Merchants Financial Group, Inc. Posts Earnings of Nearly $6 million Through the Second Quarter of 2017

GregEvansPresidentCEOMerchants Financial Group, Inc. (MFGI) announced net income of $5,970,031 through the second quarter of 2017, according to MFGI President & CEO Gregory M. Evans.

“Our core business is performing extremely well,” Evans said. “Our year has been one of significant strategic progress, and our earnings have been solid.”

Evans noted that there has been year-over-year growth in both deposits and loans. He said mortgage volume continues to be strong and well ahead of MFGI’s plan through the first six months of 2017.

Net income is slightly behind MFGI’s plan for two quarters and is behind 2016’s pace, when MFGI celebrated record earnings. Earnings were impacted by $900,000 set aside as addition to loan loss reserves in the second quarter. Merchants made a similar adjustment at the end of the first quarter. The money is a cushion against possible future loan stress. Evans said putting the money aside is consistent with MFGI’s conservative principles, and that actual loan charge-off activity is well below industry averages.

“We believe we are well-positioned for continued strong earnings during the second half of the year,”Evans said. “I am optimistic about the remainder of the year and beyond.”

MFGI owns 21 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. 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 440 employees and its shareholders, mostly individuals and families from southeastern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin.

Kelly Donohoe Promoted to Personal Banking Manager at Merchants Bank in Lakeville

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Kelly Donohoe has been promoted to Personal Banking Manager at Merchants Bank in Lakeville, according to Dan Vlasak, President of Merchants Bank in Lakeville.

Donohoe has been with the Merchants organization since 2012, when she started as a teller at the Apple Valley location. In 2014 she moved to Lakeville and was Customer Service Representative/Lead Teller from 2015 until her most recent promotion.

“I really enjoy getting to know our customers,” Donohoe said. “This new position will allow me to deepen my relationships with my customers. I’m looking forward to it.”

As Personal Banking Manager, Donohoe will help customers with their personal banking needs, including consumer loans.

“Kelly knows our customers, our Bank and what products we can offer our customers to make their lives better,” Vlasak said. “She’s a great example of a community banker, someone who cares about our customers.”

Merchants Bank has 21 locations, including Lakeville, Hastings, Apple Valley, Cottage Grove, Rosemount, Cannon Falls, Red Wing, and Hampton and other Minnesota locations in Winona, St. Charles, Goodview, Rochester, Rushford, Lanesboro, Caledonia, La Crescent and Spring Grove. Merchants has Wisconsin locations in Eau Claire and Onalaska. All banks are FDIC members and equal housing lenders. Subject to credit approval. Twin Cities-based Merchants Bank Equipment Finance is also a division of Merchants Bank, N.A.

Merchants Financial Group, Inc. Posts Earnings of $2,090,285 for the First Quarter of 2017; Pays 56 Cents Per Share Dividend

EvansGreg

Greg Evans, President & CEO

Merchants Financial Group, Inc. (MFGI) announced net income of $2,090,085 through the first quarter of 2017, according to MFGI President & CEO Gregory M. Evans.

“Our core earnings continue to be strong and remain on target,” Evans said. “I am optimistic about our continued growth.”

During its April meeting the MFGI Board of Directors approved a semiannual dividend of 56 cents per share to shareholders. Last year, the MFGI Board raised the dividend twice from 53 cents to 55 cents per share and then from 55 cents to 56 cents per share.

Evans said net income is slightly behind MFGI’s plan for the first quarter and behind 2016’s pace, when MFGI celebrated record earnings. He said first quarter earnings were augmented by an additional $1.1 million in loan loss reserve put aside to cushion against possible future loan stress.

“This precautionary action is prudent and consistent with conservative banking principles that have served us so well over the years. The loans for which we added the reserves remain active, and we believe that over time the outcomes will be positive,” Evans said.

Evans noted that MFGI stock is continuing to trade at or near record prices. At the end of the first quarter, stock was trading at $59.50 per share, up from $45.01 a year ago and $54.40 at the end of 2016.

“My expectation and the expectation of the MFGI Board is that we will continue to build on the success model we have put in place,” Evans said.

MFGI owns 21 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. 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 440 employees and its shareholders, mostly individuals and families from southeastern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin.

Merchants Bank Twin Cities Advisory Board of Directors Reappointed

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Lawrence Stovern, Twin Cities Regional President

The Merchants Bank Advisory Board of Directors for the Twin Cities region has been reappointed, according to Twin Cities Regional President Lawrence Stovern.

Reappointed to their positions on the Board were Board Chairman James A. Trenda, President CP Advisors, LLC; Heide C. Olson, CEO of All In One Accounting; Peggy Johnson, Community Relations Director for Dakota County Electric Association, and James Emond, a realtor with Remax Advantage Plus. The Advisory Board was reappointed at an April 18 meeting of the Merchants Bank Charter Board.

Stovern and Trenda, who is also a member of the Merchants Financial Group, Inc. (MFGI) Board of Directors, reported about the recent MFGI Annual Meeting April 6 in Winona, where record earnings of $14,154,891 were reported. It was the second consecutive year of record earnings for MFGI.

“We continue to grow in the Twin Cities and contribute to the overall growth of our organization,” Stovern said. “Key to that growth is our ability to build long-term relationships, and that is where our Advisory Board of Directors is so critical.”

Merchants has five locations in the southern Twin Cities, including Apple Valley, Lakeville, Rosemount, Hastings and Cottage Grove. Merchants moved into a new facility in Cottage Grove late in 2016, after selling its previous location to Hy-Vee, to help make way for development in Cottage Grove.

Merchants Bank has 21 locations in Minnesota and Wisconsin. In addition to the Twin Cities locations 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. All banks are FDIC members and equal housing lenders. Additionally, MFGI also owns Twin Cities-based Merchants Bank Equipment Finance, a division of Merchants Bank, N.A.

Merchants Bank Advisory Board of Directors Reappointed

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Dan Massett, Central Region President

The Merchants Bank Advisory Board of Directors for Cannon Falls, Red Wing and Hampton has been reappointed, according to Central Region President Dan Massett.

Reappointed to their positions on the Advisory Board were Board Chairman John O. Althoff, Retired Owner Althoff Hardware; Leslie M. Anderson, Farmer and Real Estate Agent Edina Realty; Donna R. Anderst, President and Chief Executive Officer SCS Elevator Products, Inc.; Richard A. Peterson, Owner Peterson Turkey Hatchery, Inc.; and Gary Schmidgall, Project Coordinator Hancock Concrete Products, LLC. The Advisory Board was reappointed at an April 18 meeting of the Merchants Bank Charter Board.

Massett said the Advisory Board was initially put in place after Merchants acquired the Cannon Falls and Red Wing locations 10 years ago and has been critical in the success of Merchants Bank in the Region.

“The people on our Board have provided exceptional direction and guidance in helping us to identify businesses that may be the best fit for our community bank,” Massett said. “They are always looking to make the communities we serve better places for business and better places to live. I am thankful for all they’ve done for their neighbors and for Merchants Bank, and I look forward to their continued input as we continue to grow.”

Merchants Bank has 21 locations in Minnesota and Wisconsin. In addition to Cannon Falls, Red Wing and Hampton, Merchants has Minnesota locations in Winona, St. Charles, Goodview, Rochester, Rushford, Lanesboro, Caledonia, La Crescent, Spring Grove, 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. Additionally, MFGI also owns Twin Cities-based Merchants Bank Equipment Finance, a division of Merchants Bank, N.A.

Richard T. Lommen, Jr. Re-elected to Merchants Financial Group, Inc., Board; Onalaska/La Crescent Advisory Board of Directors Reappointed

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Steve Christiansen, Market President – Onalaska and La Crescent

During the Merchants Financial Group, Inc. (MFGI) Annual Meeting on April 6, area business leader Richard T. Lommen Jr., was re-elected to a three-year term on the MFGI Board.

Lommen is also the Board Chairman for the Merchants Bank Advisory Board of Directors in La Crescent and Onalaska. Lommen, the President/Owner of Courtesy Corporation, is joined on the Advisory Board of Directors by a number of area business leaders.

The members of the Merchants Bank Advisory Board of Directors in La Crescent and Onalaska were reappointed to their roles following an April 18 meeting of the Merchants Bank Charter Board. In addition to Lommen, Advisory Board of Directors include Dean L. Ashbacher, President and Chief Executive Officer Truss Specialists, Inc.; Robert A. Heth, Jr., President Heth Hardware, Inc.; Stephen D. Loehr, Vice President of Operations Support Kwik Trip, Inc., and Michael D. Cunningham, Partner La Crescent Property Ventures L.L.C. and Former CEO and Owner The Board Store Furniture and Home Improvements. Cunningham also serves as a member of the MFGI Board.

“It is gratifying to see the commitment of our advisory board to helping continuing to grow our relationships throughout the area,” said Steve Christiansen, Market President of Merchants Bank in Onalaska and La Crescent. “They are well-known in our area for their knowledge and advocacy for business growth.”

MFGI reported record income for 2016 of $14,154,891, its second year in a row of record income. The Onalaska location was one of the leaders, with nearly $2.2 million in net income.

MFGI owns 21 Merchants Bank locations. In addition to La Crescent and Onalaska, Merchants has Minnesota locations in Winona, St. Charles, Goodview, Rochester, Rushford, Lanesboro, Caledonia, 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 another Wisconsin location in Eau Claire. All banks are FDIC members and equal housing lenders. Additionally, MFGI also owns Twin Cities-based Merchants Bank Equipment Finance, a division of Merchants Bank, N.A.

From the President’s Desk: First Quarter 2017 Edition

GregEvansNewCEO-Blog

By Greg Evans, President and CEO

In today’s commoditized banking arena, we know we must continue to find value-added ways to differentiate Merchants from a myriad of traditional bank and non-bank competitors. Our primary differentiators are aligned with the community banking business model we deploy.

Our community banking model includes our commitment to deliver an unparalleled level of personalized service and care to our customers. We choose to staff our local market branches in a manner that allows us to deliver on our brand promise to be the Bank that Service Built. The staffing model also includes our commitment to having Market Presidents who are empowered and required to deliver on an expectation of community engagement and leadership.

Another aspect of our Brand that I believe is a differentiator is our ownership structure. One thing that I’ve come to realize is that many of our customers are not aware that Merchants is a publicly-traded Company. That might seem somewhat irrelevant, but the ownership structure of the Merchants organization is unique, and has absolutely contributed to our business success over our history of more than 140 years.

Our employees own approximately 18% of the organization through an Employee Stock Ownership plan. Pride of ownership on the part of our employees helps drive the commitment we make to serving you in a manner that results in customer loyalty and business growth.

In addition to being an employee-owned Company, the balance of the ownership structure for Merchants is loosely held by approximately 600 individuals and organizations, mostly in the form of friends, neighbors and business leaders throughout our service area footprint. Our stock is available to anybody who might be motivated to take an ownership interest. Merchants Financial Group, Inc., shares are traded over the counter (OTC) under the symbol MFGI. If you would personally have an interest in acquiring Merchants stock, contact Merchants Bank for more information.

I personally take a great deal of pride in having an ownership interest in our Company, but value even more greatly the fact that ownership is comprised of my teammates and business leaders in our communities that I have a tremendous amount of respect for. I do believe this ownership structure has been critical to our long-term success.

The long-time loyalty of our shareholders has allowed us stay the course with an intense focus on slow, steady growth. In addition to holding management accountable for meeting financial performance expectations, our shareholders also have high expectations for us to deliver on community leadership responsibilities. As customers, they also demand a high level of personalized service and attention to their many banking needs.

This ownership structure really is a differentiator for Merchants. It allows management to take a disciplined approach to strategic thinking, one that allows a long-term focus. Local ownership is a strength of the Merchants Brand. If you have an interest in becoming another of our local Shareholders, contact Merchants Bank for more information.

Merchants Financial Group, Inc. Reports Record Year to Shareholders and Appoints Directors

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Greg Evans, President & CEO

During its annual meeting Thursday, the shareholders of Merchants Financial Group, Inc. (MFGI) heard about the organization’s second consecutive record year, re-elected two Directors and elected a new Director to the MFGI Board of Directors.

Re-elected to three-year terms as Directors were: Kenneth J. Mogren, Retired President Winona Agency, Inc., and Richard T. Lommen, Jr., President/Owner Courtesy Corporation. Elected to a three-year term was Gregory M. Evans, President & Chief Executive Officer, Merchants Financial Group. Also recognized was Rodney R. Nelson, who retired as MFGI President & CEO and the MFGI Board at the end of January, 2017. Evans succeeded Nelson. Also recognized for his long service was MFGI Director David H. Keller, Retired President Lucas Body Systems, NA. Keller retired in 2016 after 31 years of service to the MFGI Board, including more than 15 as Board Chairman.

“One of the reasons we were able to experience a second consecutive record year has been the leadership of the MFGI Board of Directors and the leadership Rod exhibited as MFGI President and CEO,” Evans said. “With the support of our customers, shareholders and employees, we look forward to meeting our responsibility to continue to grow this exceptional community banking organization.”

During the meeting, Evans formally reported MFGI’s 2016 record year of $14,154,891 in net income, surpassing 2015’s record year if $13,454,698. Other high points reported were a loan growth increase of 6.8% over 2015. Deposits increased by 9.1% and MFGI’s share price grew 27.25% in 2016, ending 2016 at $54.50 per share. Total assets ended 2016 at $1.623 billion.

“Our shareholders provide all of us with exceptional support,” Evans said. “We are fortunate to be able to formally celebrate our achievements with them and look forward to the year ahead.”

Evans, Chief Financial Officer Sue Savat, and Chief Credit Officer Mark McGrory were featured speakers during the meeting.

MFGI owns 21 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. 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 more than 440 employees and its shareholders, mostly individuals and families from southeastern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin.

Tirzah Warren Promoted to Teller Administrator Officer at Merchants Bank

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Tirzah Warren, Teller Administrator Officer

Teller Administrator Tirzah Warren has been promoted to a Bank officer, according to Sue Hovell, Merchants Bank’s Director of Retail Banking Performance.

Warren took over Teller Administrator duties last summer and since that time has been supervising the Winona teller team at the Winona downtown, drive-up, Goodview and Lakeside locations.

“The promotion recognizes Tirzah’s contribution to the overall strategies of the Bank and success in leading her team to achieve or exceed key performance measures,” Hovell said.

Warren has been with the Merchants organization since 1999, when she started as a teller in Goodview. She was later promoted to Lead Teller in Goodview and served in that position for 10 years. She moved to the Lakeside location and was Lead Teller there for three years. At the beginning of 2016 she was named Assistant Teller Administrator until her promotion to Teller Administrator. She said she is focused on service.

“I come to work every day with a ‘servant leadership’mentality. I am here to serve my customers, to serve my tellers and to serve the Bank. I have spent all 18 of my years at Merchants in the teller department because I care deeply about how our customers are served and about the tellers,” Warren said. “I am excited about the growth I know this teller department can achieve!”

Congratulations and Thank You, Rod

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Greg Evans, President & CEO

By Greg Evans, Incoming President & CEO

At the end of January, Rod Nelson retired from his role as President & Chief Executive Officer for the Merchants organization. In his 17 years at Merchants, Rod provided remarkable leadership for the Bank and challenged all of us to be committed to an ongoing pursuit of excellence.

Space doesn’t permit me to share all that I have learned during my 17 years of having the good fortune to work with and for Rod. One thing that I will never forget is Rod’s leadership drive to making sure our customers are not just satisfied, but truly pleased. It is my hope that as you read this edition of our e-newsletter that you are one of the many customers we have who falls into the truly pleased category. If we haven’t earned that from you yet, please know we are working toward that end.

With Rod as our leader, we adopted an excellence creed, and I think it’s appropriate that it be shared with you:

For us, excellence is an aspiration, an attitude, a pursuit, a way of life. Excellence is all of us working together, aspiring to the fullness of our potential – determined to do everything better than it ever has been done before.

John B. Hall as adopted by Merchants Bank

Rod set excellence as the target with intention and humility. While some might suggest that perfection be the more appropriate target, Rod was always the first to admit that he was not capable of meeting a standard of perfection so he could not establish that expectation for the rest of us. What Rod always expected of those of us with leadership responsibility is that we were truly committed to that ongoing pursuit of excellence and always looking for opportunities to do things better than we have done before.

I’m not big into making New Year’s resolutions. But as I succeed Rod as the next President & CEO for the Merchants organization, I am resolute in maintaining the pursuit of excellence as a pillar of our corporate culture. That should translate to you and all of our customers in our living up to the brand promise of being the Bank that Service built. We truly appreciate your business and will work continually to earn your loyalty as a customer we hope is truly pleased… exactly the way our retired and respected leader would expect.