B.J. Hamilton Joins Merchants Bank as an Assistant Vice President/Mortgage Lender

B.J. Hamilton has joined Merchants Bank in La Crescent as an Assistant Vice President/Mortgage Lender, according to Steve Christiansen, Merchants Bank President in La Crescent and Onalaska.

“B.J. has built a strong following in our area because of his commitment to meeting and exceeding the needs of his customers,” Christiansen said. “Our customers will value his knowledge of lending and benefit from his ability to make sure their needs are taken care of from start to finish.”

Hamilton had been a mortgage lender at Altra since 2013. Before that, he spent nearly ten years in Montana, both working in home lending for Montana banks and working as a project manager for a construction company.

“Merchants has impressed me since I moved to the Coulee Region. Merchants has a great reputation for taking care of its customers, and it offers a full range of mortgage products. I’m especially excited for my customers who are considering building because of our 5 percent down construction loan. That can really help them get started building right away,” Hamilton said. “Plus, I had a former co-worker that was so happy when she made the move to Merchants that I had to consider it when an opportunity was available.”

Hamilton is involved in the area. He is a member of the La Crosse Area Builders Association and the La Crosse Area Realtors Association. He is a former member of the Great Rivers United Way Funds Distribution Committee and a former Board member of the St. Thomas Child and Family Center in Great Falls, Montana.

Merchants Bank has 21 locations, including its location in La Crescent, and other Minnesota locations in Winona, St. Charles, 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 Wisconsin locations in Eau Claire and Onalaska. Loans are subject to approval. Twin Cities-based Merchants Bank Equipment Finance is also a division of Merchants Bank, N.A.

Meet Mike Stangl, Mortgage Lender and Home Loan Expert

 

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Mike spending time enjoying one of his favorite things – the outdoors.

 

Get to know Mike Stangl, Mortgage Lender at Merchants Bank in La Crescent.

When did you start your banking career?

Mike: I started in 2001 in my hometown of Marshfield as a personal banker. Then I became an assistant branch manager and then a branch manager as well as consumer lender. I became a mortgage lender in 2007 and have been working with customers to get them into homes they love ever since.

What is your best mortgage tip?

Mike: Be prepared. When you start thinking you want to buy a house, sit down with a lender to figure out your finances and find out what your budget is. Buying a house is exciting, and I’m here to make sure you’re looking in a price range you can feel comfortable with not only during your house hunt, but after the purchase as well.

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

Mike: Anything I learned about keeping track of my finances my mom taught me. She did tax preparation and accounting, and is always meticulous about tracking all transactions and writing it all down. I’ve definitely inherited that. I balance my checkbook daily. It has served me well and it’s a helpful hint I try to pass on to my clients too.

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

Mike: I would splurge on some big land to run around on. I love being outside: hunting, four-wheeling, we also do some gardening, so it would be fun to have plenty of space to do all of that. Uga Mae, our dog, would probably like it too.

Besides money, what’s your favorite green thing?

Mike: Green beer! Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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

Mike: I require a really nice shower and kitchen. I do all the cooking, so I like to have a nice, capable space to spend that time in.

Meet Arlene Schwerzler, Mortgage Lender and Home Loan Expert

Arlene Schwerzler, Mortgage LenderGet to know Arlene Schwerzler, Mortgage Lender at Merchants Bank in Red Wing.

When did you start your banking career?

Arlene: I started banking a very long time ago. Thirty-two years. I’ve been a teller, personal loan assistant, personal banker, branch manager and mortgage lender. I started at Merchants 20 years ago, where I’ve been a mortgage lender. I’ve stayed a mortgage lender for so long because I love it. I don’t want to do anything else; it’s extremely rewarding.

What is your best banking tip?

Arlene: There are so many people involved in a real estate transaction, but the key to a successful transaction is spending time with a lender first. We’re here to help you understand all the moving parts of the process, and talk about what resources are available to you.

I am dedicated to helping customers make good decisions regarding this significant financial commitment. We’ll talk about the rewards, the risks, and where you are in relation to where you want to be. It’s important that your lender understands your unique situation.

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

Arlene: My parents were great role models, and although it isn’t specific to money, they taught me that hard work pays off and to always do the right thing, even if it means not winning. Honesty truly is the best policy.

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

Arlene: I would most definitely take care of my kids, family and friends. If I can make someone else’s life easier or happier, that’d be the most fun I could have!

Besides money, what’s your favorite green thing?

Arlene: Plants – I love the outdoors, my garden and being outside.

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

Arlene: It’s not really a room, but my favorite feature of a home would be gigantic windows. I love being able to see the beauty of the outdoors, even when I’m inside.

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 Mike Grove, President of Merchants Bank in Red Wing.

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,” Grove 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.