4 Fall Home Tune Ups to Review Now


Have you been putting off a home repair or remodel project? This Fall might be the right time to take it on, and potentially save yourself time and money on expensive repairs next Spring.

So where should you start? Here are four areas to review before winter hits.

1. Window Replacement
Average Cost – $4,759*
New windows can have a big impact on your utility bill, especially if you make the investment in glass with multiple panes. If you notice drafts, condensation or frost on your windows it may be time to upgrade.

2. Roof Repairs
Average Cost – $671*
Maintaining the quality of your roof is critical to keep your home protected and dry. Winter weather especially can aggravate small leaks and other problems, so take the time to assess your roof now.

In particular, you should pay attention to:

  • Blown off or missing shingles
  • Bad or leaking flashing around pipes, chimneys, skylights or the gutters running down the angles of your roof
  • Locations of possible ice dams
  • Water build up around low slopes or inadequate pitches

Hiring a professional to help review and fix these problems can save you from future headaches and expenses.

3. Furnace Tune Up or Replacement
Average Cost – $268 to repair, $3,942 to install*
Don’t let your comfortable, cozy home be interrupted by a broken (or worse, dead) furnace. Part of keeping your furnace in tiptop shape includes occasional maintenance from a professional, which is routinely done before the temperatures drop.

If your furnace is 10-15 years old – the average age of a furnace – it may be a better financial investment to replace it. Just like upgrading your windows, a new high-efficiency furnace can also save you money on your utility bill.

4. Exterior Paint
Average Cost – $2,594*
While a fresh coat of paint is easy on the eyes, it can also help prolong the life of any outdoor surface that will be covered in snow. Help protect your siding, trim, deck and stairs with new exterior paint and sealant.

At Merchants Bank, our Home Equity Line of Credit can help qualified applicants pay for fall home improvements or repairs. If you have equity in your home, now is the time to take advantage of our great introductory rate of as low as 2.9% APR for the first six months and 4.00% APR after that.**

Contact your local Merchants Bank Personal Banker to get started, or apply online now.


**Subject to credit approval. As of September 1, 2016, the Annual Percentage Rate on a home equity line of credit with an 80% or less loan-to-value and a credit score greater than or equal to 700 was 4.00%. This special offer has fixed-rate pricing as low as 2.9% APR for the first six months, based on relationship reward discounts. Following that six-month period, the rate will become variable, subject to change, based on U.S. Bank, N.A., prime rate plus a margin that is determined based on the loan-to-value in your home and your credit score at the time of application. Current rates vary from 4.00% to 6.00% APR. Maximum possible APR is 18%. Minimum possible APR is 4.00%. An origination fee may apply, in addition, you are responsible for certain fees to third parties, such as appraisers, credit reporting firms and government agencies, which are generally from $100–$1,000. Following the first year, there will be an annual fee of $25. Offer available on new home equity lines of $10,000 or more only or on existing lines of credit with an increase of at least $10,000. Consult your tax advisor regarding the deductibility of interest expense. Property insurance will be required. Limited time offer.

Tacos in a Bag from the Merchants Family Cookbook



  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 package taco seasoning mix
  • 1/2 lb. shredded mild cheddar cheese
  • onions, chopped
  • tomatoes, chopped
  • lettuce, shredded
  • sour cream
  • avocado dip (optional)
  • taco sauce
  • 8-10 individual bags of chips — Fritos or Doritos work well!



Brown ground beef and drain off excess fat. Add taco seasoning mix and prepare according to directions on package. Crush chips in the bag and cut off the top of the bag. Add 1-2 Tablespoons of ground beef mixture, all or any combination of the “toppings” and stir. Top with sour cream and taco sauce. Great for camping!

Monika Lovewell to Lead Merchants Bank Trust Department


Monika Lovewell, Trust Department Manager/SVP

Monika Lovewell has joined Merchants Bank as a Senior Vice President and will lead Merchants Bank’s Trust Department, according to Greg Evans, President and Chief Banking Officer.

“Monika brings a great deal of integrity and enthusiasm to this position,” Evans said. “I know people will enjoy meeting her, building a relationship with her, and they will find value in the guidance she will provide them.”

Lovewell has considerable experience in the trust field, including nearly 20 years in her own trust and estate planning law firm in Green Bay and northern Wisconsin. She was also a Vice President and Senior Trust Officer for Wells Fargo in California and taught legal studies and estate planning courses for colleges in Wisconsin and New York. Lovewell earned her law degree from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and has an undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkeley. She is also a Certified Trust and Financial Advisor.

The Merchants Bank Trust Department helps individuals and families establish comprehensive wealth plans that identify their needs, goals and resources for retirement. Trust services may include portfolio management and estate planning, as well as acting as an agent under power of attorney or as personal representative for estates.

“I’ve spent most of my career helping people attain their goals and avoid unintended consequences from poor estate planning. It’s a valuable service to them and meaningful work for me,” Lovewell said. “I look forward to helping more individuals and families prepare well for their futures.”

Merchants Bank has 21 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. Twin Cities-based Merchants Bank Equipment Finance, a division of Merchants Bank, N.A.

Microwave Breakfast Cookie in a Mug

  • ½ medium banana
  • 1 ½ tablespoons peanut butter
  • ½ tablespoon honey (or agave)
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 4 tablespoons oats (rolled or quick oats)
  • 1 tablespoon raisins (seeds or nuts)
  1. In a large microwavable mug mash the banana well with a fork.
  2. Stir in the peanut butter, milk, and honey and mix well together.
  3. Add in the oats and raisins and stir until combined.
  4. Microwave for 45 seconds – 1 minute or until firm to the touch on top. (Cook time is based on my 1200 watt microwave so your timing may vary)
  5. Enjoy warm!

Dawn Stenberg Becomes Mortgage Lender at Merchants Bank


Dawn Stenberg, Mortgage Lender

Dawn Stenberg has started as a mortgage lender at Merchants Bank, according to Sue Hovell, Director of Retail Banking Performance.

“We are excited to have Dawn as part of our team of lenders. She is well known and well respected in our market and fully understands the process that makes Merchants Bank stand out to all of its customers,”Hovell said. “We are looking forward to what she will bring to everyone she serves.”

Stenberg has worked as a mortgage lender previously, both with Wells Fargo in the Winona market, and the John O Melby Bank in Whitehall, WI. She has more than eight years of mortgage experience and more than 14 years of banking experience. Stenberg has been with the Merchants Bank organization since 2012, where she has worked both as a mortgage underwriter and a mortgage coordinator. She said that experience will be especially helpful in her new position.

“Understanding the industry guidelines and processes will be a benefit to customers in that I will be able to guide them so they get the mortgage product that best fits their needs. My goal is to make the experience as seamless as possible for customers,” Stenberg said. “There are a number of reasons Merchants Bank is the market leader, and I look forward to sharing those with customers.”

Learn more about mortgage loans at Merchants Bank by visiting our website.

Bahama Mama from the Merchants Family Cookbook



  • 1 cup light rum
  • 4 cups lemon lime soda
  • 1 (46 oz.) can Hawaiian Tropical Punch
  • 1 (12 oz.) can frozen pink lemonade concentrate, thawed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar



Combine rum, soda, punch, lemonade and sugar; mix well. Cover and freeze for 12 hours. Stir and freeze for 12 hours longer. Stir and serve. Grab a tall glass and pour; garnish with fruit wedges or cherries. Pull up a lawn chair and place your feet in  a kiddie pool.

Brad Brolsma Announces Retirement from Merchants Bank Equipment Finance

BrolsmaBradBrad Brolsma, President of Merchants Bank Equipment Finance, has announced his retirement, effective December 31, 2016, according to Rodney R. Nelson, CEO of Merchants Financial Group, Inc. (MFGI).

Brolsma has been President of Merchants Bank Equipment Finance (MBEF), previously known as Merchants Capital Resources, since 2002. MBEF is a division of Merchants Bank. Merchants has begun the process of working with an executive search firm to fill this leadership position.

“Brad has provided exceptional leadership and MBEF has contributed significantly to our bottom line throughout his tenure,” Nelson said. “Brad will be difficult to replace. His team will miss him, as will all members of our organization.”

Brolsma said it has been gratifying to see the reach and influence of MBEF grow. The company provides equipment financing options to businesses located throughout the Upper Midwest and also partners with other finance companies in equipment finance transactions outside of its marketing footprint. Founded in 1988, MBEF provides equipment financing options to best meet the needs of its customers across many industries, including construction, transportation, healthcare, manufacturing and food and agriculture.

“I’ve been fortunate to work with an exceptional group of professionals who are always focused on meeting and exceeding the needs of our customers and for an organization that really epitomizes the very best in community banking,” Brolsma said.

MBEF is located in Edina. In addition to MBEF, MFGI owns 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.