Fraud and Scam Updates – February 2018

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Review our most recent fraud alerts and updates to help keep your personal information secure. Want to be automatically updated about recent scams and fraud? Sign up for our Alerts emails here.

Computer Pop Up Scam

Have you heard of this scam? You are on your computer when a pop-up warns that your computer is compromised. If you don’t act now, your computer will crash. Offering to help, a scammer dials into your computer to try “fix” the issue, meanwhile gleaming your personal information. Sometimes, the scammers require a payment to “fix” the computer. In the end, the scammers have what they wanted all along, the personal information they got off your computer and now your credit card information you used to pay them. Please be on the lookout for this scam to protect your private information.

Stolen Mail

Our customers have reported an increase in stolen mail, including people who use their mailbox for outgoing mail.

We’d like to remind all customers to be cautious when sending or receiving personal information, bank account information or checks through the mail. If you’re expecting something to arrive and it doesn’t, check on it – balance your checkbook to make sure all checks clearing your account are for the amount you issued. If you are sending checks through the mail, consider putting your mail in a United States Postal Service Collection Box or take it to the Post Office.

Sharing Login Credentials

It’s never a good idea to share your login credentials, or any private information, with anyone, even people you know or think you know. This tip is especially important to remember when you’re talking to someone over the phone on a call you did not initiate. Please remember that Merchants Bank will never ask for your personal information unless you have previously initiated a conversation with us about your accounts or an application.

Family Emergency Scam

Merchants has recently seen an increase in imposter scams. Customers have almost fallen for some emergency scams, including being asked by a fraudster posing as a relative to send money for bail. If you’re asked to send money in an emergency situation, verify the true location of your friend or relative before responding – even if the person you’re talking to sounds like someone in your family.

Be a skeptic. If the situation doesn’t sound right, it’s time to do some more investigating. If you have doubts, just call or come in to discuss the situation with us. We’re here to help.

Next Steps If You’ve Experienced Fraud

If you notice fraud on your statement, be sure to contact us within 60 days from the date your statement was issued. In most cases, if the fraud is reported within 60 days we have a better chance of resolving the issue. After 60 days from the statement’s issue date, there is nothing we can do to retrieve the lost funds.

If you think your bank account information has been compromised or you are a victim of identity theft, contact your local Merchants Bank and ask to speak to a Customer Service Representative.

Congratulate New and Promoted Staff

New Staff

BromCourtney Courtney Brom, Teller, Winona

Courtney is originally from Winona and is studying math teaching at Winona State University. She has a second job at Prairie Ranch Kennels and previously worked at Menards as a Head Cashier. In her spare time she likes to hang out with friends and family, read, be outdoors, and in the summers she likes to watch her brother race.

Terri Derouin Terri Derouin, Teller, Rochester – Green Meadows

Terri has held several positions with the Rochester Public Schools and currently works at Century High School as a Budget Secretary. Terri is an avid sports fan, loves movies, music, the outdoors (especially the mountains) and summer road trips.

Amy Gross Amy Gross, Teller, Caledonia

Amy is currently a part-time Health Coach and previously worked at Gundersen Care Center as an Activities Aide.

Chris Kreisel Chris Kreisel, Trust Associate/Benefit Plan Specialist, Winona-Downtown

Chris’s experience includes more than seven years working as a Retirement Educator; he helped 401(k) participants and plan sponsors across the country. He has industry certification as a Certified Mutual Fund Counselor (CMFC) and a Certified Retirement Services Professional (CRSP).

Jessica Norgard Jessica Norgard, Teller, Rushford

Jessica previously worked at S&A Petroleum and JT’s Bar & Grill. She enjoys playing with her son, spending time outside, and cooking.  

Daniel Pohnl Daniel Pohnl, Commercial Banker, Eau Claire

Daniel has been in banking since 2011, working in mortgage loans, as a credit analyst and most recently as a commercial banker, all in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro market. He is an experienced SBA (Small Business Administration) Lender.  He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where he had a double major in Accounting and Finance. He is originally from Rhinelander. Read more about Daniel joining Merchants here.

Arlene Schwerzler Arlene Schwerzler, Mortgage Lender, Red Wing

Arlene is a familiar name and face to the Merchants Bank employees and many customers in Red Wing. As a long-time mortgage lender at Merchants Bank in Winona, she served many customers in Red Wing. Arlene has been in banking for more than 30 years. She started as a Mortgage Lender at Merchants Bank in Winona in 1998 and also spent a short amount of time at Merchants Bank in Rochester. Read more about Arlene’s return to Merchants here.

Lynda Sobotta Lynda Sobotta, Mortgage File Representative, Winona

Lynda is originally from Winona, and has returned with her husband after living in Austin for a while. She spends Friday nights with her granddaughter and has two dogs that keep her company. Lynda previously worked at Winona Health and Riverside Electronics.

Mike Stangl Mike Stangl, Commercial Banker and Mortgage Lender, La Crescent

Mike has been working in the La Crosse market as a mortgage lender since 2012. From 2001 to 2012 he was in the Marshfield, WI, market working in banking in a number of roles, including mortgage, consumer, and commercial lending. Mike is involved in the community, donating his time to a number of organizations, including the Mississippi Valley Conservancy, Coulee Region Humane Society, and the Hunger Task Force. Read more about Mike joining Merchants here.

Erik Stegemann

Erik Stegemann, Credit Analyst, Merchants Bank Equipment Finance

Erik previously worked as a Ag/Commercial Loan Officer at Citizens Bank in Iowa. Erik is a sport enthusiast and avid Gopher fan. He also enjoys anything about the outdoors such as skiing, boating, volleyball and basketball.

Transfers and Promotions

Carol Bell Carol Bell, Credit Card Specialist, Winona-Downtown

Carol has transferred to the Credit Card department as a Credit Card Specialist. She has been with Merchants since 2002 and was previously a Mortgage Underwriter in Winona.

Mollie Brink, Lending Assistant Team Lead, Winona

Mollie has taken on additional responsibilities moving to Lending Assistant Team Lead. She started with Merchants Bank as a Lending Assistant in 2014 and has shown the leadership and initiative to succeed.  Prior to joining Merchants she  worked at Winona National Bank for 5 years as a Teller and Teller Supervisor. She has a degree from Winona State University in Human Resources.

Marcus Krings Marcus Krings, Credit Card Manager, Winona-Downtown

Marcus has been promoted to Credit Card manager. He has been with Merchants since 2012. He was previously an Electronic Banking Specialist and most recently the Credit  Card Specialist in Winona. Meet Marcus here.

From the President’s Desk: Winter 2018

PresidentsFeature-BlogHappy New Year! I want to thank those of you who favored Merchants Bank with your business in 2017. We remain committed to meeting your financial services needs in the year ahead with a high degree of personalized service and attention that we believe sets Merchants apart from other banking organizations.

Over the course of the next few weeks, you will likely read/hear about another record year of earnings performance for Merchants Bank. As a publicly-traded Company which is owned primarily by Winona area families and our employees, we do take great pride in our financial performance and delivering a return on investment to the local owners of Merchants, many of which have placed confidence in our organization for decades.

We also know that our customers are the reasons for our success. We sincerely appreciate the loyalty of all of our customers. They are the reason Merchants continues to grow in providing financial services to an expanding service area throughout southeastern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin.

It’s also important to share with you why I feel so strongly that our continued financial strength is a tremendous advantage to all of our customers and communities. Our performance is the driver of our ability to make meaningful investments back into our business and in our communities. Direct ways our customers and communities benefit from the financial performance include:

  • The safety of our customers’ deposits – stewardship of the deposits we are favored with is the foundation for the trusted relationships we have with our clients and for us goes well beyond the security provided in the form of FDIC insurance.
  • Direct contributions to the economic vitality of this region – the commitment we make to the stewardship of our customers’ deposits include prudent deployment of those dollars in the form of loans that help families and business-owners in our communities. In 2017, we made $389 million of new residential mortgage loans, helping hundreds of families buy new homes. We made $250 million in new business loans, helping business-owners throughout the region expand, add jobs and contribute to economic growth.
  • In 2017, Merchants Bank made $584,000 of direct financial contributions (2.74% of pre-tax earnings, well in excess of our minimum standard of 2%) to organizations in our communities. Priorities of support include education, health/social services and the arts.
  • Investment in technology – while we will always be an organization committed to personalized service, we know we need to continue to up our game in the delivery of digital banking solutions as the needs of our customers evolve. In 2017, we increased our technology spending by more than 33%, with priority emphasis on protecting the information security of our customers’ accounts and enhancing our strategic digital banking roadmap for future solution enhancements
  • Investment in our people – at Merchants, we will continue to staff our branches with local decision-makers and customer-focused people with a passion for taking care of clients. That’s why we continue to add jobs, while many in our industry are making personnel reductions and closing branches.

Everything we accomplish at Merchants is a total team effort. And that starts with the loyalty of our customers. We appreciate our customers’ loyalty and do not take it for granted. And, as we continue to enjoy financial stability and performance success, please know that we will continue to reinvest in significant ways that are good for customers and our communities. 

Hope to See You at these Shows & Events

Events-Blog

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. 

2/9-2/11 Rochester Area Builders Home Show at the Mayo Civic Center

Show Hours

Friday, February 9: 3:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, February 10: 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Sunday, February 11: 11 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Come visit us at our booth to say hello!

2/23-2/25 Chippewa Valley Home and Garden Show at the Eau Claire Indoor Sports Center

Show Hours

Friday, February 23: 1:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, February 24: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, February 25: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Come visit us at our booth to say hello!

3/3-3/4 Winona Better Living Show at Winona Senior High School

Show Hours

Saturday, March 3: 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 4: 11:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Come visit us at our booth to say hello!

3/10 Lakeville Landscape & Home Show/Consumer Showcase at Lakeville North High School

9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Come visit us at our booth to say hello!

4/19 Community Picnic for the Pets

2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Minnesota State College Southeast – Student Commons

Please join us for food and beverages. There will be no fee to attend, but donations will be collected to support the humane society. Come visit us to say hello!

4/20 Community Banking Month Community Appreciation

11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Merchants Bank in Caledonia

Please join us in our lobby for hamburgers and refreshments, we appreciate your friendship over the years!

4/21 Cottage Grove Spring Business Showcase at the Cottage Grove Ice Arena

10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Come visit us at our booth to say hello!

4/27 Community Banking Month Community Appreciation

11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Merchants Bank in Spring Grove

Please join us in our lobby for hamburgers and refreshments, we appreciate your friendship over the years!

4/28 St. Charles Home and Business Expo at St. Charles Elementary School

9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Come visit us at our booth to say hello!

Industry Snapshot: Food Manufacturing & Wholesale

FoodManufacturing-Blog

Get the industry data and financing solutions to make 2018 a success.

In each edition of our Business eNewsletter this year, we’ll be highlighting a different industry to bring you useful data and research. In our January edition, we’re providing a snapshot of food manufacturing and wholesale – an industry we’re proud to serve through both our bank and leasing company.

As a seasonal industry, your food wholesale or manufacturing business may have ended the year on a busy note. But, how optimistic should you feel about 2018?

Here are the latest industry indicators, including data on growth opportunities and potential challenges. Plus, learn how our experienced team of Commercial Banking advisors can help you prepare for another successful year.

2018 Food Manufacturing & Wholesale Forecast

While food manufacturers and wholesalers will face challenges due to the rising cost of fuel and commodity prices, both areas should expect growth in the coming years.

This is no surprise to Shawn Sackman, Merchants Bank Commercial & Ag Lender in Onalaska, “[t]he businesses we serve have always done an outstanding job of meeting customer demands, while still being innovative in a tight industry.”

Predicted Growth between 2017 and 2021

Growth for your industry depends on both food consumption and population growth.

So, what do the numbers say? According to data from Hoovers and First Research:

  • Revenue for US food manufacturers is forecast to grow at an annual compounded rate of 4%, based on changes in physical volume and unit prices.
Food manufacturing growth graph

From Hoover’s/D&B subsidiary First Research. Revenue (in current dollars) for US food manufacturers is forecast to grow at an annual compounded rate of 4% between 2017 and 2021, based on changes in physical volume and unit prices. Data Published: September 2017.

  • Domestic demand for food, an indicator for food wholesalers, is forecast to grow at an annual compounded rate of 3%.
Food wholesalers growth trend graph

From Hoover’s/D&B subsidiary First Research. Domestic demand for food, an indicator for wholesalers, is forecast to grow at an annual compounded rate of 3% between 2017 and 2021. Data Published: September 2017.

Key Industry Indicators

In addition, these indicators provide a more comprehensive picture. This data can help you determine areas of potential progress or risk for the coming months and years depending on your specific products.

Food Demand:

  • US retail sales for food and beverage stores increased 2.2% in the first ten months of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016.
  • Total US wholesale sales of nondurable goods rose 4.7% in September 2017 compared to the same period in 2016.
  • US retail sales for food services and drinking places increased 2.8% in the first ten months of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016.

Food Distribution: US tourism spending for food services and drinking places increased 3.2% in the second quarter of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016.

Food Manufacturing Demand: US nondurable goods manufacturers’ shipments of food products rose 5.3% year-to-date in September 2017 compared to the same period in 2016.

Product Values: The consumer price index for food rose 1.3% in October 2017 compared to the same month in 2016.

Industry Competition

Several large companies, including Sysco, McLane, Nestle S.A. and COFCO, dominate the industry when it comes to sales and output. But, small businesses still make up 68% of food manufacturing* in the United States.

As a small sausage producer in La Crosse, WI, Bakalars Sausage Company has seen many changes to the industry in their 53 years of business. “Over the past several years, the industry has gotten tighter with smaller producers getting out of the business,” said Mike Bakalars, Owner. “I’m proud to say that we’re one of the survivors and through a lot of hard work our business has doubled over the past 15 years.”

So how can you differentiate yourself from other businesses in the industry? According to Hoover’s research, here are your best opportunities to stand out in a competitive market:

Product Mix – Food manufacturers typically have one or two extremely successful products or brands, in addition to a mix of specialty items. Identify which of your products constantly produces income and which products may become less popular as consumer tastes change.

For Bakalars, this means a mix of 35 different products overall, including the Schweigert sausage brand and specialty products. “We were fortunate to acquire Schweigerts several years ago. As the official hot dog of the Minnesota Twins and Vikings, it’s been a very stable product line for us while we continue to produce other specialty sausage with smaller demand,” said Mike.

Competing with Chain Distribution – Larger companies, like Wal-Mart, have benefitted from owning the entire process from purchasing to operations. Small wholesalers should consider the cost and time-saving benefits of controlling the entire production process. For example, Bakalars produces, packages and ships their entire product line from their headquarters in La Crosse, WI.

How Merchants Bank Can Help

As a community bank, we work hard to help local businesses – like Bakalars – succeed with the expertise and financial resources you need. We believe that when businesses in our communities thrive, everyone benefits. Merchants is proud to serve many in the food industry from producers to manufacturers to wholesalers, across our footprint.

“We’ve had a longtime partnership with Merchants – since 2003. Their bankers understand how our industry works, and so they understand the banking services we need to be successful,” said Mike Bakalars. “As an industry, we can be seasonal, so they have helped us with understanding and meeting our cash flow needs.”

In addition traditional financing in the form of business loans and lines of credit, we also offer services in the areas of cash management and security.

“In order to make the most of your accounts receivable and payable, we help your company understand how various types of transactions function – which is especially important in the food industry. Each transaction type is unique,” said Becky Herrmann, Cash Management Specialist at Merchants Bank in Onalaska. “Another key is knowing how to protect your funds with the best monitoring and management tools. Our Cash Management team is here to advise you on the solutions that fit your business and answer your questions.”

To learn more about how our Commercial Bankers and Cash Management Specialists can work with your business, contact your local expert.

Additional Resources:

 

*https://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/food-markets-prices/processing-marketing/manufacturing.aspx

** 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.