Kaleb Storm Joins Merchants Bank as a Commercial and Ag Banker

Kaleb Storm

Kaleb Storm has joined Merchants Bank as a Commercial and Ag Banker, according to Randy Domeyer, Senior Vice President and Commercial Banking Manager for Merchants in Winona.

“Kaleb’s experience in commercial and ag lending will be a benefit to his customers and add strength to our team here at Merchants,” Domeyer said.

Storm brings industry experience in banking as a Commercial and Ag Banker, as well as a credit analyst, from Unity Bank, working both in Wisconsin and Minnesota. He has experience in both SBA (Small Business Administration) and FSA (Farm Service Agency) loans.

Storm also brings practical experience in agriculture, which will help him understand the needs of his customers first-hand. He worked on the family farm near Westby growing up and looks forward to continue helping family in the St. Charles and Dover area. He has also worked as a Vineyard Manager, again near Westby.

“I understand what’s important in making a good loan, and I understand and appreciate the value of hard work,” Storm said. “The values that I have are consistent with Merchants’ values, and that was important in my decision to join this organization.”

Storm has a degree in Business Administration/Business Finance from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

“I look forward to getting to know the area and the people who make this a special place,” Storm said.

Merchants Bank has 21 locations, including its locations in Winona, Goodview and other Minnesota locations in St. Charles, 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. Loans are subject to approval. Twin Cities-based Merchants Bank Equipment Finance is also a division of Merchants Bank, N.A.

Q&A with Two Business Banking Experts: Meet Annette Bleninger & Jeff Carter

Q&AAnnetteBJeffC-Blog

Did you know we have over 40 Commercial Bankers and Cash Management experts available to help your business? At every local branch, you’ll find a Commercial Banking team ready to get to know your business and provide meaningful financial solutions.

This month we’re meeting two of the team who serve our clients in the South Metro area:

  • Jeff Carter, Commercial Banker in Cottage Grove and Hastings
  • Annette Bleninger, Cash Management Officer and Certified Treasury Professional (CTP) in Rosemount

Read on to learn more about Jeff, Annette and how they approach working with business customers every day.

Share a little about your background and banking career

Annette: I have worked in financial services for over 20 years, with more than 14 of those years in Cash Management. I started with Merchants Bank in September of 2017 and am very happy to be with a community bank that really strives to find meaningful, valuable solutions for our business customers.

Jeff: Likewise, I have been in the financial services industry for over 20 years, with 15 years in commercial lending. I joined Merchants in 2013 and have spent most of my career in community banking culture, where my passion lies.

What do you like most about your job?

Annette: I really enjoy the variety of customers that I meet when we go out to visit businesses. It is so interesting to hear about your passion and see your facility. Having that background knowledge and relationship really helps us work together to create the most efficient cash management plan for your situation.

Jeff: Getting to know you, our business customer, is one of the most rewarding parts of my job as well. I really enjoy creating relationships with business owners. At the end of the day, I strive to bring you value – whether that’s products, services or counsel – to help you succeed. I hope these relationships are lifelong and meaningful.

What kinds of business do you typically work with and how do you help them?

Jeff: The beautiful thing about community banking is that we can help every business in our community.

Annette: Yes, that’s definitely true. I work with businesses of all sizes and variety every day. Cash management solutions can be used by any business – big or small. I help businesses like yours come up with plans to make their day-to-day processes more efficient, reduce the potential for check or electronic fraud, while allowing them access to their cash as needed.

Jeff: In addition to Cash Management services, we also have deposit accounts to help your business with daily financial needs and grow your money. We even offer business checking account analysis, free of charge, whether your account is with us or elsewhere. We know the needs of a business change over time and we want to be sure you’re in the account that best serves your needs.

Then on the loan side, we can provide smart solutions to leverage capital and grow your business. No matter where you are on your business journey, from start-up to expansion, we have the products and expertise to assist you at any stage.

What do smart business owners do?

Annette: Security is a big concern for our customers, so I think smart business owners make information security a priority. You can start small. One of the most important things a business can do is monitor their daily activity in their accounts to catch fraudulent activity early. Whether you are using our fraud management products (like Positive Pay), or managing it on your own through daily monitoring in online banking, it is a critical function.

Jeff: For me, smart business owners understand the value of a relationship with their key financial partners (ie: banker, CPA, attorney, insurance agent, etc) and will learn how we can all work together to assist in their success. Consistent communication and collaboration amongst your key sphere of influence can keep you on track and uncover unforeseen obstacles and opportunities.

What is something not many businesses know about working with Merchants Bank?

Jeff: Merchants is large enough to provide the level of products and services every business needs but is culturally small, meaning, the focus is on local bankers creating local relationships to support the communities that we serve.

Annette: Along the same lines, I think it’s important to note that we are most interested in finding solutions that work for your business and help you succeed. We are not here to pressure you into using and/or paying for products that may not be the best fit for your needs.

How would you describe your team approach to working with businesses?

Annette: I typically work very closely with our Commercial Bankers. As one of our business customers, we try to help you understand each team member’s main area of expertise, but we are always willing to take your call and direct it to the correct person. You will never hear “that’s not my job” at Merchants Bank.

Jeff: The Merchants Commercial Banking team brings you many areas of expertise, which include our lenders, cash management experts, lending assistants, credit analysts, and more. We are very supportive of one another and team up to provide assistance and bring more value to you.

What does community banking mean to you?

Annette: Community banking means being a trusted partner for our business customers. We truly get to know you, your business, and your needs and expectations so we can be proactive instead of reactive with our approach.

Jeff: To echo what Annette said, community banking is all about relationships and value. As Bankers, we need to know our customers by building relationships in order to provide the most valuable solutions for their situation so they are successful. We live in the communities we serve and successful businesses build strong communities. We do it together.

Learn more about business and commercial banking at Merchants Bank:

Lisa Franxman Named Market President for Merchants Bank in Rosemount

FranxmanLisa

Respected, relationship-focused area banker Lisa Franxman has joined the team at Merchants Bank as Market President in Rosemount, according to Twin Cities’ Regional President Lawrence Stovern.

“Lisa is well known in the Rosemount and Farmington area as an exceptional banker and someone who is committed to making the area a better place to live,” Stovern said. “We are excited to have her as part of the leadership team here in the Twin Cities as we continue to grow.”

Before joining the team at Merchants, Franxman had been with Anchor Bank since 2000. She was named President of the Farmington location in 2011. In addition to her leadership skills, Franxman is an accomplished commercial and SBA lender, with a background in credit analysis. She is focused on enhancing and building long-term business relationships. In 2015, she received the Exceptional Business Woman award from the Dakota County Tribune.

“As a community banker, Merchants shares my values for making the communities we serve better places to live, work and grow,” Franxman said. “I’m looking forward to sharing my expertise, connections and knowledge in helping the Rosemount bank meet the needs of the area.”

Franxman has a long history of community involvement. She serves on the Executive Board of Hope for Tomorrow, currently leading the Farmington chapter. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Dakota County Regional Chamber of Commerce, where she chaired the Women’s Conference committee in 2015 and 2016. She is a member of the Dakota County Sheriff’s Citizen Advisory Council. She served on the Board of Directors for the Rotary Club of Farmington and was President of the Club in 2015-2016.

Merchants Bank has 21 locations, including the southern Twin Cities metropolitan suburbs of Rosemount, Apple Valley, Cottage Grove, Hastings and Lakeville. Other Minnesota locations include Winona, St. Charles, Goodview, Rochester, Rushford, Lanesboro, Caledonia, La Crescent, Spring Grove, Cannon Falls, Red Wing and Hampton, Merchants has Wisconsin locations in Eau Claire and Onalaska. Twin Cities-based Merchants Bank Equipment Finance is also a division of Merchants Bank, N.A.

Danny Pohnl Joins Merchants Bank in Eau Claire as a Commercial Banker

Daniel Pohnl, Commercial Banker

Danny Pohnl has joined the growing team at Merchants Bank in Eau Claire as a Commercial Banker, according to Larry Accola, President for Merchants Bank in Eau Claire.

Pohnl 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, comfortable working with SBA 7(a) and 504 loans. 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.

“Danny has the background, experience and desire to help business owners reach their goals. He understands our market and is focused on providing exceptional customer service,” Accola said.

Merchants is continuing to add staff to serve customers in the greater Eau Claire area. Over the past six months they have added two mortgage lenders to help customers – with Ben Franko serving people in the Chippewa Valley and Tony Scalzo working with people northwest of Eau Claire.

“I’m excited to be with Merchants Bank. It has an excellent reputation in the banking industry as a community bank with the ability to help with projects of almost any size,” Pohnl said. “I’m especially excited to be with Merchants in Eau Claire because the Bank’s commitment to the market and the growth potential in the market.”

Merchants Bank started serving the Eau Claire market in 2014 when it acquired Alliance Bank in Eau Claire.

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. Twin Cities-based Merchants Bank Equipment Finance is also a division of Merchants Bank, N.A.

5 New Year’s Resolutions for Your Business Finances

NewYearsFinancialResolutions-Blog

The new year can mean many things for your business. What will the next 12 months look like? Do you have goals for your business and how you plan to get there? Now is the time to review your past financial performance and make plans for 2018.

With this in mind, we’ve put together five financial New Year’s resolutions to help your business make this one of the best years yet.

1. Review Last Year’s Financial Highlights

How did your business perform in 2017? At the most basic level, you should review your business income, expenses, profit and sales.

In addition, ask yourself these questions:

  • How do these numbers compare to last year? Are they better or worse and by how much?
  • Do these numbers align with my business projections for 2017? Why or why not? Are there new income or expenses that should be accounted for in 2018?
  • In what area(s) of my business did I see the most growth?
  • What lessons can I learn from my 2017 business data?

2. Set New Goals
Goal setting does not have to be complicated, especially now that you’ve taken the time to review key numbers from 2017.

It’s as simple as writing down 2 or 3 things you’d like to see your business achieve this year. It could be a goal to reduce expenses in a certain area, to produce a new product or hire additional expertise.

The most important part about goal setting is to be specific so you can measure your success throughout the year. Attaching time frames, numbers, steps it will take to meet your goal and other details can help you know if you’re on track or not.

Once you’ve established your 2018 goals, here’s a fun way to keep them top of mind from the SCORE business blog.

By clicking above 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.

3. Update Software and Processes

Payroll and other business processes can be affected by the change to a new year. Make sure your systems are up-to-date and ready for 2018. It’s also a great time to review your security protocol and procedures, especially if your business collects personal information from your customers.

4. Check in With Your Business Team
Catch up with your accountant, tax advisor, lawyer and banker at the beginning of the new year. Communication between you and your team of expert advisors can be crucial to your business’s success. After all, they want your business to succeed just as much as you do.

“During this time of the year, I like to check in with my business customers and see how they felt about 2017 performance and what’s on tap for 2018,” said Mike Swanson, Commercial Banking Officer in Hastings. “For example, what went well for them in 2017 and what didn’t? Are there any new opportunities or internal changes coming? It’s about keeping the lines of communication open, so I can provide the best solutions going forward.”

As you share your business plans for 2018, your team can also provide updates on things that may affect your business. For example, there may be new taxes or loan programs, changes to business laws and much more.

5. Celebrate Small Successes

We’ve saved this resolution for last, but it’s certainly one of the most important – you deserve to celebrate your business’s successes. Being a small business owner can feel like a never-ending job, so take a minute to give yourself (and your team) some kudos. Celebrating small successes are the steps to celebrating larger ones!

Our team of Commercial & Ag Bankers and Cash Management Specialists are ready to talk about your business plans for 2018. Visit our website to meet our local experts.

Congratulate New and Promoted Staff

NewPromotedStaff-Blog

New Staff

BleningerAnnette Annette Bleninger, Cash Management Officer, CTP, Rosemount

Annette has more than 15 years of banking experience in sales, customer service and operations in Cash Management. She has worked with customers of varying sizes to help them determine the products and services that will help them most effectively manage their short term funds. She is looking forward to working with customers and bankers across Merchants Bank’s Twin Cities locations.

BorgenAmanda Amanda Borgen, Teller, Rushford

Amanda previously worked as a Sales Associate/Assistant Manager at Cut Above Home in Rochester. Having grown up on a farm, she and her husband are happy to have recently moved back to the country on their own farm. They have a new puppy named Bear, who can be quite a handful, but a great dog. Amanda loves doing anything creative, from sewing to drawing to DIY’s

KeimMeghan Meghan Keim, Customer Service Representative & Teller, Winona-Lakeside

Meghan previously worked at David’s Bridal and KDLT-TV. She has a communications background and graduated from Minnesota State University Moorehead. Meghan is a bubbly person who loves sports (Minnesota ones!), holidays, chocolate, movies, baking, reading, and talking with people.

KnottKayla Kayla Knott, Teller, Winona-Lakeside

Kayla is from a small town in Minnesota and has four siblings, one of which is her identical twin!  Kayla is a sophomore at Winona State University majoring in Business.  She previously worked at Fergusons Apple Orchard, Schweich’s Hotel Bar & Restaurant, and Hy-Vee.

ThaiAmyNgoc Amy Thai, Teller, Cottage Grove

Amy also currently works at DSW as a part-time Sales Associate and previously worked at Quali-Mac as an Assistant. She is happy to join the Merchants team and looks forward to getting to know our Cottage Grove customers.

Promotions and Transfers

ManorMeghan Meghan Manor, Personal Banker, Winona-Downtown

Megan has been with Merchants since 2016. She was previously a Customer Service Representative in Winona.

Toni Nisbit, Vice President of Mortgage Operations, Winona-Downtown

Toni has been with Merchants Bank since 2001. She was previously the Underwriting Manager/Assistant Mortgage Operations Manager.

Congratulate New and Promoted Staff

New Staff

Kayla Beckjorden, Part Time Teller, Rochester – Green Meadows
Kayla previously worked at Kohl’s as a Sales Associate. During the summer she enjoys attending as many car shows as she can and she is also a huge animal lover.

 

 

Claudia Bergaus, Electronic Banking Specialist, Winona – Downtown
Claudia previously worked at HyVee as an Assistant Manager and at Midtown Foods in Customer Service and as a Cashier. 

 

 

 

Sam Bowen, Part Time Teller, Lakeville
Sam attends Lakeville North High School and previously worked at Chart House Restaurant. Sam is extremely excited to be here working at Merchants.

 

 

Jackson Dorma, Part Time Teller, Cottage Grove
Jackson was previously at District 833 Service Center at a Tech Intern and is very excited to join Merchants.

 

 

 

April Duncan, Teller & Vault Attendant, Winona – Lakeside
April previously worked as a Teller at Wells Fargo in La Crosse and as a Customer Service Representative at Directtv/Att in Huntville, AL.

 

 

 

EricsonTaylorTaylor Ericson, Teller, Lakeville
Taylor previously worked at River Valley Church as a Connections Coordinator. Taylor and her husband, Paul have been happily married for almost 4 years. Taylor is a photographer and enjoys being creative in her free time. She loves meeting new people and is excited to join the Merchants team.

 

 

FrankoBenBen Franko, Mortgage Lender, Eau Claire
Ben previously worked at Wells Fargo at a Mortgage Banker. He is actively involved in the community and serves on the Community Table Board of Directors as the Co-President. Ben and his wife have two children. He enjoys the outdoors, fishing and hunting. 

 

 

GernesCalebCaleb Gernes, Trust Assistant, Winona-Downtown
Caleb previously worked at Winona National Bank as a Teller and at Mugby Junction as a Barista. Caleb is currently attending Winona State University majoring in Marketing. He is a ballroom dancer, speaks French and has a pet bearded dragon.

 

 

GuzzoAndrewAndrew Guzzo, Regional President, Winona-Downtown
Andrew 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. Andrew and his wife, Dawn, have four children, two boys and two girls. Learn more about Andrew here.

 

Alyssa Melbostad, Teller, Caledonia
Alyssa previously worked at Winneshiek Medical Center as a Rehabilitation Technician. Alyssa and her husband reside in Spring Grove with their son. She enjoys spending time with her family and getting outside as much as possible.

 

 

Melisa Miklya, Teller, Cottage Grove
Melisa previously worked at Microtel Inn & Suites. She is a single mother of a kind heart, spunky seven-year-old. In her free time, Melisa enjoys spending time with family, playing the piano for her grandma, crocheting and enjoying the fresh air.

 

 

Eryn Orth, Teller & Customer Service Representative, Winona – Goodview
Eryn previously worked at White Rose Bridal as a Bridal Consultant. She grew up on a dairy farm near Lewiston and recently graduated from UW-River Falls with her BS Degree in Agriculture Business. She is excited to be getting married in September.

 

 

MillerGina

Gina Miller, Commercial Banker, Onalaska
Gina previously worked at Wells Fargo Bank as a Business Relationship Manager for 17 years. She was raised in La Crosse, has been married for four years and has a daughter. She is active in the community as a member of the Coulee Region Young Professionals, a member of the Women’s Alliance of La Crosse, and a participant in the Chamber of Commerce’s La Crosse Area Community Leadership Program. In her free time, Gina likes to downhill ski, hike and spend summer days on the river. She also enjoys spending time with her family and friends.

 

ReardonRoseRose Reardon, Teller, Cannon Falls
Rose also currently works at Spartan Nash as a Guest Associate. 

 

 

 

 

Matthew Rodenburg, Teller, Winona – Downtown
Matthew previously worked at Destiny Life Church as an Associate/Youth Pastor and at Tri-County Record as a Journalist/Staff Writer. Matt is a father of four and is originally from Omaha, NE. He loves movies, the 80’s, and the Chicago Bears (which means he is especially fond of 1985).

 

 

ScalzoTonyTony Scalzo, Mortgage Lender, Eau Claire
Tony owns Scalzo Properties, LLC and previously worked at US Bank as a Mortgage Loan Originator and at Johnson Bank as a Mortgage Loan Officer.

 

 

Tammy Strand, Part Time Teller, St. Charles
Tammy previously worked at Mike’s Food Center as a Cashier. She also previously owned her own business, Abby’s Locker Room, which was located in St Charles. Tammy is married and has four children and two cats. Her hobbies include reading, crafting, working in the yard & garden and home renovations.

 

 

Larissa Verbeke, Customer Service Representative & Back Up Teller, Rosemount
Larissa previously worked at Merchants as a Teller. She graduated in May from Winona State University majoring in Finance and Human Resources with a minor in Management and after graduation relocated to Hastings. In her free time she likes to play volleyball, run, hike and be with her family and friends.

 

 

Molli Vodak, Electronic Banking Specialist
Molli previously worked at Benton State Bank as a Consumer Loan Officer and Customer Service Representative. She and her husband recently moved to Winona, so her husband could help his parents with their family business. They are looking forward to their new adventure and they are excited to see what their future holds.

 

 

Rachel Wyttenbach, Administrative Assistant & Customer Service Representative, Onalaska
Rachel previously worked at Citizens State Bank as a Customer Service Representative. She is recently engaged and is planning a June 2018 wedding. Rachel has two fur babies, Leo and Aspen.

 

 

Nou Xiong, Lending Assistant & Customer Service Representative, Apple Valley
Nou previously worked at Wells Fargo as a Loan Processor for 15 years. She is married and has three daughters and one son. As a family, they love to take small walks and she enjoys watching her son fish.

 

Promotions and Transfers

BauerJennaJenna Bauer, Mortgage Lender, Hastings
Jenna has been with Merchants since 2011. She was previously a Customer Service Representative in Hastings.

 

 

 

Alyssa Connolly, Lead Teller, Cottage Grove
Alyssa has been with Merchants since 2015. She was previously a Teller in Cottage Grove. 

 

 

 

Corey Decker, Electronic Banking Specialist, Winona – Downtown
Corey has been with Merchants since 2017. He is also currently the Director of Customer Assistance in Winona. 

 

 

 

Amy Gutierrez, Trust Administrative Specialist, Winona – Downtown
Amy has been with Merchants since 2014. She was previously a Credit Operations Representative and also has a law degree from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, IL.

 

 

HarrisonAshley copyAshley Harrison, Mortgage Lender, La Crescent
Ashley has been with Merchants Bank since 2011. She was previously a Teller, Marketing Coordinator, Mortgage Purchasing Specialist, Underwriter and most recently a Mortgage Underwriting Specialist.

 

 

WagnerAshleyAshley Wagner, Retail Lending Assistant, Winona – Downtown
Ashley has been with Merchants since 2014. She was previously an Electronic Banking Representative in Winona.

 

 

 

Kally Whalen, Customer Service Representative, St. Charles
Kally has been with Merchants since 2016. She was previously an Electronic Banking Representative in Winona.