.

In particular, you should pay attention to:

  • Blown off or missing shingles
  • Bad or leaking flashing around pipes, chimneys, skylights or the gutters running down the angles of your roof
  • Locations of possible ice dams
  • Water build up around low slopes or inadequate pitches

Hiring a professional to help review and fix these problems can save you from future headaches and expenses.

3. Furnace Tune Up or Replacement
Average Cost – $284 to repair, $4,000 to install*
Don’t let your comfortable, cozy home be interrupted by a broken (or worse, dead) furnace. Part of keeping your furnace in tiptop shape includes occasional maintenance from a professional, which is routinely done before the temperatures drop.

If your furnace is 10-15 years old – the average age of a furnace – it may be a better financial investment to replace it. Just like upgrading your windows, a new high-efficiency furnace can also save you money on your utility bill.

4. Exterior Paint
Average Cost – $2,500*
While a fresh coat of paint is easy on the eyes, it can also help prolong the life of any outdoor surface that will be covered in snow. Help protect your siding, trim, deck and stairs with new exterior paint and sealant.

At Merchants Bank, our Home Equity Line of Credit can help qualified applicants pay for fall home improvements or repairs. If you have equity in your home, now is the time to take advantage of our great introductory rate of as low as 2.9% APR for the first six months and 5.00% APR after that.**

Contact your local Merchants Bank Personal Banker to get started, or apply online now.


* *Subject to credit approval. As of September 27, 2018, the Annual Percentage Rate on a home equity line of credit with an 80% or less loan-to-value and a credit score greater than or equal to 700 was 5.00%. This special offer has fixed-rate pricing as low as 2.9% APR for the first six months, based on relationship reward discounts. Following that six-month period, the rate will become variable, subject to change, based on U.S. Bank, N.A., prime rate plus a margin that is determined based on the loan-to-value in your home and your credit score at the time of application. Current rates vary from 5.00% to 7.75% APR. Maximum possible APR is 18%. Minimum possible APR is 4.00% An origination fee may apply, in addition, you are responsible for certain fees to third parties, such as appraisers, credit reporting firms and government agencies, which are generally from $100–$1,000. Following the first year, there will be an annual fee of $25. Offer available on new home equity lines of $10,000 or more only or on existing lines of credit with an increase of at least $10,000. Consult your tax advisor regarding the deductibility of interest expense. Property insurance will be required. Limited time offer.