Rick Jaacks Joins Merchants Bank as Vice President/Commercial Banker

Rick Jaacks, Commercial Banker

Rick Jaacks has joined Merchants Bank as a Vice President/Commercial Banker, according to Randy Domeyer, Senior Vice President and Commercial Banking Manager for Merchants in Winona.

“Rick’s extensive background in commercial lending will complement our already talented team,” said Domeyer. “He truly understands the personalized approach to banking that makes a difference for our business customers.”

With a banking career that spans more than 30 years, Rick brings strong experience in commercial and ag lending, treasury management and credit quality management to Merchants. He was previously a Business Development Officer for Community Bank and Trust in Iowa and has spent most of his career working for community banks. Rick is also a Small Business Administration (SBA) lending expert.

“Being a community banker is a privilege and I’m looking forward to continuing to embrace the community banking philosophy that’s been so important to Merchants Bank’s success. It’s about getting to know my customers’ individual needs and adding value as their financial partner,” said Rick.

In Iowa, Rick was actively involved with Waterloo Main Street, multiple commissions for the City of Waterloo, served as a Board Member for the North East Iowa Food Bank and looks forward to becoming involved in the Winona community as well. He and his wife, Heather, will be relocating to Winona.

The Merchants Bank Commercial Lending team is comprised of more than 40 local experts, available throughout our regional footprint. In addition to traditional commercial loans, Merchants bankers specialize in ag banking, SBA loans, floor plan financing and equipment lease financing. As a regional banking leader, Merchants can assist businesses of any size with their business financing needs, including Treasury Management and deposit services.

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 $1.76 billion in assets and was founded in 1875. Loans are subject to approval.

Dana Dobrunz Promoted To Personal Banking Manager

Dana Dobrunz

Dana Dobrunz has been promoted to Personal Banking Manager at Merchants Bank in La Crescent, according to Steve Christiansen, Market President for Merchants Bank in La Crescent and Onalaska.

“Dana’s passion for taking care of customers has provided her with many opportunities for growth during her career with Merchants,” said Christiansen. “In her new role, she’ll be able to share her customer service approach as a supervisor and mentor to other staff.”

Dana has been in banking for more than 25 years and began her career as a Teller with Merchants Bank in La Crescent in 1993. Since then she has been promoted to Customer Service Representative in 1998, Personal Banker in 2005 and most recently became a Consumer Lender in 2015.

“Merchants has given me so many opportunities to grow in my career and I look forward to continuing to share what I’ve learned to grow the strong team we have here in La Crescent,” said Dobrunz.

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 $1.76 billion in assets and was founded in 1875.

Merchants Financial Group, Inc Announces Earnings of $8.93 Million through Second Quarter of 2019

Greg Evans, President & CEO

Merchants Financial Group, Inc. (MFGI) announced robust business growth and year-to-date net income of $8.93 million through the end of the second quarter, according to MFGI President & CEO Gregory M. Evans.

Year-over-year loan growth for the Winona-based Company was $111.3 million (8.2%) and deposit growth was a healthy $95.8 million (6.9%)

“As usual our strong performance during the first half of the year has resulted from a total team effort, with meaningful contributions coming from business growth throughout our footprint,” said Evans. “I’m tremendously proud of our entire banking team. We continue to experience strong organic growth because of bankers who stand out as difference makers in a very competitive environment.”

Net income is ahead of MFGI’s plan for 2019 by $1.1 million, but just slightly behind last year’s earnings pace by $206,944. One impact on year-over-year earnings was a necessary contribution of an additional $543,000 in loan loss reserve put aside to cushion against possible future loan stress. Contributing to the overall positive performance, three of the Bank’s four regions and Secondary Market Mortgage operation exceeded their respective income forecasts through the first six months of 2019.

“It’s our privilege to help so many individuals and families achieve their dream of home ownership,” noted Evans. “Many customers have also benefitted from the current low rate environment and reduced their mortgage payments by refinancing.”

The ownership of Merchants Financial Group is made up of its more than 440 employees and its shareholders, mostly individuals and families from southeastern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin.

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 $1.76 billion in assets and was founded in 1875. Loans are subject to credit approval.

Merchants Bank Receives Regulatory Approval to Purchase First National Bank of Northfield

Greg Evans, President & CEO

The Federal Reserve Bank has approved Merchants Financial Group’s application to purchase the First National Bank of Northfield, according to Merchants President & Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Gregory M. Evans.

“We’ve been given a tremendous opportunity to continue to build upon First National Bank’s respected reputation in Northfield and the surrounding area, and demonstrate the same philosophy with regard to community banking and personalized service,” said Evans. “We have absolute confidence this partnership will be beneficial to all of our stakeholders, including the loyal First National customers we will have the privilege to serve in Northfield.”

The sale includes about $196 million in deposits, $165 million in loan relationships, $222 million in total assets, outstanding stock for First National Bank of Northfield, as well as the physical locations of the banks in Northfield and loan production office in Bloomington. The sale is scheduled to be completed in late August. Terms of the sale have not been 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.

Read the first announcement about the First National Bank of Northfield acquisition. 

It’s a Journey: Leadership Insight from Our Regional Presidents


The three Regional Presidents on our Executive Leadership Team, Dan Massett, Andrew Guzzo and Lawrence “Skip” Stovern, have nearly 100 combined years of experience in business, banking and leadership. Dan guides the Central Region, Andrew leads our Winona and Southern Regions, and Skip takes care of the Twin Cities Region.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Dan: When I was a little kid I wanted to play in the NBA. I loved basketball, I loved the team aspect and camaraderie of it. Once I got to college, I realized that probably wasn’t realistic, and neither was my other dream of being a general manager of a basketball team.

But I liked putting pieces of a larger entity together, I liked motivating people. After touring a community bank in college I realized that banking and business required a lot of the things I liked: working with a variety of people to create teams and put pieces together to achieve a greater goal.

Andrew: I always gravitated toward business. When I was young I’d shovel snow, deliver papers, mow lawns. I’ve always been passionate and curious about business.

Skip: I wanted to be a kid! I liked being a kid. But actually, I wanted to be a hockey player. I looked up to the players and the coaches that worked together as a cohesive unit. I loved the environment: I could see the passion everyone had for the game and it motivated us all to work hard.

Tell us about your time before Merchants.

Dan: I’ve been with Merchants since 2014, but I have almost 30 years of business banking experience, which include years as a community bank president before I became the President of the Central Region for Merchants.

Andrew: I started at Merchants in 2017, but before that, I had been in the banking industry for 11 years. Prior to my time in banking, I spent 15 years in sales management with US Foods.

Skip: I started at Merchants in December of 2006. Before that, I worked in the banking industry in Duluth, Minnesota for almost 30 years where I held a variety of positions. While I was a commercial banker I worked with businesses of all shapes and sizes.

Do you have a favorite quote?

Dan: I have a couple:

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” – John F. Kennedy

“Only those who dare to fail greatly are those that will achieve greatly.” – Robert Kennedy

At the executive level, we make decisions that have the potential to fail. But we need to be comfortable making decisions that will help us continue to grow and get to the next level.

Andrew: “Overachievers hate mediocre people, and mediocre people hate overachievers.”  –  Nick Saban

I do believe in having a balanced approach to perfection: don’t settle, we can always improve, but it’s also necessary to take a moment to celebrate the successes.

Skip: “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” – John Wooden

For me, preparation is one of my strengths and one of the aspects I focus on in my leadership style.

What does “leadership” mean to you?

Dan: A leader is someone who has patience, listens, is kind and humble, motivates their team to work hard toward a common goal and puts their needs before his or her own.

I’ve found that one of the most important things a leader does is listen. Truly listen and understand your employees, your customers. That empathy is what builds trust, and trust is one of the most important things in any relationship.

Andrew: Leadership is complex, it’s more advanced than being a manager. It’s someone who is fair, encouraging and supportive of their team. It’s someone that others gravitate toward.

The true mark of a strong leader is someone who maintains these qualities even when times are tough. It’s easy to be at the top of your game when everything is smooth-sailing, but when it’s time to navigate rough waters, a leader will remain calm, kind and make fair, educated decisions.

Skip: There are many different styles of leadership, and no one could ever know everything about leadership.

To be a leader, find out what your strengths are and how they help others, play to those, and never stop learning and evolving.


Our commitment to community banking starts with our Executive Leadership Team. The Team pursues continued company success by focusing on our foundation of building community through banking and our Merchants Bank mission and core values . Our Executive Team, which includes our Regional Presidents, works with our Market Presidents, Managers and all branch staff every day to ensure our customers come first.

Watch our video series to get to know our Executive Team.

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

Ian Bentley Ian Bentley, Teller, Rosemount
Kathryn Connolly Kathryn Connolly, Mortgage Closing Specialist, Winona
Beth Ede Beth Ede, Chief Human Resource Officer, Winona
Amelia Hernandez Amelia Hernandez, Electronic Banking Specialist, Winona
Heidi Hoover Heidi Hoover, Teller, Lakeville
Karin Jones Karin Jones, Teller, Spring Grove
Taylor Kessler Taylor Kessler, Teller, Winona
Tyler Kramer Tyler Kramer, Credit Analyst, Winona
Samantha Millard Samantha Millard, Teller, Winona
ParmaGadyIzaac Izaac Parma-Gady, Electronic Banking Specialist, Winona
Shelby Wild Shelby Wild, Teller, Caledonia

Transfers and Promotions

Ericka Austad Ericka Austad, Credit Administration Representative, Winona
Helen Carlson Helen Carlson, Teller, Apple Valley
Alyssa Frascht Alyssa Frascht, Personal Banker, Cottage Grove
Shelby Hilke Shelby Hilke, Electronic Banking Specialist, Winona
HornbergEryn Eryn Hornberg, Lead Teller, Goodview
Chris Livingston Chris Livingston, Benefit Plan & Trust Specialist, Winona
Ellen Morehouse Ellen Morehouse, Credit Support Manager, Winona

Securing Your Identity in the Online Age


By Rodney Nelsestuen, Chief Information Officer

We all know the threats to online security are constantly changing. The challenges of being an active online and social media user while protecting our identity highlight the important role we all have in keeping our business and personal finances safe.

So, what are some of the current strategies used by hackers and what should we do about them?

Today’s online thief is patient and persistent. Thieves are taking their time in collecting data about us from many sources. Even the most mundane aspects of our lives may be important when added to other data taken from our personal lives, from social media (both our posts and those of friends and family,) and from our workplace. Eventually, all this information is applied in a manner that mimics our personality and behaviors in a convincing way.

How is this possible?

Once a “bad actor,” an online thief or fraudster, has some of your information and your online lifestyle, getting more becomes easy as automated intelligence (AI) serves up a large plate of your preferences, enabling the thief to fully take your place – at least in a virtual sense.

Thus, it’s entirely possible we have a virtual clone navigating the internet, posing as us, and preparing to wreak havoc on our lives by, essentially, taking it for their own.

So, how do we minimize the risk of this happening to us?

Steps to Minimize Risk

Drop out of social media

There are people who have already done this. But dropping out is probably not realistic for most of us. We rely on social media to keep up with friends and family, share joy, sorrow, important information, and we generally find social media a good force in our lives.

Limit what we share on social media

It could be worth our time to more closely manage what is posted and left on social media. Exposing too much about ourselves just makes it easier for thieves to enrich the already valuable data sources available to them.

Talk with family and friends about what you will and will not share on social media and encourage them to do the same. For some of us, posting is done almost willy-nilly, without thought and often reveals deep details that may later be used to compromise our financial or personal lives. Maybe it’s time to pick up the phone to discuss certain aspects of our lives instead of posting them.

Choose our connections in a more deliberate manner

It may be best to limit the number of friends we have online. Most of us have connections that may not be critical to a good social media experience but were set up out of curiosity or recommendations from friends. Examine the controls available on the social media site and narrow what others can see, keeping those closest to you fully engaged, but limiting others.

But Nothing is Fool-Proof. What’s the Next Step?

Because there’s no fool-proof methodology to protecting our identity or our money, we might leverage the tools provided by our most trusted businesses – including banks. Spending the time to fully understand the options and controls that we can employ will allow us to be active participants in managing online threats and help us move from a purely defensive posture to playing offense against the bad guys.

How can we do this?

Actively manage credit and debit cards through apps

Today most of these products have a number of controls that we can actively implement. These include:

  • Turning our credit or debit cards on and off when suspicious activity takes place
  • Setting alerts to notify us via text messages of certain types of transactions or amounts
  • Establishing an out-of-band authentication process when accessing any private financial site to verify your identity through two sources, like your password and a code texted to your phone

These three options will keep us informed on what’s happening to our financial accounts and provide additional assurance that we are, in fact, interacting with our bank and not a fake site.

We have apps for Merchants Bank Debit and Credit Cards that allow you to control your security preferences and set up alerts for when the cards are used.

Have security systems on your computer

It’s fundamental, and a best practice, to have strong antivirus systems on all of our computers. Most of us have these types of subscriptions given they were bundled with the purchase the last time we bought a computer. Make sure, however, that the software also has:

  • anti-malware
  • anti-spyware
  • anti-adware
  • anti-phishing capabilities that can be deployed (or not) at will.

There are additional options we might employ: we can download software that provides an additional layer of security on the computer itself. These tools may harden our computer, keyboard, or mouse against exploitation by hackers. Most of these technologies do not interfere with online speed or performance.

The Solution: Marry Technology and Cautious Online Practices

No technology alone can completely protect us from financial loss or ID theft. Technology needs to be coupled with smart interactions when online. Combining conservative practices, knowing who we are interacting with, using the technologies available through banks and on our own devices bring a holistic approach to securing our online selves and reducing the risks associated with today’s virtual world.