Merchants Bank Offers $5 Decorative Plates to Support “Fill an Empty Plate, Feed a Hungry Child” effort and the United Way’s “Packing for the Weekend” Program

The Merchants Bank locations in Cannon Falls and Red Wing are both supporting the “Fill an Empty Plate, Feed a Hungry Child”effort that supports the “Packing for the Weekend”program of the United Way of Goodhue, Wabasha and Pierce counties.

Through December 24 the locations are asking customers and area citizens to help feed area children and their families by buying a $5 decorative plate The plates will be placed on a tree in the Cannon Falls lobby and will be displayed in the Red Wing lobby.

While the Red Wing office has already made a contribution to the United Way, the Cannon Falls office will match the first $500 raised through donations.

The employees of the Cannon Falls and Red Wing offices both support the United Way through individual monetary contributions and through the volunteer efforts of its employees. Red Wing Vice President Patti Robertson and Cannon Falls Vice President Kim O’Reilly serve on the United Way Board of Directors.

Merchants Bank has 21 locations, including Minnesota locations in Red Wing, Cannon Falls, Hampton, La Crescent, Winona, St. Charles, Goodview, Rochester, Rushford, Lanesboro, Caledonia, Spring Grove, 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. Twin Cities-based Merchants Bank Equipment Finance is also a division of Merchants Bank, N.A.

Welch, Anderson Named “10 Days of Giving” Co-Chairs

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Jennifer Welch and Chad Anderson have been named co-chairs for Merchants Bank’s 2016 “10 Days of Giving”Food Drive, which runs December 1-10. The effort, which benefits food shelf programs operated by Winona Volunteer Services, will be celebrating its 28th year. To date, more than 2.8 million pounds of food have been collected.

“The participation we see from businesses, schools, individuals and others is inspiring,”said Welch, the Bank’s Events and Adventures Coordinator, who is serving her third year as co-chair. “We see many people give who have benefitted from the effort in the past. They know what it’s like to wonder if they are going to have enough to eat.”

Last year, the “10 Days of Giving”collected 231,233 pounds of food. It was the third highest total ever collected. Two pounds of food are calculated for each dollar brought in. The percentage of monetary donations keeps increasing each year.

“It is wonderful to see the community come together for a common cause,”said Anderson, a Commercial Banker, who is serving his first year as co-chair. “That includes the members of our team here at Merchants Bank. It’s truly a company effort to help make sure no one in Winona County goes hungry this winter.”

Through the end of 2015, 860 households used the food shelf at Winona Volunteer Services each month and 73 households used the food shelf on an emergency basis each month. The average amount of food distributed each month was 35,162 pounds.

As in the past, Merchants will be collecting at its locations as well as at schools and participating businesses around the area. For questions, please call Welch at 457-1108 or Anderson at 457-1196. The “10 Days of Giving”will officially kick off with a press conference at 9 a.m., December 1 at Merchants Bank in downtown Winona. Monetary donations can be made out to “10 Days of Giving”and can be mailed to, or dropped off at Merchants Bank, 102 E. 3rd Street, Winona, MN 55987. If you would like to make a donation online, you can go directly to the Winona Volunteer Services website: www.winonavs.org. Indicate “10 Days of Giving”after entering your name.

Joe Nelson Appointed to Merchants Bank Advisory Board of Directors

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Joe Nelson (right) with Tim Murphy

Joe Nelson has been appointed to the Merchants Bank Advisory Board of Directors for the Merchants Bank locations in Caledonia, Spring Grove, Rushford and Lanesboro, according to Board Chairman Timothy Murphy.

“Joe is well-known and well-respected for his commitment to the Ag industry,” Murphy said. “We think his addition on our Advisory Board will provide our Banks with greater insight into how to best provide financial solutions for those we serve in our area.”

Nelson and his wife Barb own and operate the Lanesboro Sales Commission and the Decorah Sales Commission.

“We see a great number of people in the area, and they share with us what’s important to them. I think having that knowledge will be a help to the Board,” Nelson said.

Nelson grew up on a family farm north of Canton, MN, and attended Mabel-Canton High School and the University of Minnesota. The Nelsons live north of Mabel, MN, where they raise registered Simmental and Angus cattle and have a diversified crop operation, in addition to their work in Lanesboro and Decorah.

“We’re proud to provide a fair and competitive market for livestock buyers and producers in a four-state area,”Nelson said.

Merchants Bank has 21 locations, including Minnesota locations in Rushford, Lanesboro, Caledonia, Spring Grove, Winona, St. Charles, Goodview, Rochester, La Crescent, 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. Twin Cities-based Merchants Bank Equipment Finance is also a division of Merchants Bank, N.A.

Debit Card Customers have been Reissued EMV Chip Cards

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All current Merchants Bank MasterCard Debit Cards have been reissued as EMV Chip MasterCard Debit Cards. Cards were mailed the last week of October and first week of November. You are encouraged to activate and use your new card(s) by the end of November. All existing (non-chip debit cards) will be deactivated as of December 1.

Why the change to chip technology? With this change, you’ll be able to take advantage of the security features of EMV chip technology, which can help prevent fraudulent transactions.

What is an EMV chip card?
The term “EMV” stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa – the original developers of chip cards. These cards increase the security of in-person transactions by generating a one-time use code that can only be read by a register enabled to read chip cards. The code is created from the small chip on the front of your card and is hard to counterfeit, which prevents fraud.

Is paying with a chip card different from paying with my other cards?
Yes, making a payment with a chip card is slightly different than the card transactions you are used to. Instead of swiping your card at the register, you’ll simply follow these instructions:

Step 1: Insert the chip end of your card into the terminal with the chip facing up.

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Step 2: Keep the card in the terminal during the transaction and follow the prompts on the screen.

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Step 3: Take your card when prompted. It’s that easy!

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Do all stores accept EMV chip cards?
Not yet, but the trend is growing. You can still make a purchase at a store that does not yet accept chip cards by simply swiping to pay.

What happens if I swipe my EMV chip card instead of inserting it into the register?
The terminal will display a message asking you to insert your card instead.

If I don’t have a Merchants Bank Debit Card, how can I request a debit card with chip technology?
Just send us an email to let us know you’re interested. If you’d like to learn more about EMV chip technology, contact the Customer Service Representative at your local Merchants Bank.

If you are a business and would like to accept EMV cards, contact our Credit Card department.

Merchants Financial Group, Inc. Posts Earnings of $9,774,109 Through the First Three Quarters of 2016; Onalaska Location Makes Significant Contributions

mfgiq3resultsMerchants Financial Group, Inc. (MFGI) announced net income of $9,774,109 through the first three quarters of 2016, according to MFGI President & CEO Rodney R. Nelson. Nelson pointed out that the Merchants Bank location in Onalaska contributed significantly to the performance.

Nelson said the Onalaska location ended with $1,777,844 in net income for the first nine months of the year, which was 62.4% over budget for the location. Nelson noted that total loans for Onalaska were up 36% and Commercial Real Estate balances increased 49% compared to a year ago.

“I think we have the best banking team in the La Crosse area,”said Merchants Bank — Onalaska President Steve Christiansen. “We spend time building relationships, and we always strive to treat people well. We have been pleased to help businesses who have needed our assistance, and we look forward to helping others who may not have experienced the Merchants Bank difference or who may not know of our capabilities.”

Nelson shared that the MFGI Board of Directors voted to reward its shareholders with a one cent per share dividend increase from 55 cents to 56 cents. Earlier this year, the MFGI Board increased the dividend from 53 cents to 55 cents per share. MFGI stock is currently trading at or near record highs, $48.75 per share as of earlier this week.

Nelson recently announced he will be retiring as of January 31, 2017. Winona Market President and Chief Banking Officer for the organization Greg Evans has been named as his successor.

“We are in a good position. I know that under Greg’s leadership and with the support of our teammates, we will continue to grow and be successful,”Nelson said.

MFGI owns 21 Merchants Bank locations, including Wisconsin locations in Onalaska and Eau Claire. Minnesota locations include 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. All banks are FDIC members and equal housing lenders.  Subject to credit approval. 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 450 employees and its shareholders, mostly individuals and families from southeastern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin.

Meet Rebekah Hicks, Electronic Banking Specialist

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Rebekah and her daughter, Amelia

Tell us about your banking career.

Rebekah: I started my banking career in 2006 in a large corporate bank. Since then I have a worked in a variety of financial institutions. I chose Merchants as my career home because the size is small enough to provide our customers with hometown service, yet large enough to be competitive in our region.

What is your top electronic banking tip?

Rebekah: Whether it is a business or a personal banking product, decide what is important to you as a consumer and find a bank that falls in line with those values. Merchants Bank is the bank that service built. Meaning we are driven by your fellow community members who work and play alongside you. We are your neighbors working for you to better our community.

What’s one thing your mom or dad taught you about money?

Rebekah: A lesson of financial responsibility that I remember my brother and I learning from our parents was budgeting. They presented this visually by having three separate jars for each of us. One was for spending, one was for saving and the other was for giving.

We set a dollar amount as a goal one summer to work towards with our savings, at the end of the summer we were rewarded for meeting our savings goal with a gaming console. The reward associated with our savings is a life lesson we both carried with us into adulthood and hope to share with our children.

If you could ring the bell at the New York Stock Exchange, who would you want to ring it with?

Rebekah: Getting to ring the bell at the New York Stock Exchange would be a unique and exciting experience I would like to share with my daughter. It sounds like it would make a great stop on a memorable family vacation also allowing for us to get to see all the other sites the city has to offer.

Besides money, what’s your favorite green thing?

Rebekah: Besides money, my favorite green thing is the next best thing to money – it’s my Merchants Bank Debit Card. I really enjoy the convenience of not having to carry cash for all my purchases.

To meet our entire Electronic Banking team, visit our website.

Meet Ashley Wagner, Electronic Banking Specialist at Merchants

How long have you been with Merchants?

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Ashley and her daughter, Everly

Ashley: I’ve been with Merchants Bank for 2 years.  Prior to working at Merchants, I didn’t have any banking experience. Over the past two years, I have really grown into my Electronic Banking position and enjoy what I do.  Technology is always changing and with that, my job is always changing as well.

What is your top electronic banking tip?

Ashley: Let us know when you’ll be traveling, especially if you’re traveling outside the country. That way we can document your trip and offer you advice on your debit card usage while traveling.

What’s one thing your mom or dad taught you about money?

Ashley: Try to save when you can, but also have a little fun with your money.

If you won the Powerball (currently estimated at $700 million) what’s the first thing you would buy?

Ashley: I would pay off my student loans, buy a new house and take a trip to Bora Bora.

Besides money, what’s your favorite green thing?

Ashley: Green Haribo gummy bears.

To meet our entire Electronic Banking team, visit our website.