Meet Chris Thrune, Electronic Banking Specialist at Merchants


Chris and his girlfriend, Larissa

How long have you been with Merchants?

Chris: I originally started at Merchants as a part-time teller with Merchants Bank in 2013. In May of 2016, I switched to the Electronic Banking department!

What is your top electronic banking tip?

Chris: My banking tip would be to not have your computer save passwords and if you do choose to store them somewhere, make sure it is a safe location!

What’s one thing your mom or dad taught you about money?

Chris: My parents taught me to start saving for the future early, which a few years later I now completely understand.

If you could ring the bell at the New York Stock Exchange with anyone, who would it be and why?

Chris: I would ring the bell with my younger brother Nick, as we are both studying finance. I would like to stay in banking but, he has aspirations to one day be a trader on Wall Street.

Besides money, what’s your favorite green thing?

Chris: As cliché as it is, the one and only Merchants Bank would be one of my favorite things that is the color green. Merchants has been a great company to work for, I admire the personalized service that Merchants Bank strives to provide to our customers. Anybody who rides in a car with me hates it, because we cannot drive passed a Merchants branch without me pointing it out!

To meet our entire Electronic Banking team, visit our website.

Debit Card Customers have been Reissued EMV Chip Cards


All current Merchants Bank MasterCard Debit Cards have been reissued as EMV Chip MasterCard Debit Cards. Cards were mailed the last week of October and first week of November. You are encouraged to activate and use your new card(s) by the end of November. All existing (non-chip debit cards) will be deactivated as of December 1.

Why the change to chip technology? With this change, you’ll be able to take advantage of the security features of EMV chip technology, which can help prevent fraudulent transactions.

What is an EMV chip card?
The term “EMV” stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa – the original developers of chip cards. These cards increase the security of in-person transactions by generating a one-time use code that can only be read by a register enabled to read chip cards. The code is created from the small chip on the front of your card and is hard to counterfeit, which prevents fraud.

Is paying with a chip card different from paying with my other cards?
Yes, making a payment with a chip card is slightly different than the card transactions you are used to. Instead of swiping your card at the register, you’ll simply follow these instructions:

Step 1: Insert the chip end of your card into the terminal with the chip facing up.


Step 2: Keep the card in the terminal during the transaction and follow the prompts on the screen.


Step 3: Take your card when prompted. It’s that easy!


Do all stores accept EMV chip cards?
Not yet, but the trend is growing. You can still make a purchase at a store that does not yet accept chip cards by simply swiping to pay.

What happens if I swipe my EMV chip card instead of inserting it into the register?
The terminal will display a message asking you to insert your card instead.

If I don’t have a Merchants Bank Debit Card, how can I request a debit card with chip technology?
Just send us an email to let us know you’re interested. If you’d like to learn more about EMV chip technology, contact the Customer Service Representative at your local Merchants Bank.

If you are a business and would like to accept EMV cards, contact our Credit Card department.

Chicken Tortilla Soup From The Merchants Family Cookbook



  • 4 (6-inch) soft corn tortillas
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic salt
  • 1/4 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 cans (14.5 oz.) chicken broth
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 can (4 oz.) chopped green chilies, undrained
  • 4 tsp. fresh cilantro, snipped (use dried if you can’t find fresh)
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 4 thick slices fresh lime (optional)
  • 1 small container light sour cream



Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut tortillas into 1/2-inch strips. Bake 7-8 minutes or until crisp. Cut chicken into 1/2-inch pieces. Cook chicken with a little vegetable oil (spray or liquid) for 3 minutes. Add onion, garlic, chili powder, and cumin. Cook and stir 2 minutes. Stir in broth, tomatoes and chilies. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Snip cilantro. Place tortilla strips into bowls and top with soup, cheese, cilantro, and a dollop of sour cream. Cut a 1/4-inch lime slice and place on bowl’s edge. Serve. Can be served with cornbread sticks or bread sticks.


Merchants Family Cookbooks are available at all Merchants Bank locations for $15. Proceeds benefit local food shelf programs.

Merchants Financial Group, Inc. Posts Earnings of $9,774,109 Through the First Three Quarters of 2016; Onalaska Location Makes Significant Contributions

mfgiq3resultsMerchants Financial Group, Inc. (MFGI) announced net income of $9,774,109 through the first three quarters of 2016, according to MFGI President & CEO Rodney R. Nelson. Nelson pointed out that the Merchants Bank location in Onalaska contributed significantly to the performance.

Nelson said the Onalaska location ended with $1,777,844 in net income for the first nine months of the year, which was 62.4% over budget for the location. Nelson noted that total loans for Onalaska were up 36% and Commercial Real Estate balances increased 49% compared to a year ago.

“I think we have the best banking team in the La Crosse area,”said Merchants Bank — Onalaska President Steve Christiansen. “We spend time building relationships, and we always strive to treat people well. We have been pleased to help businesses who have needed our assistance, and we look forward to helping others who may not have experienced the Merchants Bank difference or who may not know of our capabilities.”

Nelson shared that the MFGI Board of Directors voted to reward its shareholders with a one cent per share dividend increase from 55 cents to 56 cents. Earlier this year, the MFGI Board increased the dividend from 53 cents to 55 cents per share. MFGI stock is currently trading at or near record highs, $48.75 per share as of earlier this week.

Nelson recently announced he will be retiring as of January 31, 2017. Winona Market President and Chief Banking Officer for the organization Greg Evans has been named as his successor.

“We are in a good position. I know that under Greg’s leadership and with the support of our teammates, we will continue to grow and be successful,”Nelson said.

MFGI owns 21 Merchants Bank locations, including Wisconsin locations in Onalaska and Eau Claire. Minnesota locations include 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. All banks are FDIC members and equal housing lenders.  Subject to credit approval. 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 450 employees and its shareholders, mostly individuals and families from southeastern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin.

Meet Rebekah Hicks, Electronic Banking Specalist


Rebekah and her daughter, Amelia

Tell us about your banking career.

Rebekah: I started my banking career in 2006 in a large corporate bank. Since then I have a worked in a variety of financial institutions. I chose Merchants as my career home because the size is small enough to provide our customers with hometown service, yet large enough to be competitive in our region.

What is your top electronic banking tip?

Rebekah: Whether it is a business or a personal banking product, decide what is important to you as a consumer and find a bank that falls in line with those values. Merchants Bank is the bank that service built. Meaning we are driven by your fellow community members who work and play alongside you. We are your neighbors working for you to better our community.

What’s one thing your mom or dad taught you about money?

Rebekah: A lesson of financial responsibility that I remember my brother and I learning from our parents was budgeting. They presented this visually by having three separate jars for each of us. One was for spending, one was for saving and the other was for giving.

We set a dollar amount as a goal one summer to work towards with our savings, at the end of the summer we were rewarded for meeting our savings goal with a gaming console. The reward associated with our savings is a life lesson we both carried with us into adulthood and hope to share with our children.

If you could ring the bell at the New York Stock Exchange, who would you want to ring it with?

Rebekah: Getting to ring the bell at the New York Stock Exchange would be a unique and exciting experience I would like to share with my daughter. It sounds like it would make a great stop on a memorable family vacation also allowing for us to get to see all the other sites the city has to offer.

Besides money, what’s your favorite green thing?

Rebekah: Besides money, my favorite green thing is the next best thing to money – it’s my Merchants Bank Debit Card. I really enjoy the convenience of not having to carry cash for all my purchases.

To meet our entire Electronic Banking team, visit our website.

Trust Department News: Announcing New Staff and Retirements

By Greg Evans, President/Chief Banking Officer

I am pleased to share some important news regarding the staffing in our Trust Department.

Retirement Announcements

After more than 20 years of dedication and providing excellent service, long-time trust officers Sara Brandon and Terry Hawkings, have announced their retirements. We greatly appreciate their contributions to Merchants, our clients and our community.


Monika Lovewell

Terry’s retirement was celebrated with our Trust team the week of October 10 and her last day with Merchants was Friday, October 14. Sara will continue in her current Trust Officer role until year-end. All of us at Merchants wish them well during this exciting transition and especially thank them for their dedicated years of service to their clients.

Introducing New Trust Experts

In preparing for these retirements, we have been recruiting new talent and expertise for our Trust Department. To that end, I am excited to introduce Monika Lovewell, our new Trust Department Manager, and Martin Oines, our new Trust Officer. Monika is an estate planning attorney, a Certified Trust and Financial Advisor, and former Senior Trust Officer with another firm.


Martin Oines

Martin is a Certified Trust and Financial Advisor, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERpractitioner, and also has experience as a Senior Trust Administrator. Both bring considerable expertise and experience in trust administration and financial planning to Merchants. I couldn’t be more pleased about the experience and expertise we have been able to attract to our Trust team to continue serving you.

Monika and Martin look forward to continuing to provide the specialized trust services and expertise you have come to expect from our Trust team.

Greg Evans
Chief Banking Officer/President

Congratulate New and Promoted Staff

New Staff

austaderickaEricka Austad, Teller, Rushford
Ericka also currently works at Rosemount Apiaries as a Beekeeper and at Burdey’s Cafe as a Server. She is a former middle school teacher and has a five-year-old son, Lars. She enjoys kayaking, biking and hiking in the bluffs.



cayatedTed Caya, Teller, Eau Claire
Ted also works at H&R Block as a Tax Professional. He is a junior at UW-Eau Claire pursing his Business Administration degree.





Bailey Ekberg, Teller, Winona
Bailey previously worked at Green Mill as a Hostess. She is a sophomore at Winona State University, studying Accounting and Management Information Systems. Bailey’s favorite season is fall because the weather is so perfect. She enjoys reading and hanging out with her roommates.



faklermeghanMeghan Fakler, Teller, Winona-Goodview
Meghan previously worked at Affinity Plus as a Member Advisor and at HyVee as an Assistant Manager. She and her fiancé, Drew will be getting married in July 2017. Meghan has been a competitive bowler for 20 years.




feldmeierjeanneJeanne Feldmeier, Part-Time Teller, Rushford
Jeanne previously worked in banking for many years at Winona National Bank and Associated Bank and also worked as an Accounting Specialist at Semcac. She recently retired, but wanted to come back to banking part-time. Jeanne is married and has three grown children and one grandchild.



goetzingerleighLeigh Goetzinger, Customer Service Representative, Caledonia
Leigh previously worked at Merchants for two years as a Teller. She has two daughters and two sons. She also has a granddaughter and grandson that she absolutely loves spending all of her spare time with.




oinesmartinMartin Oines, Trust Officer, Winona-Downtown
Martin brings more than 20 years of experience in investment management and trust administration to his position, most recently as Senior Trust Administrator with Wells Fargo in Minneapolis. He is a Certified Trust and Financial Advisor and a Certified Financial Planner practitioner.



russellkelseyKelsey Russell, Lead Teller, Hastings
Kelsey previously worked at Coborn’s Liquor as the Assistant Liquor Store Manager. Kelsey and her husband have one daughter. Kelsey enjoys being outdoors walking, playing tennis and skiing. She also has a pet benny named Bun-Bun.



whalenkallyKalley Whalen, Electronic Banking Specialist, Winona-Downtown
Kally previously worked at Green Mill Restaurant as the General Manager. She is recently married and her and her husband just purchased their first home together. Kally enjoys camping and spending time with her family.


Promotions and Transfers

brinkkarleyKarley Brink, Retail Lending Assistant, Winona-Downtown
Karley has been with Merchants since 2011. She was previously an Electronic Banking Representative, Teller and most recently a Loan Servicing Representative in Winona.