Andrew Guzzo Joins Merchants Bank as Regional President

Andrew Guzzo, Merchants Bank Regional President

Andrew Guzzo has joined Merchants Bank as Regional President, according to Merchants Financial Group, Inc. (MFGI) President & CEO Greg Evans.

Evans said Guzzo’s primary responsibility will be to provide leadership for Merchants Bank’s Winona locations, along with meaningful community engagement for the Winona area. Additionally, Guzzo will have supervisory responsibility for the strong team of Market Presidents in Onalaska and Eau Claire, WI, and Minnesota locations in La Crescent, Caledonia, Spring Grove, St. Charles, Rushford and Lanesboro. He will have a presence in all of the markets for the southern tier of Merchants’ service footprint.

“We are excited to have Andrew leading our team in the region,”Evans said.  “Andrew brings an intense passion for customer service and community leadership. He also has had significant sales and management experience, both outside and inside the banking industry. We believe his skill set is the right mix to help facilitate our continued growth for our community banking organization.”

Guzzo has spent the past 11 years in the banking industry, working for American Bank & Trust in the Quad Cities (Iowa/Illinois) area, and most recently leading NXT Bank in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Prior to that, he had more than 15 years of sales and sales management experience for US Foods.

“I look forward to helping to establish, build and grow long-term customer relationships around our region,” Guzzo said. “By every measure, Merchants Bank’s enviable culture and customer-centric commitment to the communities it serves continues to raise the bar among community banks across the region. I am humbled by the responsibility to customers and shareholders and excited at the possibilities that come from working with this team.”

Guzzo and his wife, Dawn, have four children, two boys and two girls.

The Merchants organization has reached record earnings each of the past two years and is tracking for another significant year in 2017.

Since the retirement of former MFGI President & CEO Rod Nelson in January, Evans has been serving as the Winona Bank President, as well as overseeing the banking operations for all of Merchants Bank’s 21 locations, in addition to his role as MFGI President and CEO.

With the addition of Guzzo, Merchants will have three regional presidents reporting to Evans – Guzzo for the Winona and Southern region, Dan Massett for the Central Region and Lawrence Stovern for the Twin Cities Region. Evans points out that all are supported by local presidents who have decision making responsibilities in their markets.

“Real local decision making is one way we stand apart from others in our industry. It allows our local leaders to positively influence the people and the communities they serve,” Evans said. “We recognize it is a unique model, but it best serves our customers.”

Leading Merchants’ locations in the region are: Steve Christiansen in Onalaska and La Crescent, Matt Schuldt in Caledonia and Spring Grove, Larry Accola in Eau Claire, Ken Graner in Lanesboro and Rushford, and Jim Allen in St. Charles.

MFGI owns 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.

Better, Safer and Faster Movement of Your Money

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Effective September 15, 2017, a new rule will allow for faster processing of debits from your financial accounts. Virtually all types of electronic payments will be eligible to be processed on the same day they are authorized. For example, types of affected payments could include:

  • A paper check you write, which is then scanned at the business for electronic processing
  • Online payments
  • Payments made via the telephone

This means that payments could clear your checking (or savings) account on the same day you write the check or authorize the payment. What does this mean to you? We encourage you to make sure funds are available in your account before you authorize transactions to avoid unnecessary insufficient funds fees.

Please note: This new electronic payment processing rule does not affect how debit card payments are authorized or processed.

Ben Franko Joins Merchants Bank in Eau Claire as a Mortgage Lender

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Ben Franko, Mortgage Lender

Ben Franko has joined Merchants Bank in Eau Claire as a Mortgage Lender and Assistant Vice President, according to Larry Accola, President for Merchants Bank in Eau Claire.

“We’re excited to add Ben to our team. His knowledge and passion for our community, the Chippewa Valley and mortgage lending will make the experience easy for customers as he guides them through the mortgage loan process from start to finish and helps get them into the right home,” Accola said.

Franko has been serving customers throughout the area in a number of roles over the past 13 years, including more than nine years in mortgage lending, most recently with Wells Fargo.

“I believe the most important part of banking is the relationship between a banker and customer,” Franko said. “And the best place for a customer to develop that sort of relationship is in a true community bank like Merchants, where it’s clear the Bank puts its customers’ best interests at the forefront of what it does each and every day.”

One 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 $2.5 billion in mortgage loans.

A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Franko has been involved in the community and currently serves as President for the Community Table Board of Directors. Franko and his wife, Sonja, have a son, George, and a daughter, Madeline.

Merchants Bank has 21 locations, including its location in Eau Claire and another Wisconsin location in Onalaska. Minnesota locations include Winona, St. Charles, Caledonia, Spring Grove, Rochester, Rushford, Lanesboro, La Crescent, Cannon Falls, Red Wing, Hampton, and the southern Twin Cities metropolitan suburbs of Apple Valley, Cottage Grove, Hastings, Lakeville and Rosemount. All banks are FDIC members and equal housing lenders. Loans are subject to approval. Twin Cities-based Merchants Bank Equipment Finance is also a division of Merchants Bank, N.A.

Chris Thrune Joins Merchants Bank in Cottage Grove as a Mortgage Lender

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Chris Thrune has joined Merchants Bank in Cottage Grove as a Mortgage Lender and Customer Service Representative, according to Randy Bachman, Branch Manager and Personal Banking Officer for Merchants Bank in Cottage Grove.

“We’re excited to have Chris with us in Cottage Grove. He has a great deal of experience with the Merchants Bank organization,” Bachman said. “He loves working with customers, and it shows in everything he does.”

Before joining the team in Cottage Grove, Thrune spent three years working for Merchants as a Teller and another year as an Electronic Banking Specialist, helping customers with a variety of needs, including Online and Mobile Banking questions. He said he’s looking forward to working with customers in his new roles, especially as a mortgage lender.

“Buying a new home is exciting, and every customer has different needs,” Thrune said. “What I enjoy most about mortgage lending is using my knowledge to satisfy those needs and help make the loan process easy for my customers from start to finish.”

Thrune, who has a Finance degree from Winona State University, encourages mortgage customers to get a head start on others looking for homes in this competitive housing market.

“My top advice for home buyers is to get pre-approved before starting home shopping,” Thrune said. “This will give you a good sense of your budget and put you in a strong position when it’s time to make an offer.”

Merchants Bank has 21 locations, including its location in Cottage Grove and other southern Twin Cities metropolitan suburbs of Apple Valley, Hastings, Lakeville and Rosemount.  Other Minnesota locations include Winona, St. Charles, Caledonia, Spring Grove, Rochester, Rushford, Lanesboro, La Crescent, Cannon Falls, Red Wing and Hampton. Wisconsin locations are in Eau Claire and Onalaska. All banks are FDIC members and equal housing lenders. Loans are subject to approval. Twin Cities-based Merchants Bank Equipment Finance is also a division of Merchants Bank, N.A.

Merchants Financial Group, Inc. Posts Earnings of Nearly $6 million Through the Second Quarter of 2017

GregEvansPresidentCEOMerchants Financial Group, Inc. (MFGI) announced net income of $5,970,031 through the second quarter of 2017, according to MFGI President & CEO Gregory M. Evans.

“Our core business is performing extremely well,” Evans said. “Our year has been one of significant strategic progress, and our earnings have been solid.”

Evans noted that there has been year-over-year growth in both deposits and loans. He said mortgage volume continues to be strong and well ahead of MFGI’s plan through the first six months of 2017.

Net income is slightly behind MFGI’s plan for two quarters and is behind 2016’s pace, when MFGI celebrated record earnings. Earnings were impacted by $900,000 set aside as addition to loan loss reserves in the second quarter. Merchants made a similar adjustment at the end of the first quarter. The money is a cushion against possible future loan stress. Evans said putting the money aside is consistent with MFGI’s conservative principles, and that actual loan charge-off activity is well below industry averages.

“We believe we are well-positioned for continued strong earnings during the second half of the year,”Evans said. “I am optimistic about the remainder of the year and beyond.”

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. 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 Bank Looks to “Swipe Out Hunger” for Area Food Shelves

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Merchants Bank will be donating five cents each time a Merchants Bank credit card or debit card is used between August 1-8, up to a total of $10,000, to area food shelves during “Swipe Out Hunger,”the Bank’s fifth annual Facebook Giveaway.

The “Swipe Out Hunger”giveaway will work like this:

  • Supporters of area food shelves will be able to vote once per day between August 1-8 for their chosen food shelves on the Merchants Bank Facebook page (www.facebook.com/merchantsbank).
  • At the end of the giveaway, the food shelves with the top three vote totals will receive donations of $2,500 for first place, $1,500 for second place and $1,000 for third place. All other food shelves will evenly split the remaining $5,000.

Participating food shelves were nominated by Merchants Bank locations (Bank locations making the nomination are noted in parentheses). A number of locations nominated the same food shelf based on which organization serves the needs of their community. Participating this year are:

  • 360 Communities (Lakeville)
  • Cannon Falls Food Shelf (Cannon Falls)
  • Channel 1 (Rochester)
  • Feed My People (Eau Claire)
  • Friends in Need Food Shelf (Cottage Grove)
  • Hastings Family Service (Hastings)
  • The Hunger Task Force (Onalaska)
  • La Crescent Food Share (La Crescent)
  • The Open Door Pantry (Apple Valley and Rosemount)
  • Randolph Food Shelf (Hampton)
  • SEMCAC (Caledonia, Lanesboro, Rushford, Spring Grove)
  • Hometown Resource Center (St. Charles)
  • Winona Volunteer Services (Winona, Lakeside, Goodview)

Last year, Merchants Bank donated $10,146.67 to local food shelves through Swipe Out Hunger and 5,841 votes were cast. Everyone is invited to vote for your favorite food shelf by visiting the Merchants Bank Facebook page during the campaign (August 1-8).

Merchants Bank has 21 locations, including Minnesota locations in Rushford, Lanesboro, Caledonia, Spring Grove, Winona, St. Charles, Goodview, Rochester, La Crescent, 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. Twin Cities-based Merchants Bank Equipment Finance is also a division of Merchants Bank, N.A.

Design a Simple Wellness Program

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Do you wish your business could encourage healthy habits for your employees? Creating a wellness program might sound like an overwhelming task, but it helps to start small.

Each year, Merchants Bank provides a simple walking program to all employees and we’re sharing our tips to help you start your own.

1. Determine Logistics

There are several pieces you need to have in place before kicking off your walking program. Answer these questions:

  • How long will the program last? Typically, we’ve run our wellness competition for six to eight weeks.
  • What walking goals are realistic? You can set step goals by day or week, depending on how you’d like to run your program. We like to have tiers to encourage employees at every fitness level to have an attainable goal. For example, in our last challenge we had goal options of 8,000; 11,000; 14,000 and 17,000 steps per day, per person.
  • How will results be tracked? It works best if your employees can track their steps and report it to a central place, which for us is the Human Resources department. The HR department then records the data in an Excel spreadsheet for the duration of the program and tallies the total steps to determine program winners.
  • What is my budget? Running a walking program takes staff time, but it also takes dollars. You’ll want to budget for incentives/prizes (ideas below) and determine if requiring a registration fee makes sense to help you offset costs. In our most recent walking program, we had 102 participates and spent about $6 per person on prizes. In addition, we asked participants to pay $5 to register for the program.

2. Make Participating Easy

Once you have the above details in place, you want to make participating as simple as possible for your employees. For example, how can they sign up for the program? At Merchants, we email all staff about the program and provide a Word document that they can fill out and return to our HR department.

You’ll also want to make tracking steps easy and inexpensive. We ask our employees to have a pedometer or step-tracking device or use a step-tracking app and then email their weekly steps to HR. Pedometers are a reimbursable item through our wellness program, so employees who don’t own one can purchase a pedometer for the program and be reimbursed up to a certain dollar amount.

3. Create Incentive

It’s easier to encourage employee participation if you can provide them with an incentive, even if it’s small.

Merchants has always given out prizes for our walking programs, from grand prizes at the end of the competition to smaller weekly prizes. Some examples include gift cards, fitbits or healthy snacks. Plus, each participant also receives a walking program t-shirt, partially covered by our registration fee.

It also helps to have the camaraderie and encouragement of co-workers. Our Human Resources department has found that the walking program is more successful when employees sign up with a partner or team instead of competing as individuals. Typically for group challenges, we have participation from between 25-35% of all employees.

So why is all of this important? Having a wellness program can benefit your business and your employees in many ways, including:

  • Lowering health care costs
  • Build a sense of community and team atmosphere
  • Improve productivity
  • Reduce employee injuries

Ready to get started? For ideas and helpful resources on starting a wellness program for your business, we recommend the following resources.

Please note through these resources you will be linking to another website not owned or operated by Merchants Bank, NA. Merchants Bank, NA is not responsible for the availability or content of this website and does not represent either the linked website or you, should you enter into a transaction. We encourage you to review their privacy and security policies which may differ from Merchants Bank, NA.

 

Source: *http://www.healthfitnessrevolution.com/top-10-benefits-of-a-workplace-wellness-program/