Merchants Bank Hires New Human Resource Leader

Beth Ede, Chief Human Resource Officer

A local Human Resource professional, Beth Ede, has joined Merchants Bank and its Executive Leadership Team as Senior Vice President/Chief Human Resource Officer, according to Greg Evans, President & Chief Executive Officer.

“I’m tremendously excited to have Beth join the Merchants organization,” said Evans. “Her role is critical to our brand promise to be the Bank that Service Built, because our people have the responsibility of making that happen.

“At Merchants, we believe that culture trumps strategy. From the candidates we considered, Beth stood out as a great culture fit. She understands that people are our most important asset, and will help us strengthen our talented team and ensure that the unique culture here continues to thrive.”

Ede has more than 25 years of experience in professional training and Human Resource (HR) management. She was most recently the Human Resources Services Advisor at WA Group (formerly Winona Agency) and has held several senior HR positions. Her background also includes HR consulting, compensation and benefits administration, change management, strategic planning, talent development and recruitment.

“I’ve always been a strong proponent and advocate for company culture. You can talk strategy all day, but it’s the culture that moves things forward – and I can tell that’s true at Merchants,” said Ede. “I have the opportunity to work with amazing, talented people who are so committed to growing the company and serving all stakeholders.”

Ede is a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP). She is a Cochrane native and attended Winona State University where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology. She serves on several local boards, including the Winona Area Chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management and the Riverland Energy Cooperative. She is also a volunteer member of the Human Resource Committee for Habitat for Humanity.

Merchants Bank is a full-service community bank with 21 branches in southeastern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin. Headquartered in Winona, MN, the Bank has more than $1.75 billion in assets and was founded in 1875. Member FDIC.

Julie Augedahl, Merchants Bank Mortgage Lender, Now Serving Lanesboro & Rushford

Julie Augedahl, Mortgage Lender

Merchants Bank Mortgage Lender, Julie Augedahl, is now serving the Bank’s Lanesboro and Rushford locations to help meet the needs of the local housing market, according to Ken Graner, President for Merchants Bank in those communities.

“Julie works hard to make the home loan process understandable and easy for her customers,” said Graner. “We’re looking forward to sharing her expertise with those buying or building a home in this area.”

Augedahl will be serving these new markets in addition to Caledonia and Spring Grove, where she has been a Mortgage Lender for Merchants Bank since 2017. She has more than 10 years of experience in personal banking and lending and is a Caledonia, MN native.

“The best part of my job is helping people fulfill their dreams of homeownership. As I expand the area I serve, I’m excited to be able to help even more people plan for home ownership or make the move to their next home,” said Augedahl. “Starting the process is easy – just give me a call, schedule an appointment to meet with me in person or visit for an online application.”

The Merchants Bank Mortgage team is comprised of 19 local lenders available throughout our regional footprint and more than 50 support staff. Merchants’ Mortgage Lenders understand the variety of traditional mortgage and specialty programs available today, as well as construction loan options, and can assess which make the most sense for an individual situation.

Merchants Bank is a full-service community bank with 21 branches in southeastern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin. Headquartered in Winona, MN, the Bank has more than $1.75 billion in assets and was founded in 1875.

Becky Zoellner Promoted To Treasury Management Officer

Becky Zoellner - Treasury Management Officer

Becky Zoellner has been promoted to Treasury Management Officer at Merchants Bank, according to Shawn Sackman, SVP/Senior Lending Officer.

“Becky consistently provides excellent customer service to our business clients, demonstrates a strong work ethic and continues to be a valuable team member. She has also played a critical role in improving our Treasury Management processes and offerings,” said Sackman.

Zoellner has been in banking for nearly 10 years and joined Merchants in 2012. She has previous experience as a Credit Manager and Personal Banker and began working in the Treasury Management area in 2016. Zoellner is dedicated to partnering with commercial clients across the Southern Region of Merchants’ footprint in the markets of La Crosse, La Crescent, Caledonia, Spring Grove, Rushford and Lanesboro.

“Merchants Bank is a regional leader in Commercial Banking and continues to make technology investments in Treasury Management services,” said Zoellner. “Our customers have access to premium efficiency and security options. Being at the table to develop and design our updated Treasury Management suite has given me the opportunity to be a real advocate for our business customers.”

Zoellner will be graduating with a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse in May 2019.

The Merchants Bank Treasury Management & Commercial Lending team is comprised of more than 40 local experts, available throughout our regional footprint. Merchants’ Treasury Management Specialists help with cash flow strategies, custom account protection tools and effective options for collecting and making payments. As a regional banking leader, Merchants Bank can assist businesses of any size with their business financing needs, including traditional commercial loans, leases and special loan program offerings.

Merchants Bank is a full-service community bank with 21 branches in southeastern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin. Headquartered in Winona, MN, the Bank has more than $1.75 billion in assets and was founded in 1875. Member FDIC.

Congratulate New and Promoted Staff


We are happy to have these new employees on our team! If you’re interested in working with these local experts, find your branch.

New Staff

Katelyn Anderson Katelynn Anderson, IT Operations Coordinator, Winona
Brandy Anderson Brandy Anderson, Lead Teller, Cottage Grove
Elena Beck Elena Beck, Teller, Onalaska
Kyle Brodt Kyle Brodt, Credit Analyst, Winona
John Fitzgerald John Fitzgerald, Custodian, Winona
Cindy Grable Cindy Grable, Credit Admin, Winona
Teresa Holland Teresa Holland, Teller, Caledonia
Mark Jangula Mark Jangula, VP/Senior Regional Vendor Finance Manager, Merchants Bank Equipment Finance
Andrew Millis Andrew Millis, Teller, Onalaska
Melissa Peterson Melissa Peterson, VP/Commercial Banker, Eau Claire
Maria Skradde Maria Skradde, Teller, Eau Claire
Kayla Wegman Kayla Wegman, Credit Analyst, Winona

Transfers and Promotions

Amy Gutierrez Amy Gutierrez, Trust and Estate Specialist, Winona
Alejandra Hernandez Alejandra Hernandez, Customer Service Representative, Lakeville
KringsMarcus Marcus Krings, Credit Card Officer, Winona
ZoellnerBecky Becky Zoellner, Treasury Management Officer, Onalaska

Retirement Account Options: IRA Savings or CDs

Save Money - IRAs

It’s no secret that saving for retirement is important. Whether you’ve been saving for years or aren’t sure where to start, it’s helpful to evaluate your long-term savings strategy.

With so many retirement savings options, just getting started can feel overwhelming. And if you have a savings plan already, it never hurts to consider potentially more profitable or flexible options. Some retirement saving methods to consider:

  • Individual Retirement Account (IRA) Savings
  • IRA Certificate of Deposit (CD)

These accounts are similar to standard savings or CD accounts, but the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) determines maximum contribution and minimum withdrawal guidelines, which are designed to enhance the benefit of your retirement saving efforts. For comprehensive details on contribution and withdrawal guidelines, visit the IRS website.

The First Step: Traditional or Roth?

There are two options for IRA accounts: Traditional or Roth. There are benefits to each kind of account – consult your tax advisor regarding which account would be best for your situation.

At the most basic level:

  • For a Roth IRA you pay taxes on the money you contribute now. The main benefit is tax-free investment earnings. Since you already paid tax on your contribution, the money is not taxed when you withdraw it.
  • For a Traditional IRA you pay taxes when you withdraw money in retirement. You will not pay tax on your contributions, however, the money will be taxed when it is withdrawn.

IRA Savings for More Flexibility

An IRA Savings account functions essentially the same as a regular savings account: you can continue to make contributions as you see fit within the IRS guidelines and you can make withdrawals penalty-free if over the age of 59 ½. It is often used as a “parking lot” for funds until you’ve decided how you’d like to invest them.

You may benefit from an IRA Savings if you:

  • Are just starting to work on your retirement savings plan. This is a good holding place for your funds as you develop a more complex plan.
  • Have had a recent career adjustment – a job change or retirement – to roll accounts from your previous employer into, so you can continue to contribute or withdraw, depending on your situation.

The Pros of an IRA Savings Account:

  • More flexibility to make contributions and withdrawals as you see fit, within IRS guidelines.
  • Penalties for withdrawing before age 59 ½ are generally less compared to withdrawing from a CD.

The Cons:

  • Generally, interest rates on a savings account are lower than a CD.

IRA Certificate of Deposit for More Earnings Potential

An IRA Certificate of Deposit generally offers higher interest rates on your money for a designated period of time – that designated period of time is called the “term”. You are guaranteed to make that fixed rate on your money during the CD term.

A CD is started with one lump sum of money. That lump sum of money will sit in the CD, earning interest for the term of the account, for example, 24 months. If you are 59 ½ or more, you may make withdrawals penalty-free.

You may benefit from an IRA CD if you:

  • Have a larger sum of money that they can leave untouched for a longer period of time.
  • Are 59 ½ or more, as you may have the option to make penalty-free withdrawals.

The Pros of IRA CDs:

  • CD terms make earning interest very clear; it is guaranteed to make that interest rate when left to grow.
  • Generally, higher interest rates are paid on CDs, which could increase your earnings potential.

The Cons:

  • Withdrawing any portion of your deposit before age 59 ½ would most likely result in a large fee.

Other Retirement Options

If you’re interested in learning more or opening an IRA Savings or CD, contact your local Customer Service Representative.

If you’re looking for help creating a complete retirement strategy, visit with one of our Wealth Management experts.

Saving for Fun! The Benefits of a Winter FUNd Account

Winter FUNd

Left Photo: Sandra Pasche, CSR at Merchants Bank – St. Charles with her husband, Mike. Middle Photo: Dana Christensen, CSR at Merchants Bank – Winona with her husband, Mike. Right Photo: Kally Whalen, CSR at Merchants Bank – St. Charles with her husband, Jesse.

How relaxed would you feel if the holidays came around and you were confident you had enough money for gifts and family travel? How excited would you be before a trip if a large sum of money dropped into your account? How proud would you be if you could gift your child with a generous wedding or housewarming present?

Automated savings accounts, like the Merchants Bank Winter FUNd, can make achieving your savings goals easy.

For the months of January through October, you automate deposits into your Winter FUNd account – and that money grows. Then, the first week of November, you collect the total amount you deposited throughout the year – with interest!

Monthly Calendar

The automated process makes it so seamless, you forget you’re saving. Dana Christensen, a Customer Service Representative in Winona said, “I love the idea that the money goes right into the account from my payroll, so I don’t even miss the money. It is a great way to save money without having to think about it or remember to make the transfer.”

The Winter FUNd account has quite a few fans at Merchants Bank – some employees have had theirs for over 15 years. After all, who doesn’t want a gift you give yourself?


Want to take a family vacation this year? The Winter FUNd is great for saving for trips. Dana uses hers to escape the chill of winter:

“I really love this account! We take a cruise each year in the winter and I use this money as our final payment for our vacation since the timing works out perfectly.”

Sandra Pasche, a Customer Service Representative in St. Charles, also flies south in the winter, but her FUNd account serves to fund a different vacation expense:

“When my husband and I travel this gives me my spending money for our trip. When the money is directly deposited into the account from my paycheck, I don’t even miss it, so when the money paid out I always think ‘Wow! Here’s a chunk of change for us!’”


Maybe the holidays were a bit stressful last year – budgeting for gifts and sticking to it is easier said than done. But the Winter FUNd makes saving holiday money and setting that budget early a little more manageable.

Corene Richards, a Mortgage Closing Specialist in Winona, knows that being prepared makes the holidays that much more enjoyable: “I use my Winter FUNd for Christmas. It puts me at ease knowing that I will always have a set amount set aside and not have to worry about it. I’ve used this account for more than 15 years.”

The Possibilities Are Endless

Other customers have used FUNd accounts to save for projects like home remodel or family events like a wedding. Maybe you want to practice having a mortgage, so you “make payments” to a FUNd account. Then, when that money is paid out, you are that much closer to a down payment on a home. Any goal you have could benefit from a FUNd account.

Merchants Bank Winter FUNd accounts start in January – but it’s not too late to open one now! There’s only one extra month to pay your monthly contribution to catch up. If you know the total amount you’d like to save, we can help you come up with your automatic monthly deposit amount (minimum $25). To open an account or for more information, contact your local Customer Service Representative.

Hope to See You at these Upcoming Events

Save the Date - Upcoming Events

Join our staff at these great events. Be sure to follow us on our Facebook page for information on these events or pictures from other events you may have missed. 

2/22 – 2/24 Chippewa Valley Home and Garden Show at the Eau Claire YMCA Indoor Sports Center

Show Hours
Friday, February 22: 1 -8 p.m.
Saturday, February 23: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sunday, February 24: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Come visit us at our booth to say hello!

3/9 Lakeville Landscape & Home Show/Consumer Showcase at Lakeville North High School

9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Come visit us at our booth to say hello!

3/16 Rosemount Home and Business Expo at the Rosemount Community Center

9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Come visit us at our booth to say hello!

4/25 Picnic 4 the Pets
Hosted by Merchants Bank in Winona at Minnesota State College Southeast

3:30-6:30 p.m.

Join us for an afternoon of food, fun and four-legged friends!

4/25 Caledonia Community Appreciation
Merchants Bank in Caledonia

11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Please join us for hamburgers and refreshments!

4/26 Spring Grove Community Appreciation
Merchants Bank in Spring Grove

11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Please join us for hamburgers and refreshments!

4/27 Cottage Grove Spring Showcase at Park High School Activity Center

10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Come visit us at our booth to say hello!