F&M Bank to undergo an expansive remodeling project

Photo by Tucker Henderson, contributed
Farmers and Merchants State Bank will undergo an expansive interior remodeling project. The bank will continue to be open throughout the remodeling project, which could begin within the next month.

By Tucker Henderson


Farmers and Merchants State Bank in New York Mills will be receiving a new look in the coming month as the lobby and drive-up portions of the building will be renovated.

“It will have a new, more open look,” said President Nick Roder. “Our teller line will be completely different. Right now, we have five spots available, we’re going to end up having two basic teller desks that are larger and available to sit at, or if you want to stand and do your teller transactions, you can do that as well.”

During the past 20 years, the banking industry has had to keep up with the ever-changing technological advancements as well as societal patterns. When the COVID-19 pandemic closed the bank’s lobby temporarily, it created a foot traffic pattern that wasn’t as temporary.

“With Covid, we had closed our lobby, so a lot of our traffic shifted to the drive-up area,” explained Roder. “It has shifted back a little bit, but most of our traffic is still through the drive-up area. We’re trying to update that, offer some different services for people to do things either by themselves, or with our new tube system which will have video monitors, you’ll be talking to somebody-face to face.”

The new updates shouldn’t frustrate those who prefer the traditional teller transactions, however, as there will still be options for those who enjoy the more personal approach.

“We will still offer the personal touch of regular tellers,” assured Roder. “It’s been since 2009 when we had our last remodel, so we’re going to try and give it a new facelift.”

The idea for a renovation started in January of 2022 after the main lobby was again available for customer use and bank employees started to see that the shift in foot-traffic was a substantial one. Since then, they’ve been making plans with local interior designer Sarah Carlson of Theisen Design Studios to maintain their welcoming atmosphere, while providing a new way to serve customers.

“Theisen Design is doing most of the designing,” said Roder. “We’re also looking for a sculpture, which we’ve engaged the Cultural Center to do a request for proposals, so we’ve had numerous sculptors come in to talk to us about what we’re going to do. We’re trying to get somebody local to add that local flavor, that’ll be something that is going to be new as well.”

Roder said he is excited to see the final design come to fruition.

“Sarah Carlson has been awesome to work with,” said Roder. “She loves what she’s doing and it’s been great. It’ll have a new look and I’m excited for it. It’s time for a little bit of an update to things.”

Carlson is a native of NY Mills and has operated Theisen Design Studios for over 10 years in the area. Her involvement in the project also has a bit of a personal connection as her third great grandfather, John Perala, was a charter member of the bank in 1916 when it was founded.

“Anyone who banks with Farmers and Merchants already knows this, but the team there is just so easy going and gracious to work with,” said Carlson. “They really focused on staff needs behind the scenes in the employee areas of the remodel plans and made decisions based on what was best for the employees work environment. One of my favorite elements of the plan is the fact that in the public area of the lobby they made a commitment to sourcing a unique art piece to be the center of the lounge. I think it’s going to be such a great anchor piece for the lobby and I can’t wait to see who they partner with and what the artist comes up with for that piece.”

Pettow Construction will begin work on the business place starting March 17 and the affected areas will be the drive-up and walk-up areas, as well as the night deposit.

“During that time, our lobby hours are going to change from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to accommodate all of our customers that use those features,” said Roder. “We ask patience while we get our new look. It will be done in two phases, our drive-up will be our first phase, followed by our lobby area.”

The walk-up feature on the south side of the building will be permanently removed as it makes way for the updated drive-up area. A training area is also planned to provide community members with financial literacy services in the future.

“We’re going to try, maybe not immediately, but to have some different trainings and market those to the public as well as the school,” said Roder. “This is how you go about applying for a car loan or these are the steps you want to take to ensure a smooth transition if you’re looking at buying a house sometime—just trying to educate people about finances in general and just offering that as another service of the bank.”