Dawn Stenberg Promoted to Assistant Vice President/Mortgage Lender

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Dawn Stenberg has been promoted to Assistant Vice President/Mortgage Lender at Merchants Bank in Winona, according to Sue Hovell, Director of Retail Banking Performance at Merchants Bank.

“This promotion recognizes Dawn for the leader that she already is here at Merchants,” Hovell said. “She has extensive knowledge of the mortgage process and has used that expertise to provide outstanding customer service to our clients.”

Stenberg started in banking as a teller at 16 years old. She started in the mortgage industry in 2008 and has been with Merchants Bank since 2012.

“I am honored and really appreciate the ongoing support I have received from Merchants as well as my co-workers,” Stenberg said. “I truly can’t imagine working anywhere else; the culture just aligns with my beliefs and personality, and allows me to serve my customers the way I do, which is the reason we’re all here.”

Stenberg also credits the entire mortgage team at Merchants Bank: “We have a tremendous mortgage team. Our knowledgeable processors, underwriters and closers all strive to provide a great customer service experience, both during and after the loan process. It’s just who we are.”

Merchants Bank has 21 locations, including Minnesota locations in Winona, Goodview, St. Charles, Goodview, Rochester, Caledonia, La Crescent, Spring Grove, Rushford, Lanesboro, Red Wing, Cannon Falls, Hampton as well as Twin Cities locations in Lakeville, Apple Valley, Cottage Grove, Hastings and Rosemount. Merchants has Wisconsin locations in Eau Claire and Onalaska. Merchants Bank was founded in 1875. Loans are subject to approval. Merchants Bank Equipment Finance, the company’s leasing arm, is based in the Twin Cities.

Meet Dawn Stenberg, Mortgage Lender and Home Loan Expert

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Dawn and her daughter in the kitchen at home.

Get to know Dawn Stenberg, Mortgage Lender at Merchants Bank in Winona.

When did you start your banking/lending career?

Dawn: I started in banking in 2002, and I’ve been in mortgage since 2008. I came to Merchants in 2012, and here I’ve been a mortgage coordinator, mortgage underwriter, and now a mortgage lender.

What is your best banking/borrowing tip?

Dawn: A question I get asked a lot is whether or not customers should close open credit card accounts. It actually makes more sense to keep accounts with a long, healthy history open. If you close accounts in good standing and then just have fairly new loans open, it actually can hurt your credit score. Of course, fraud is a concern too. The more accounts that are open the more difficult it is to keep track of them all, making you more vulnerable to fraud. It’s important to find the happy medium between keeping healthy accounts open while still being able to manage and monitor all of them.

What is something smart borrowers do?

Dawn: Something that makes the process easier for everyone is to consistently make all of your loan payments on time. It’s also great to see customers saving, even if it’s just a little bit from each paycheck. Anything is better than nothing, and over time the savings will grow and it’ll help you be comfortable in your home.

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

Dawn: Have a budget. It’s important to keep track of your finances to ensure you are not overspending and to stay on track with your financial goals. It can also help create healthy spending habits.

If you had $1,875,000 what is one FUN thing you’d do with the money?

Dawn: I would take a long extended vacation! Probably to Europe or New Zealand.

Picture your dream home. What is your favorite room and why?

Dawn: My favorite room is the kitchen; I love to cook. My favorite times are when my kids are helping me bake around the island. The kitchen for me is the focal point of the home – It’s where the family all gathers together.

Meet Ben Franko, Mortgage Lender and Home Loan Expert

Ben Franko, Mortgage Lender at Merchants Bank, and his son

Ben Franko, Mortgage Lender at Merchants Bank, and his son.

Get to know Ben Franko, Mortgage Lender at Merchants Bank in Eau Claire.

When did you start your banking/lending career?

Ben: I’ve been in banking since September 2005. I’ve worked in many positions on the retail side of the bank, such as a personal banker, customer service supervisory, branch manager, mortgage officer and mortgage sales manager. I started with Merchants on June 30, 2017 as a mortgage lender and I’m happy to use my experience in credit and customer service to help people get homes they could afford.

What is your best borrowing/banking tip?

Ben: My top home buying tip is always get pre-approved for a mortgage before you start the home buying or building process. It’s important to understand how the purchase you’re making will affect your budget.

What is something smart borrowers do?

Ben: This ties in with getting pre-approved for your mortgage: be prepared, know how your costs will interact. Just because you can afford a payment on paper, doesn’t mean that’s realistic. It’s a bad idea to stretch your budget; you want to be comfortable making that payment even when unforeseen expenses come up.

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

Ben: One of the things I was taught from a young age is you work very hard for your money, so spend and save wisely. It’s always good to avoid making impulse purchases. Picture your dream home.

What is your favorite room in your house and why?

Ben: I’m very fortunate to have my dream home, and my favorite room is my kitchen/sunroom. I love being in the kitchen cooking and entertaining. It was the most important feature when we were looking, so when we walked in we knew immediately we were home.

If you had $1,875,000, what is one FUN thing you’d do with the money?

Ben: I would go back to Europe and spend most of my time in Belgium and Holland where my family is from.

Arlene Schwerzler Joins Merchants Bank in Red Wing as a Mortgage Lender

Arlene Schwerzler, Mortgage Lender

Arlene Schwerzler has joined Merchants Bank in Red Wing as a Vice President and Mortgage Lender, according to Dan Massett, Regional President for Merchants Bank in Red Wing, Cannon Falls and Hampton.

Schwerzler is a familiar name and face to the Merchants Bank employees and many customers in Red Wing. As a long-time mortgage lender at Merchants Bank in Winona, Schwerzler served many customers in Red Wing.

“Many of my customers already live in Red Wing, and I’m lucky to have a strong referral network,” Schwerzler said. “I look forward to being in Red Wing every day and taking care of mortgages for my customers, the people referred to me and many new customers from start to finish.”

Schwerzler has been in banking for more than 30 years. She started as a Mortgage Lender at Merchants Bank in Winona in 1998 and also spent a short amount of time at Merchants Bank in Rochester. She has a loyal following.

“Certainly, Arlene has a great amount of experience and that helps to serve her customers, but what makes her stand apart from other lenders is her willingness to go the extra mile and to be there whenever her customers have questions,” Massett said. “Buying a home can be stressful, but Arlene takes that stress away.”

Merchants Bank offer a full-range of home mortgage products and is well known as a leader in the mortgage industry because of its commitment to integrity and service to its customers, making sure they are taken care of throughout the process. Another of Merchants Bank’s strengths is that it services its loans, which means that questions are answered by a Merchants Bank employee who lives in the area. Currently, Merchants Bank services more than $2.6 billion in home mortgage loans.

Merchants Bank has 21 locations, including Minnesota locations in Red Wing, Cannon Falls, Hampton, Winona, St. Charles, Goodview, Rochester, Caledonia, La Crescent, Spring Grove, Rushford, Lanesboro, 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. Merchants Bank was founded in 1875. Loans are subject to approval. Merchants Bank Equipment Finance, the company’s leasing arm, is based in the Twin Cities.

Ben Franko Joins Merchants Bank in Eau Claire as a Mortgage Lender

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Ben Franko, Mortgage Lender

Ben Franko has joined Merchants Bank in Eau Claire as a Mortgage Lender and Assistant Vice President, according to Larry Accola, President for Merchants Bank in Eau Claire.

“We’re excited to add Ben to our team. His knowledge and passion for our community, the Chippewa Valley and mortgage lending will make the experience easy for customers as he guides them through the mortgage loan process from start to finish and helps get them into the right home,” Accola said.

Franko has been serving customers throughout the area in a number of roles over the past 13 years, including more than nine years in mortgage lending, most recently with Wells Fargo.

“I believe the most important part of banking is the relationship between a banker and customer,” Franko said. “And the best place for a customer to develop that sort of relationship is in a true community bank like Merchants, where it’s clear the Bank puts its customers’ best interests at the forefront of what it does each and every day.”

One of Merchants Bank’s strengths is that it services its loans, which means that questions are answered by a Merchants Bank employee who lives in the area. Currently, Merchants Bank services more than $2.5 billion in mortgage loans.

A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Franko has been involved in the community and currently serves as President for the Community Table Board of Directors. Franko and his wife, Sonja, have a son, George, and a daughter, Madeline.

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. All banks are FDIC members and equal housing lenders. Loans are subject to approval. Twin Cities-based Merchants Bank Equipment Finance is also a division of Merchants Bank, N.A.

Jenna Bauer is now a Mortgage Lender at Merchants Bank in Hastings

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Jenna Bauer, Mortgage Lender

Already a familiar face to the customers at Merchants Bank in Hastings, Jenna Bauer has accepted a new role as a Mortgage Lender at Merchants, according to Merchants Bank in Hastings President Bruce Goblirsch.

Bauer has been with Merchants for six years, working with customers as both a Customer Service Representative and a Lead Teller.

“Jenna understands and is committed to our customers,” Goblirsch said. “They already know how good she is at helping them get what is best for their banking needs. Her new mortgage customers will find that out as well.”

Bauer said knowing the Hastings customers and the Hastings market is a bonus to her as she starts as a Mortgage Lender.

“I’m looking forward to helping my current and my new customers in a different way, working with them to get into the home they want and fitting them with the best mortgage to meet their needs,” Bauer said. “I want them to know that I’ll be there for them from start to finish.”

Long-time Hastings Mortgage Lender John Aarness is retiring at the end of June.

Merchants Bank Twin Cities locations include Hastings, Apple Valley, Cottage Grove, Lakeville and Rosemount. Merchants Bank has 21 locations in southeastern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin, including Minnesota locations in 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. Subject to approval. Twin Cities-based Merchants Bank Equipment Finance is a division of Merchants Bank, N.A.

Julie Augedahl Joins Merchants Bank in Caledonia and Spring Grove as a Mortgage Lender

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Julie Augedahl, Mortgage Lender

Julie Augedahl has joined Merchants Bank in Caledonia and Spring Grove as a mortgage lender, according to Matt Schuldt, Market President for Merchants Bank in Caledonia and Spring Grove.

“Julie is coming back to work in her hometown, and I think that’s something we’re all excited about,” Schuldt said. “Her knowledge as a Caledonia native, and her passion for building community will help make her an outstanding mortgage lender.”

With nearly 10 years of experience in personal banking and lending in Wisconsin and Minnesota, Augedahl said she’s looking forward to helping area residents through the mortgage process from start to finish.

“I think it’s important for my customers that I know them, and if I don’t know them, I may know their families. It’s a great place to start a long-term banking relationship,” Augedahl said. “I’m very excited to put my service-first attitude to work for everyone who calls this area home.”

Augedahl volunteers for the Caledonia Founders Day Committee and in the past has volunteered as a volleyball coach for the Caledonia High School varsity and junior varsity teams. Augedahl has a General Education degree from Rochester Community College and Business Management Degree from Winona Technical College.

Augedahl lives in Caledonia with her husband, Kyle, their 3-year-old son, Grayson, and 1-year-old daughter, Vienna.