Company Update from CEO Greg Evans - November 2023

News | 11.17.2023
Thank you for your business!
In today’s world of digital banking utility, we don’t see our customers with the frequency that we once did, and, perhaps, don’t find ways to say thank you enough. Please know that the sentiment is heartfelt. Your loyalty as a Merchants customer is not something we take for granted. We know we must cultivate that each day by working hard to earn your continued trust and confidence. 
At Merchants, we do our very best to maintain balanced focus in our service and quality commitment to four stakeholder groups:  Customers… Employees… Shareholders… Communities. There’s total interdependency of the four stakeholder groups as we strive to meet the expectations of each one. That said, it’s obvious that if we don’t have loyal customers who are truly pleased with the solutions we offer and the customer service that drives the client experience with our Bank, we can’t meet the needs of the other stakeholder groups.
I’m very proud of the team of difference-makers I get the opportunity to work with. It’s an outstanding mix of both long-tenured teammates and new, young talent that brings fresh energy and new perspectives to the business. When I started here at Merchants in 1989, we had fewer than 100 employees. Today, because of our consistently strong business growth and performance, we have more than 400 across 23 branches and Merchants Bank Equipment Finance, our equipment finance division. What we have enjoyed as employees in form of job stability, professional development and career opportunity does not happen without a strong and growing customer base. On behalf of all of us, thank you for your business.
When Merchants was founded and capitalized in 1875, it was done so not based on the wealth of one family, but with contributions from a broader group of Winona business leaders. For our rich history of 148 years, we have mostly been… and proudly so…  a community-owned bank. We have approximately 750 shareholders. Typically, the ownership of Merchants stock has transferred from one family generation to the next. Employees also own 18% of the Company through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan. Most of the other larger shareholders are local business leaders. Based on our continued strong performance, we just declared a 9% increase to $.36/share in the semiannual dividend that will be paid to Shareholders in December. We have not missed or lowered a dividend payment since we began paying one more than 80 years ago. The continued steady appreciation of the value of ownership in the Company would not be possible without continued retention and growth of our customer base. On behalf of our Shareholders, thank you for your business.
Community banking is a wonderful and rewarding profession. At Merchants, we truly embrace a philosophy that when our communities thrive and prosper, we stand to benefit in the form of continued growth and performance. That’s one of the fundamental reasons for our commitment to give generously in every community we have the privilege to serve. In September, as part of the Minnesota Bankers Association Community Impact month, we had extraordinary employee volunteer involvement in several different service projects in Caledonia, Cannon Falls, Goodview, La Crescent, Lakeville, Lanesboro, Onalaska, Red Wing, Rochester, Rushford, St. Charles and Winona. Next month, we will coordinate our 35th annual “10 Days of Giving” food drive to help a variety of different food shelf programs throughout our service footprint. Without the loyalty of our customers, the hundreds of thousands of dollars we give to worthy causes that contribute to the vitality of our communities would not be possible. On behalf of our communities, thank you for your business.  
In closing, I will share that Thanksgiving happens to be my favorite holiday. For me, it’s more relaxed and far less commercialized than Christmas. I love the food, the wine, the opportunity to cook, the football, and the warmth of being surrounded by family in a packed house. The holiday makes me pause and take inventory of the extraordinary blessings in my life. It’s a day that brings me great joy. 
I have much to be thankful for. Included is the purpose of the work that I have the privilege to perform as the leader of a mission-focused company contributing to the fulfillment of hopes and dreams of our customers and communities. It’s my sincere hope that we will continue to earn your trust, confidence and loyalty. It’s a privilege to be favored with your business and I hope you never feel like we take it for granted.
Thank you for your business. And happy holidays! 

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