Merchants’ Second Quarter Earnings Report Shows Stable Performance and Continued COVID-19 Relief Assistance

Greg Evans, President & CEO

Merchants Financial Group, Inc. (MFGI) has announced financial results for the second quarter and details about COVID-19 assistance provided to its customers, according to MFGI President & CEO Gregory M. Evans.

Second quarter earnings of $8,442,992 were behind MFGI’s 2020 plan by $346,298 and behind 2019 mid-year results by $484,989. June earnings were profitable for MFGI even though the Company reversed $4 million out of income in the form of additional Allowance for Loan/Lease Loss Reserves as a precautionary measure to cover potential loan risk as the challenging economic situation continues to unfold.

“Our profitable performance through two quarters is a source of pride for our extraordinary employee team, which has been intensely focused on assisting our customers and communities experiencing hardship due to the COVID pandemic,” said Evans. “Most gratifying is the feedback I’ve received from clients who are appreciative of how our bankers have been available to them in serving as trusted advisors at this difficult time.”

Since March, Merchants has provided relief to more than 1,300 consumer and business loan customers in good standing in the form of loan payment deferment programs across all product categories. The Bank continues to assist business customers across its footprint with Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) financing through the Small Business Administration and will be accepting applications through the August 8, 2020 deadline. Merchants has been one of Minnesota’s PPP banking leaders, originating more than 1,500 loans with total volume of approximately $200 million. In addition, Merchants reported a 16.1% increase in deposits and origination volume of $478 million of residential mortgage loans through the first half of the year, as customers take advantage of the current interest rate environment.

“We want our customers and communities to know that Merchants will continue to be a source of assistance for those hit hardest by the pandemic and that we take our responsibility as a community bank seriously. We’re here to be your financial partner as you navigate challenges in the coming months,” Evans noted.

The ownership of Merchants Financial Group, Inc. is made up of its more than 440 employees and its shareholders, mostly individuals and families from southeastern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin.

Merchants Bank is a full service community bank with 21 bank locations in southeastern Minnesota, two bank locations in west-central Wisconsin and a leasing division, Merchants Bank Equipment Finance, in Edina. Headquartered in Winona, MN, MFGI has more than $2.1 billion in assets. Merchants was founded in 1875.

Merchants’ Strength Allows for Dividend Declaration, COVID-19 Relief Initiatives

Greg Evans, President & CEO

Merchants Financial Group, Inc. (MFGI) has announced financial results for the first quarter and a dividend payment to shareholders, according to MFGI President & CEO Gregory M. Evans.

As a result of continued strong performance, the MFGI Board of Directors authorized a semiannual dividend of 75 cents per share to shareholders during its April meeting. Dividends will be paid in June to shareholders of record as of May 22. First quarter earnings of $3,806,000 were slightly behind MFGI’s 2020 plan, but ahead of 2019 first quarter performance.

“While our earnings for the first quarter of the year were solid, these results seem insignificant when we consider the current state of the world and the challenges many of our customers and communities are facing,” said Evans. “It’s evident that the banking industry will also face extraordinary challenges going forward, but we will be absolutely unwavering in our ongoing commitment to be a trusted advisor for our clients and a leader in our communities as we face the upcoming challenges together. Our dividend declaration is representative of strength and resolve.”

Merchants has committed to assisting customers experiencing financial hardship due to the pandemic through several initiatives, including loan payment deferral relief on many business, personal and mortgage loans, and emergency business funds through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Through the first wave of PPP, the Small Business Administration approved 1,050 PPP loans through Merchants with funds totaling approximately $200 million. While Bank customers were the priority throughout the first round of funding, Merchants anticipates being able to accommodate some non-customer requests during the awaited second round.

In addition to these relief programs, Merchants has also contributed to several community funds to assist individuals and businesses affected, including a $50,000 donation to the Winona Port Authority Emergency Loan Fund.

For additional information on financial relief options available through the CARES Act, other assistance programs and updates regarding contribution deadlines and distribution requirements for retirement accounts, visit www.merchantsbank.com/personalresources.

Merchants Bank is a full service community bank with 19 bank locations in southeastern Minnesota, two bank locations in west-central Wisconsin and a leasing division, Merchants Bank Equipment Finance, in Edina. MFGI also owns the First National Bank of Northfield, with two banking offices in Northfield and a loan production office in Bloomington, MN. Headquartered in Winona, MN, MFGI has more than $2.1 billion in assets. Merchants was founded in 1875.

Merchants Financial Group, Inc. is a publicly-traded company. Ownership is made up of its more than 440 employees and mostly individuals and families from southeastern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin.

Merchants Financial Group, Inc Reports Year to Shareholders and Appoints Directors to Its Board

Greg Evans, President & CEO

During its annual meeting, which was held virtually with participation of shareholders by phone on Thursday, April 2, Merchants Financial Group, Inc. (MFGI), reported strong 2019 financial results and shareholders re-elected two Directors and elected one new Director to the MFGI Board.

MFGI formally reported net income of $19,767,215 for 2019, a 4.7% increase over 2018 earnings. There was business growth on both sides of the Company’s balance sheet with year-end 2019 total deposits of $1.8 billion and total loans/leases of $1.7 billion. MFGI ended 2019 with $2.1 billion in consolidated assets, making Merchants the fifth largest banking organization chartered in the state of Minnesota.

“Given current events impacting all of us, last year seems like a very, very long time ago,” said Gregory M. Evans, MFGI President & Chief Executive Officer. “We certainly are proud of our continued business growth and performance of record last year, but our entire focus right now is placed on taking care of our friends and neighbors, and being here as a trusted advisor for our customers and communities.”

Re-elected to three-year terms as Directors were: Gregory M. Evans, President & CEO for MFGI and Merchants Bank and Richard T. Lommen, Owner/Operator & President for Courtesy Corporation. Elected as a new member of the Board of Directors to a three-year term was Bradley J. Peterson, Chairman & Chief Acquisition Officer for Mississippi Welders Supply. Peterson has served on the Merchants Bank, N.A., Charter Board since April of 2019.

At the meeting retiring Directors Ken Mogren and Mike Cunningham were recognized. Mogren, retired President of Winona Agency (now WA Group), has provided Board leadership for the MFGI and Merchants Bank Charter Boards for more than 15 years. Mike Cunningham, Partner of La Crescent Property Ventures, LLC and former CEO/Owner of The Board Store Furniture and Home Improvements, served on the Merchants Bank Charter Board for five years and retired in 2019 from the MFGI Board after 15 years of service.

The ownership of Merchants Financial Group is made up of it’s more than 480 employees and shareholders, mostly individuals and families from southeastern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin.

Merchants Bank is a full service community bank with 19 bank locations in southeastern Minnesota, two bank locations in west-central Wisconsin and a leasing division, Merchants Bank Equipment Finance, in Edina. As the parent company for Merchants Bank, Merchants Financial Group, Inc. (MFGI) also owns the First National Bank of Northfield, with two banking offices in Northfield and a loan production office in Bloomington, MN. Headquartered in Winona, MN, MFGI has more than $2.1 billion in assets. Merchants was founded in 1875.

Merchants Financial Group, Inc Announces Earnings of $8.93 Million through Second Quarter of 2019

Greg Evans, President & CEO

Merchants Financial Group, Inc. (MFGI) announced robust business growth and year-to-date net income of $8.93 million through the end of the second quarter, according to MFGI President & CEO Gregory M. Evans.

Year-over-year loan growth for the Winona-based Company was $111.3 million (8.2%) and deposit growth was a healthy $95.8 million (6.9%)

“As usual our strong performance during the first half of the year has resulted from a total team effort, with meaningful contributions coming from business growth throughout our footprint,” said Evans. “I’m tremendously proud of our entire banking team. We continue to experience strong organic growth because of bankers who stand out as difference makers in a very competitive environment.”

Net income is ahead of MFGI’s plan for 2019 by $1.1 million, but just slightly behind last year’s earnings pace by $206,944. One impact on year-over-year earnings was a necessary contribution of an additional $543,000 in loan loss reserve put aside to cushion against possible future loan stress. Contributing to the overall positive performance, three of the Bank’s four regions and Secondary Market Mortgage operation exceeded their respective income forecasts through the first six months of 2019.

“It’s our privilege to help so many individuals and families achieve their dream of home ownership,” noted Evans. “Many customers have also benefitted from the current low rate environment and reduced their mortgage payments by refinancing.”

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.

Merchants Bank is a full service community bank with 21 branches in southeastern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin. Headquartered in Winona, MN, the Bank has more than $1.76 billion in assets and was founded in 1875. Loans are subject to credit approval.

Shareholder Story: Karen Hawkinson on behalf of Francis Zeches

ShareholderStories-KarenHawkinson

Francis (center) pictured with his children and their spouses.

We are proud to be locally owned. At our Annual Shareholder meeting this year, we asked our shareholders how they became part of the Merchants family.

Karen shares her story:

“My story with Merchants Bank is really my dad’s story that has been passed on to me.  It is a story that started a very long time ago.  Since he is no longer here to share it, I will do my best to tell it on his behalf.

A life long businessman in Winona, there were times in building his business that my dad needed loans.  When another Winona bank at which he had always banked did not grant his request, he went to Merchants Bank and there he found willing partners.  It was the beginning of a very long relationship built on trust and mutual respect.  A friendship developed with long ago Bank President Gil Grabow.  After a round of golf in early June 1967, he convinced my father to purchase Merchants stock.  My dad became a ready stockholder and never looked back.  Over the years you could not find a more ardent supporter of the bank or a prouder stockholder.  On two separate occasions, he gifted my husband and me with some of his Merchants stock.  There was always a caveat with that gift –“don’t ever sell this stock without talking to me first”.  Needless to say, we didn’t sell that stock because we understood that its value was much greater than the stated book value.

My dad continued to invest and the bank stock continued to grow, splitting several times over the course of his ownership.  As he neared the end of his life and was carefully planning his trust, he derived great pleasure in knowing he would be passing on stock in such a fine institution to my brother and me.  My dad was a proud Minnesotan, and even prouder member of the Winona community, so it is no surprise that he took it quite personally that the very successful bank in which he had invested, had its origin in his hometown.

My Merchants stock represents so much more than the gift of a wise investment.  While I enthusiastically welcome the growing dividends, it is an investment, that like my dad, I take quite personally. His advice to “never sell that stock”still resonates in my mind.  The bank and its stock –represent all that my dad found important in life –good value, a solid business plan, relationships built on trust and mutual respect and a sense of community pride.  Being a stockholder allows me to still be a part of the community in which I was raised and to share in the continued richness of that environment.”

-Karen Hawkinson, the daughter of Francis Zeches.

Merchants Financial Group, Inc Reports Year to Shareholders and Appoints Directors to Its Board

Greg Evans, President & CEO
During its annual meeting on Thursday, April 4, Merchants Financial Group, Inc. (MFGI) reported strong 2018 financial results, Shareholders re-elected two Directors and elected one new Director to the MFGI Board.

MFGI formally reported net income of $18,887,308 for 2018. Pre-tax earnings were up 11.9% as compared to 2017. There was business growth on both sides of the Company’s balance sheet with year-end 2018 total deposits of $1.435 billion and total loans/leases of $1.424 billion. MFGI ended 2018 with $1.756 billion in consolidated assets, making Merchants the fifth largest banking organization chartered in the state of Minnesota.

“Our Board of Directors helps ensure the Merchants organization stays true to our community banking roots while continuing to provide value to our shareholders. Their guidance, along with the hard work of our employees and the support of our customers and the communities we serve, is what helps us achieve steady business growth and consistently strong earnings performance year after year,” said Gregory M. Evans, MFGI President & Chief Executive Officer.

Re-elected to three-year terms as Directors were: Scott K. Biesanz, Chairman of Goodson Manufacturing Company and James A. Trenda, Founder/Owner/President of CP Advisors, LLC. Elected as a new member of the Board of Directors to a three-year term was John H. Killen, President/CEO of Wincraft, Inc,. Killen has served on the Merchants Bank, N.A., Charter Board since April of 2018.

At the meeting retiring MFGI Director Mike Cunningham was recognized for more than 10 years of service. Mike Cunningham, Partner of La Crescent Property Ventures, LLC and Former CEO/Owner of The Board Store Furniture and Home Improvements, will continue to serve on the Merchants Bank Charter Board and the Bank’s Local Advisory Boards for Onalaska/LaCrescent.

Featured speakers during the meeting included Evans; Susan M. Savat, Chief Financial Officer; Wendy Cagle, Loan Review Officer; and Andrew Guzzo Regional President for Winona and the Southern half of the Company’s service footprint.

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.

Merchants Bank is a full service community bank with 21 branches in southeastern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin. Headquartered in Winona, MN, the Bank has more than $1.75 billion in assets and was founded in 1875.

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.