Since we opened our doors in 1921, Merchants National Bank ("Merchants") has upheld the same standards of service, stability, and values that have made it successful. Merchants National Bank's core values have always been the same:
- Superior Customer Service
- Relationship Oriented
- Local and Independent
- Stable, Safe, and Secure
Our independence is one of the bank’s greatest strengths, co-founder H.H. Robinson said, “Don’t worry about what the other banks are doing. Do what you do best.” Few banks can equal our standards of service. There is no absentee decision-making, no getting lost in voice mail, no bureaucratic hurdles. When you have questions, you can talk to someone with answers. It’s the way banking should be.
We have believed in and lived by those core values for over 96 years, and our commitment to those values will never change. Let us prove it to you! Come experience the Merchants National Bank difference!
Merchants is the oldest locally owned and operated bank in Sacramento. Merchants has been operating under the same charter for 97 years. Merchants National Bank is, as the name proclaims, a national bank which is chartered through the Comptroller of the Currency in Washington D. C. The charter was granted November 19, 1920 to J. H. Stephens, president, along with a group of local bankers and businessmen with additional financial backing from millionaire Norman De Vaux (a shareholder in the General Motors Company). The bank opened with resources over $700,000 and eight months later had $1.6 million which indicated both ample funding and sound growth.
The other bank directors from Sacramento included Dr. Gustave Wilson a physician, Charles J. Heeseman clothier, Peter J. Huth agriculturist and manager of the Runion Estate (on the river below Sacramento), T. J. Garvey Vice President and General Manager of California State Rice Milling Co., R. H. Black local manager of a grocery chain, Lewis Moreing a rancher and owner of the Sacramento Baseball Club, and E. L. Adams a rancher from Chico. (Merchants ended up owning Sacramento's baseball club, the Solons, from 1921 into the 1930s).
In 1901 Sacramento had 5 banks listed in the city directory plus Sacramento Bank, a savings and loan. The banks represented in the 1921 directory along with Merchants National Bank include the Bank of Italy (S.F.), California National Bank and California Trust and Savings Bank who were merging, Capital National Bank, Citizens Bank of Sacramento, Farmers and Mechanics Bank, the National Bank of D. O. Mills and Co., Nippon Bank, the Peoples Bank, and Sacramento San Joaquin Bank.
By the 1949 directory the California National Bank of Sacramento was being purchased by a San Francisco bank leaving Merchants National Bank as Sacramento's oldest surviving bank.
Merchants was originally envisioned as a bank that would loan funds for "a series of big industrial projects" as De Vaux noted in a Sacramento Bee article from 1921. In scanning the minutes of the board from that era you will find the names of some of the enduring giants of commerce in the U. S. Since these companies are still doing business, it can be noted that one was a major catalog retailer (until recently dropping the catalog business) and another continues as one of the major producers of large electrical equipment based in San Francisco. That a small bank in a town of under 100,000 population was doing business with national sized corporations is a testament to having the good connections and sufficient backing Mr. De Vaux contributed.
Merchants remained solvent during the depression, enough so that in 1932 it lent (along with Capital National) funds to the City of Sacramento to cover payroll until taxes could be collected to cover the expenses. The close connection to the city offices continued as J. H. Stephens was city treasurer for a number of years and the treasurer's offices were located in the Merchants National Bank building for 14 years.