Meet Brian Wester: Home Loan Expert at Merchants Bank

Brian Wester, Mortgage Lender

What does community banking mean to you?

Brian: Being part of a banking group that’s a smaller entity compared to a larger big box bank. I think Merchants has a more customer-centric focus. We provide more opportunities for one-on-one interaction with customers. I like to think of it as being involved in your community and more personalized.

What is your top tip to home buyers?

Brian: I would recommend that home buyers engage with their lender 90 days before they want to start actively looking for a home.

There are a variety of topics to discuss regarding qualifying for a loan and it’s best to start talking about them early: including analysis of your credit, employment, income & assets. It’s also beneficial to review loan scenarios so you are aware of your options and what your estimated monthly payment and required cash to close will look like. This knowledge will help you look at homes with a price point that fits your qualifications.

What one thing on your bucket list?

Brian: To go to Europe.

What is one of your proudest accomplishments?

Brian: Raising two daughters, getting them through college and out on their own.

What do you enjoy about coming to work every day?

Brian: I enjoy the interaction with customers, who have a number of different needs from loans to checking accounts. I get to wear all these different hats. I really like coming to work because I know there are a lot of people that I can get involved with because of the variety of areas I’m involved in at the Bank. Since I became Personal Banking Manager, I’m not just focused on mortgage any longer and it’s opened up more opportunities to meet and greet all of our customers. My job keeps me challenged, busy and time goes by quickly.

 

Whether you’re looking for your cozy first home, something bigger for your growing family or the peaceful lake cabin you’ve dreamed about, you can find your local Merchants Bank Mortgage Lender here: http://bit.ly/2zmcYC1

 

Loans are subject to approval.

Meet Jenna DeBaere: Mortgage Lender and Home Loan Expert

Jenna DeBaere, Mortgage Lender

What do you like best about being a mortgage lender?

Jenna: Getting to know my customers and providing the best customer service. Buying a home is exciting and I like that I can be involved in the process.

What is your top tip for home buyers?

Jenna: My top tip for home buyers is to get pre-approved. Once we know the total loan amount they’re pre-approved for, we can discuss down payment options and what kind of monthly mortgage payment would work with their budget.

What’s the best trip you ever took?

Jenna: I went to Playa Del Carmen, Mexico with my family. One of the highlights of the trip was when we rented scooters in Cozumel and explored the island.

Who is your mentor and why?

Jenna: My mom. Over the years she has given me the help, advice, and tools to succeed and be successful in my personal and professional life.

What do you hope your customers say about you?

Jenna: That I am easy to work with and go above and beyond to help get them into their home.

 

Whether you’re looking for your cozy first home, something bigger for your growing family or the peaceful lake cabin you’ve dreamed about, you can find your local Merchants Bank Mortgage Lender here: http://bit.ly/2zmcYC1

 

Loans are subject to approval.

Get to Know Paula Hogan, Merchants Bank Mortgage Lender

Paula Hogan, Mortgage Lender

What is your top advice for home buyers?

Paula: Get pre-approved for a mortgage loan before you begin your home search.

What do you like best about being a mortgage lender?

Paula: I enjoy being able to help home buyers achieve their dreams of home-ownership.

How do you stay busy?

Paula: Reading, biking, fishing, attending my daughter’s sporting events and going up north.

Who is your mentor and why?

Paula: My dad. He is a very kind and generous person.

How are you involved in the community?

Paula: I attend and help with Chamber of Commerce events and am a board member of the Cannon Falls Bomber Dance Team Parent Association. I also volunteer throughout the community through my church.

 

Whether you’re looking for your cozy first home, something bigger for your growing family or the peaceful lake cabin you’ve dreamed about, you can find your local Merchants Bank Mortgage Lender here: http://bit.ly/2zmcYC1

 

Loans are subject to approval.

Get to Know Cindy Luedke, Merchants Bank Mortgage Lender

Cindy Luedke, Mortgage Lender

What do you enjoy about coming to work every day?

It’s never the same. It’s very interesting. As I’ve been here longer, I continue to see some of the customers I helped in the beginning, which is a great feeling.

What is your top mortgage tip?

Before you start shopping for a home, make sure you know what your credit scores are. You can view your credit score three times a year for free. Knowing your scores will help when you talk with your mortgage lender.  Scores drive a lot of factors like interest rates and loan program options.

What do you like best about working with customers?

Every customer is different and has a variety of needs.  I enjoy helping them achieve their dreams either with a purchase, refinance or a construction loan.

What’s your secret talent? 

To make table arrangements out of whatever is available. I end up doing that a lot for special events.

What’s your birthday meal?

My mom was always a good cook, so birthday meals were just as good as our everyday meals. She was always cooking. I remember I would get up at 7:15 in the morning for school and could smell homemade cinnamon rolls. I never understood how she had time to make them. They were still hot and made from scratch.

 

Whether you’re looking for your cozy first home, something bigger for your growing family or the peaceful lake cabin you’ve dreamed about, you can find your local Merchants Bank Mortgage Lender here: http://bit.ly/2zmcYC1

 

Loans are subject to approval.

Brad Peterson Elected to Merchants Bank Charter Board of Directors

Brad Peterson, Charter Board of Directors

Brad Peterson, Chairman & Chief Acquisition Officer for Mississippi Welders Supply, was elected to the Merchants Bank Charter Board of Directors at its April 16 annual reorganizational meeting, according to Scott Biesanz, Chairman of the Charter Board of Directors.

After graduating from Northwestern University, Brad served in the United States Navy for eight years as a nuclear engineer, surface warfare officer and instructor. Since 1991, he has held leadership positions with Mississippi Welders Supply, a retail and wholesale distributor of welding and industrial supplies, specialty gases, metal fabricating and fire safety equipment. Peterson was named President/Owner of the company in 1999, Chief Acquisition Officer in 2013 and Chairman in 2014.

“Because of his extraordinary leadership experience and business acumen, Brad will be a tremendous asset to our Board as Merchants continues to grow,” Biesanz said. “As the head of an industry leading organization like Mississippi Welders Supply, Brad will contribute insights on business trends throughout our region and a helpful perspective on finding the right balance of traditional business and technology services to enhance company growth.”

Peterson is an active community leader and volunteer. He currently serves as a board member for the Winona Area Industrial Development Association and Independent Welding Distributors Cooperative. He is the President of the Gases and Welding Distributor Association and a member of the American Welding Society and Society of Manufacturing Engineers.

“Community banks play an important role in our local economy and Merchants’ strong position in the region cannot be undervalued,” said Brad. “I’m looking forward to helping provide leadership and strategic direction with such a talented group of board members.”

Peterson lives in Winona with his wife, Gaby. They have two sons. Sam is a Mechanical Engineer in Minneapolis and Chandler is a Sophomore at Loyola University Chicago.

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 ensuring the safety and soundness of the organization. The Charter Board also provides general counsel associated with Merchants’ commitment to be a recognized community leader throughout the Bank’s service footprint in alignment with its community banking charter.

Get to Know Julie Augedahl: Mortgage Lender and Home Loan Expert

Julie Augedahl, Mortgage Lender

What do you like best about being a mortgage lender?

Julie: The best part of being a mortgage lender is helping customers fulfill their dreams of owning their own house, whether it be their first home, newly constructed home or vacation home.

How do you approach working with your customers?

Julie: Just smile and be kind! I have found listening is the best practice. Getting to know your customers and their wishes and values is important when purchasing a home!

What is your top tip for homebuyers?

Julie: It really is a best practice to get pre-approved. That way you’re aware of your price range when you’re looking for a home, and have an idea of what kind of house payment you’ll be comfortable with while being able to continue your lifestyle.

How do you stay busy?

Julie: I have two kids that keep me busy. I also enjoy playing golf, softball and volleyball, love to cook and bake as well.

What is something people don’t know about you?

Julie: I lived in Cody, Wyoming for three and a half years. Its beautiful out there everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime.

Whether you’re looking for your cozy first home, something bigger for your growing family or the peaceful lake cabin you’ve dreamed about, you can find your local Merchants Bank Mortgage Lender here: http://bit.ly/2zmcYC1

Merchants Bank to Acquire The First National Bank of Northfield

Greg Evans, Merchants Bank President & CEO and David Shumway. First National Bank of Northfield CEO

Merchants Bank and The First National Bank of Northfield have reached a definitive agreement for Merchants to acquire the Northfield banking institution, according to Gregory M. Evans, President & CEO of Merchants Financial Group, Inc. and Merchants Bank, N.A. The agreement is subject to regulatory agency approval, but it is fully expected that the deal will close before year-end 2019.

“We are thrilled with the opportunity to be joining the Northfield community and continuing The First National Bank’s tradition of high quality customer service and community involvement,” said Evans. “We are also humbled by the stewardship responsibility that comes with ensuring First National’s legacy with its customers and in the community will continue to be nurtured and never forgotten.”

Both First National Bank and Merchants Bank have rich histories of service in their respective communities in southeastern Minnesota. First National was chartered in Northfield in 1873, and Merchants’history began in Winona in 1875.

“There are tremendous challenges today for smaller community banks, so we made the strategic decision to find the right partner to provide broader financial services and technology tools that will be expected by our customers well into the future,” said David Shumway, CEO for The First National Bank of Northfield. “We know Merchants is the right partner, and our due diligence identified Merchants as an organization absolute in its commitment to shared values of community leadership and strong service culture.”

The First National Bank of Northfield has $207 million in assets, $157 million in loans (plus an additional $60 million in sold loan participations) and $183 million in deposits. Internationally recognized as the bank that defeated Jesse James in 1876, First National Bank operates out of two branches in Northfield and a loan production office in Minneapolis.

Under the terms of the agreement, Merchants Financial Group, Inc. will acquire all of the outstanding stock of The First National Bank of Northfield in an all cash transaction. The amount of the sale was not disclosed.

Merchants Bank is a full service community bank with 21 branches in southeastern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin. Headquartered in Winona, MN, the Bank is the fifth-largest banking organization headquartered in the state of Minnesota with more than $1.76 billion in assets.