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

EvansGreg

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

WarrenTirzah

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!”

Meet the Next Winners of Merchants Bank’s Money Ball in Cannon Falls

Jenny Holz from Merchants Bank pictured with winners Falon Hepola (left) and Kaden Anderson (right).

During the Cannon Falls and Kenyon-Wanamingo Boy’s basketball game on Friday, February 3, two students claimed prizes for making shots during Merchants Bank’s Money Ball, according to Jenny Holz, who is coordinating Money Ball for Merchants Bank.

Falon Hepola, competing in the 1st-5th grade category, made a lay-up and free throw and earned $15. Kaden Andersen, competing in the 6th-12th grade category, made a free throw and 3-pointer to earn $35.

“The crowd was pulling for them to make their shots,” Holz said. “We’re hoping someone will be able to make the half-court shot the next game.”

The next and last chance for the season is during the Cannon Falls and Goodhue Girl’s game Friday, February 10.

To be eligible, students sign up before halftime of the varsity game. Two contestants are then chosen randomly, one from 1st-5th grade and another from 6th-12th grade. Each contestant has a minute to make shots. The 1st-5th grader wins $5 for a made lay-up, $10 for made free throw, and then if both shots have been made, the student has one chance to win $25 for a made 3-pointer. If a 3-pointer isn’t made, the money rolls over to the next game. The 6th-12th grader wins $10 for a made free throw, $25 for a 3-pointer, and if both shots have been made, the student has one chance to win $100 for a half-court shot. If the half-courter isn’t made, the money rolls over to the next game.

No customer relationship is necessary to enter or win. Merchants Bank employees and family members are not eligible to enter or win.

Congratulations and Thank You, Rod

EvansGreg

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.

Merchants Announces Record Earnings of $14,154,891 in 2016

NelsonRod

Rod Nelson, President/CEO

Preliminary net income numbers show that for the second consecutive year Merchants Financial Group, Inc. (MFGI) has realized record earnings with $14,154,891 in 2016, according to MFGI President & CEO Rodney R. Nelson. The numbers are subject to final audit.

This year’s earnings surpassed last year’s record of $13,454,698. Nelson noted that 2016 also saw two dividend increases for shareholders, going from 53 cents to 55 cents per share in the Spring, and 55 cents to 56 cents per share in the Fall. MFGI share price started the year at $42.75 and was $54.40 at year-end.

“Our employees provided exceptional service and guidance to our customers to help them achieve their financial goals, and through doing that drove our income in the areas of mortgage activity, loan growth and credit card income,” said Nelson, who is retiring Tuesday, January 31, after 17 years with the Merchants organization.

Nelson noted that total loan growth was 7.2% over 2015. Deposits increased by 9.1% and MFGI’s capital grew from $139 million at year end 2015 to $150.1 million at year end 2016, an 8% increase. Total assets ended the year at $1.623 billion.

Nelson said five locations –Winona, Onalaska, Rochester, Lakeville and Hastings –and the company’s leasing division, Merchants Bank Equipment Finance, topped $1 million in earnings.

“We believe that our focus on community banking and the power our local leaders have to make decisions, along with the lending capabilities that come with a bank of our size, make us unique in our industry and the best choice for individuals and businesses across our region,” Nelson said.

Greg Evans, who has been with the organization 28 years and is currently Chief Banking Officer, will succeed Nelson as MFGI President & CEO.

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.

“10 Days of Giving” at 206,050 Pounds for 2016; Passes 3 Million Pounds Collected in Total

10dayscochairs

“10 Days of Giving” Food Drive Co-Chairs Jen Welch and Chad Anderson

Through school and business pickups Monday and Tuesday, the “Days of Giving”Food Drive was at 206,050 pounds of food. The collection puts the drive at over 3 million pounds of food collected during the drive’s 28-year history to benefit the food shelf at Winona Volunteer Services.

“The pick-ups are always a lot of work for our volunteers and the volunteers at Winona Volunteer Services, and it always seems as if they are on the coldest days of the year,” said Jen Welch, one of this year’s co-chairs for Merchants Bank. “Our thanks to all of our volunteers and to all of the people who donated goods and money to make the drive a success. We are thankful to top 3 million pounds and grateful that we have been able to help people in our area who have a need.”

The 2016 total breaks down to $90,900 in cash and 24,250 pounds of food. For the purposes of the total, two pounds of food are counted for each dollar. The total for 28 years now stands at 3,045,465 pounds.

“All of us at Merchants Bank are looking forward to renewing the drive next year and helping to meet our goal of helping to make sure no one in Winona County goes hungry during the winter,” Welch said.

Merchants collected nonperishable food items at its locations as well as at schools and participating businesses around the area. A list of participating schools and businesses is at www.merchantsbank.com/10daysofgiving.

Money Ball is Back for its Fourth Year in Apple Valley

MoneyballAV

Merchants Bank’s Money Ball is back for its fourth year, with Apple Valley students having the opportunity to participate in the halftime event 11 times during the Apple Valley boys’ varsity basketball season, according to Brian Wester, who coordinates Money Ball for Merchants Bank.

Apple Valley School District students can sign up before each game and then two students are chosen at random to participate. Each student gets one minute to make a lay-up, free throw and then a half-court shot. The student wins a $10 Chipotle gift card for a made lay-up, a $25 Buffalo Wild Wings gift card for a made free throw and $100 or more for a made half-court shot. If the half-court shot isn’t made, the money rolls over and is added to the next home game.

“It’s exciting for the students and a benefit for the basketball booster club,”said Brian Wester, who coordinates Money Ball for Merchants Bank. “Through our first three years we’ve given nearly $5,000 to students and matched that amount for the booster club.”

The full schedule for the year is as follows:

  • Dec 13 — Cretin Durham Hall
  • Dec 15 — Owatonna
  • Jan 6 — Shakopee
  • Jan 10 — Rosemount
  • Jan 13 — Prior Lake
  • Jan 26 — Eastview
  • Feb 7 — Lakeville North
  • Feb 17 — Lakeville South
  • Feb 21 — Farmington
  • Feb 28 — Eagan
  • March 3 — Burnsville

No customer relationship is necessary to enter or win. Merchants Bank employees and family members are not eligible to enter or win.