Another ‘Merchants’ bank born

April 3, 2009
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Banks aren’t known for creative names. Three in Indiana—in Mooresville, Fairmount and Munster—include “Citizens” in their names. Three others have “Peoples.” Eight have “Community.” And don’t ask about “First.”

Now there’s another blurring of bank brands. Greensfork Township State Bank, a tiny bank north of Richmond, announced today that it has changed its name to Merchants Bank of Indiana.

This gets interesting when one recalls Greensfork bought Symphony Bank last year. Symphony is the Carmel startup that never made a profit, largely because its sole branch was so lavishly expensive. (Greensfork, by the way, was the most profitable bank in the state last year.)

You’ll also recall that Muncie-based First Merchants Corp. has operated in Hamilton County for several years, and last year expanded in the Indianapolis area in a big way by buying Lincoln Bancorp in Plainfield.

So, how does First Merchants feel about another “merchants” showing up on its turf?

First Merchants President Mike Rechin complains that regulators tell him the term Merchants is prevalent enough to allow Greensfork to use it. Now, Rechin, says, he’s consulting an attorney, but stopped short of threatening a lawsuit.

“Willfully creating customer confusion is unfortunate,” Rechin says.

No one at Merchants Bank would come to the phone to explain its strategy.

Maybe Greensfork is reaching back to the history bought to Symphony by some of Symphony’s executives. One, Otto Frenzel IV, is a son of the scion of the family that controlled the former Merchants National Bank in Indianapolis before it was acquired by National City, which last year was taken over by PNC.

Indianapolis brand expert Jim Walton thinks Symphony was a good name because it was unique. But Greensfork probably was looking for a recognizable brand, and Merchants is certainly that.

What do you think?
  • I feel this is a brand name problem and is worth looking into a lawsuit against Greensfork.
  • I agree with Jim. This will cause to much customer confusion and First Merchants should look into a lawsuit.
  • First Merchants was known as Merchants National until the (late '80's?) when it changed names to First Merchants. The reason for the change, deregulation led to confusion between the Indianapolis Merchants National and the Muncie Merchants National - customers complained. Give it time and this, too , will work itself out.

    Either that or First Merchants should just acquire them too and solve the problem themselves.
  • Symphony was associated with one of it's founding members, Jan Marten, up on tax evasion and tax fraud charges involving her (former?)
    JS Marten Jewelers , in Carmel. A criminal investigation, then arrest. Then a story was in the news that Greensfork was buying Symphony. So, more name change. Also Marten and her husband were on a Sec. Of State Press release this year, involving Dorothy-Geisler -Tragardh's alleged clean coal investment scam. Too much bad publicity I think, for a new bank. Just a civil suit, but who needs that bad publicity for a founding member ? Not in this climate.
  • What happened to the taxevasion, tax fraud case involving Jan Marten, founding member of Symphony Bank ? Also, she is a co-defendant in the clean coal scheme, with Geisler-Tragardh.

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  1. I think the poster was being sarcastic and only posting or making fun of what is usually posted on here about anything being built in BR or d'town for that matter.

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  3. So disappointed in WIBC. This is the last straw to lose a good local morning program. I used to be able to rely on WIBC to give me good local information, news, weather and traffic on my 45 minute commute.Two incidents when I needed local, accurate information regarding severe weather were the first signs I could not now rely on WIBC. I work weekend 12 hour nights for a downtown hospital. This past winter when we had the worst snowfall in my 50 years of life, I came home on a Sunday morning, went to sleep (because I was to go back in Sunday night for another 12 hour shift), and woke up around 1 p.m. to a house with no electricity. I keep an old battery powered radio around and turned on WIBC to see what was going on with the winter storm and the roads and the power outage. Sigh. Only policital stuff. Not even a break in to update on the winter storm warning. The second weather incident occurred when I was driving home during a severe thunderstorm a few months ago. I had already gotten a call from my husband that a tornado warning was just southwest of where I had been. I turned to WIBC to find out what direction the storm was headed so I could figure out a route home, only to find Rush on the air, and again, no breaking away from this stupidity to give me information. Thank God for my phone, which gave me the warning that I was driving in an area where a tornado was seen. Thanks for nothing WIBC. Good luck to you, Steve! We need more of you and not the politics of hatred that WIBC wants to shove at us. Good thing I have Satellite radio.

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