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North Dakota Entrepreneur Hall of Fame
 
 
 
image: george bull George Bull and his partners, George Clifford and Emery Mapes, operated the Diamond Flour Mill in Grand Forks, in the late 1880s. The Panic of 1893 left the partners in a desperate financial state. Thomas Amidon, the head miller, convinced the partners to produce a breakfast porridge made from farina (the whitest part of the wheat). Cream of Wheat was born, and by 1897, demand exceeded the production capacity of the Diamond Flour Mill and the company was moved to Minneapolis. George Bull died prematurely in 1897; however, his son, Daniel, led the Cream of Wheat Corporation from 1919 to 1960, when his grandson, David, became CEO. Cream of Wheat, "America’s Favorite Hot Breakfast Cereal," was acquired by the National Biscuit Company (NABISCO) in 1962 and David was named Vice President of the company.
George Bull
Cream of Wheat
Year Inducted: 1986
 
 
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image: Thomas Campbell Thomas D. Campbell, the "Wheat King," was the owner of the world’s largest privately owned wheat farm and an authority on mechanized agriculture. He applied methods which had been proven successful in the development of American industry to farming while operating a 95,000 acre farm near Hardin, Montana, and a 448,000 acre ranch near Albuquerque, New Mexico, as well as the family farm near Grand Forks. He was UND’s first mechanical engineering graduate (1904), going on to receive a master’s degree in engineering from Cornell University. He was a Brigadier General during World War II and was decorated for inventing the "fire bomb" using petroleum jelly. He married Bess McBride Bull, daughter of George Bull and a stepdaughter of UND President Webster Merrifield, in 1906. They had four children. He passed away in California in 1966.

Thomas D. Campbell
Wheat King

Year Inducted: 1986
 
 
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image: Andrew Freeman Andrew Freeman, rural electric pioneer, was the co-founder and general manager of Minnkota Power Cooperative from 1940 to 1982. He made Minnkota a utility leader by having the lowest cost electrical operating facility in the nation through innovation in mine-mouth lignite generating plants, dual heating, and load management with off-peak rates. He championed the formation of the Area Power Conference and power-sharing agreement with Canadian power companies. He was the inventor of the Freeman Headbolt Heater in 1947, manufactured by Five Star Manufacturing of which he was president. He was born in 1909 in Upham, North Dakota, and died in 1996 in Grand Forks.

Andrew Freeman
Rural Electric Pioneer
Year Inducted: 1987
 
 
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image: Edward G. Melroe Edward G. Melroe was North Dakota’s first major manufacturer. With his four sons he founded the Melroe Co. in 1946 to manufacture an improved windrow pickup that is still in production today. His inventive nature surfaced early, and he built his first "Lester Tractor" in 1918. He often modified his farm equipment to make it work more effectively, and sold his first patent for a windrow pickup to John Deere in 1939. Son-in-law, Gene Dahl, joined the company in 1950. Today the Melroe Co. markets windrow pickups, harroweeders, and the Bobcat® loader, and are the largest manufacturer in North Dakota employing more than 1,500 people. E. G. Melroe died in 1955.

E. G. Melroe
Prairie Industrialist
Year Inducted: 1987
 
 
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image: Harold Schafer Harold Schafer founded the Gold Seal Co. in 1942, which became one of North Dakota’s largest home-owned enterprises. Glass Wax, Mr. Bubble, and Snowy Bleach all became sensational sales successes. The company was sold to Airwick Industries in 1986. In 1960, Harold Schafer began making substantial investments in Medora, North Dakota, to preserve the historical significance of the old cattle town, and today it is North Dakota’s top tourism attraction. A well-known philanthropist, Harold Schafer divides his time between homes in North Dakota and Florida.

Harold Schafer
Gold Seal

Year Inducted: 1987
 
 
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image: Gilmore T. Schjeldahl Gilmore T. Schjeldahl founded five companies in the Minneapolis area: Sheldahl, Inc., Herb-Shelly, Inc., Gil-Tech Development, Plastic Netting Machine Company, and the Cathedyne Corporation. A native of Northwood, North Dakota, Schjeldahl has made significant improvements to the world in the areas of plastics, packaging, space communications, coronary catheters, electronic materials and other related products. His inventions include the Echo satellite balloon, the air sickness bag for Northwest Airlines, and bag-making machines for the packing industry. He attended North Dakota State School of Science and North Dakota State University. He is the recipient of honorary degrees from NDSU and UND.
Gilmore T. Schjeldahl
Plastics & Electronics
Pioneer

Year Inducted: 1988
 
 
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image: Patrick Haggerty Patrick Haggerty, a native of Harvey, North Dakota, co-founded Texas Instruments in 1950. He was elected Executive Vice President in 1951, President in 1958, and Chairman of the Board in 1966. Under his leadership, TI grew into one of the nation’s electronic and high-tech giants. TI’s development of compact electronic technologies in semiconductors and integrated circuits placed the company in a national leadership position in the development of pocket radios, personal calculators, digital watches, and home computers. Fortune Magazine called him "a star example of the engineer-executive breed." He passed away in 1980.

Patrick Haggerty
Texas Instruments
Year Inducted: 1988
 
 
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image: C.Earl  Branick C. Earl Branick founded Branick Industries of Fargo in 1917 after working for Firestone and B. F. Goodrich. A Dickinson, ND, native, Branick was the holder of 160 patents and manufactured over 35 different types of tire-handling equipment. He was North Dakota’s first international marketer of manufactured products. The company was sold to Applied Power, Inc. of Milwaukee in 1968. Branick remained active in a consulting and development capacity until his death in 1977.

C. Earl Branick
Branic Industries
Year Inducted: 1988
 
 
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image: Fred Nash Fred P. Nash founded the Nash-Finch Co. in Devils Lake, Dakota Territory, in 1885 with his brothers Edgar and Willis. Fire destroyed their Devils Lake store in 1887, and they reopened in Grand Forks. After 35 years in North Dakota, North Dakota’s oldest and largest wholesale business moved to Minneapolis in 1919 to be more centrally located. Nash-Finch, a Fortune 500 company, is the nation’s third largest food wholesaler with 17 distribution centers supplying over 6,000 stores in 24 states. Fred passed away in 1926, but three generations of Nash and Harry Finch families have continued with the company as directors and officers.

Fred P. Nash
Nash Finch
Year Inducted: 1989
 
 
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image: Oliver Dalrymple Oliver Dalrymple became the first bonanza farmer in pioneer Dakota Territory when directors of the Northern Pacific Railway chose him to manage the first farm factory in 1875. This Minnesota wheat grower had been left penniless by the Panic of 1873. Twelve years later, he was managing nearly 100,000 acres of farmland utilizing professional management, innovative large-scale machinery, and operating in divisions of 2,500 acres. In 1876, he purchased a complete telephone system for his farm divisions from Alexander Graham Bell. He ordered hundreds of new twine binders from Cyrus McCormick sight unseen in 1878. In 1881, he organized the driving of 100 mule-drawn grain tanks to Duluth to prove he wasn’t a slave of railroad rates. The best known of the bonanza farmers, Oliver Dalrymple passed away in 1908 at Casselton, ND.
Oliver Darlymple
Bonanza Farmer
Year Inducted: 1989
 
 
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image: Harris Baukol Harris Baukol founded the Baukol-Noonan Coal Company in 1929 at Noonan, ND, which grew into one of the largest coal-producing companies in the nation. Baukol was among the first to employ new surface mining procedures rather than use the underground and slope methods prevalent at the time. He was a proponent of revegetation programs, planting trees, shrubs and grasses for bird and game habitats long before reclamation became popular. Baukol retired in 1950 and passed away in 1966. After 58 years of operation, Baukol-Noonan was purchased by Minnesota Power, a diversified Minnesota Electric Utility headquartered in Duluth, in 1988. The coal company name was changed to BNI, and its offices were moved to Bismarck in 1989.

Harris Baukol
Baukol Noonan
Year Inducted: 1989
 
 
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image: Jim Seifert After growing up and working in the family’s general store in Oakes, ND, and graduating with a degree in Commerce from UND, Jim Seifert borrowed $15,000 in 1954 to buy a women’s apparel store in Washington, Iowa -- the start of Seiferts Women’s Apparel Chain. Active and spectator women’s sportswear was a relatively new fashion phenomenon in the 1950s, and it became Seifert’s competitive edge. Seifert recognized the managerial strength of women and built his company on that strength. That, plus being one of the first to use computers for multiple store management in the early 1960s enabled Seiferts to grow to an organization of 237 stores in 31 states employing 2,500 people.
Jim Seifert
Seifert Clothing
Year Inducted: 1990
 
 
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image: Thomas W. Leach Thomas W. Leach, a surface geologist, did more than anyone to persuade the major oil companies to explore for oil in the Williston Basin. He predicted oil would be discovered on his first visit to North Dakota in 1928. He established an office in Bismarck in 1936, and spent 15 years proving the skeptics wrong. Amerada Oil brought in the Clarence Iverson well near Tioga in 1951 with Leach’s encouragement and leasing. He formed North American Royalties in 1952 to consolidate his lease holdings, which went public in 1953, and it was the first North Dakota company listed on the American Stock Exchange, in 1957. Leach and his partners held 4 million of the 30 million acres under lease, making him the largest operator in the state. He died in 1966 at age 69.
Thomas W. Leach
Oil Pioneer
Year Inducted: 1990
 
 
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image: R. M. Heskett Interested in electricity since his boyhood in Ohio, R. M. Heskett earned an electrical engineering degree in 1902 from the Armour Institute of Technology in Chicago. Beginning in 1913, he built the Chisholm Electric Company in the Mesabi Iron Range of Minnesota, which he sold in 1923 with plans to retire early. In 1924, he and a few investors began buying electric companies in Montana and the Dakotas. They diversified through natural gas pipelines, oil production, and lignite coal mining, thus forming the company that would become Montana Dakota Utilities. In 1948, MDU became the first North Dakota company to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Heskett served as president of MDU until 1954, but continued to serve as chairman until 1964 when he retired at the age of 93. He died in 1965.
Ronald M. Heskett
Montana Dakota Utilities
Year Inducted: 1990
 
 
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image: Gene Dahl Gene Dahl played a key role in farm equipment manufacturing as a leader with the Melroe Company, Steiger Tractor, and Concord, Inc.

First a teacher, he joined the Melroe family in 1950 to build the largest manufacturing company in North Dakota. When Melroe was sold to Clark Equipment in 1969, he joined Steiger as CEO and Chairman. Sales increased from $3 million to $105 million in six years, and the company became a world leader in the manufacture of 4-wheel drive tractors. Steiger was sold to JI Case in 1986. He served as Chairman of Concord, Inc., a manufacturer of minimum-till farm equipment from 1977 until its sale to Case Corp. in early 1996. He also co-founded First Dakota Capital, North Dakota’s first venture capital firm.
Eugene R. Dahl
Manufacturing
Entrepreneur

Year Inducted: 1990
 
 
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image: Bert Gamble Bert Gamble and his boyhood friend, Phil Skogmo, opened the first Gamble’s auto accessories store in 1925 in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Within ten weeks, there were four branches in the Dakotas. By 1929, there were 55 stores in five states; by 1939, there were 1,700 stores; and in 1969, there were 4,200 stores with sales of $2 billion. Gamble-Skogmo grew into 26 diversified divisions including Gambles, Red Owl, Alden, Snyder Drug, and IDS. Gambles became the nation’s 15th largest retail chain. The Gamble-Skogmo Foundation remains as a legacy supporting youth, elderly, medical, and educational causes. A native of Hunter, ND, he retired as Chairman in 1977 and died in 1986 at age 88.
Bertin C. Gamble
Gamble - Skogmo
Year Inducted: 1991
 
 
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image: Herman Stern Herman Stern emigrated from Germany at 16 years of age to work for his cousin, M. G. Straus, in Casselton. The Straus Clothing store was founded in 1879. Stern moved to Valley City in 1911 for Straus, which later branched out to six stores across the state. Stern was the founder of many organizations including the Greater North Dakota Association (GNDA) in 1925, the North Dakota Winter Show in 1938, and the North Dakota Automobile Club (AAA) in 1940. In the 1930s he sponsored over 120 Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany. Stern died in 1980 at age 92.
Herman Stern
Strauss-Clothing
Year Inducted: 1991
 
 
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image: Tom Barger Tom Barger went to Saudi Arabia in 1937 to help explore for oil, and he stayed there for 32 years. He helped to build the Arabian American Oil Co. (ARAMCO) into a world-class oil-producing venture. Named President in 1959, under his leadership ARAMCO grew to be the largest oil producer in the free world and the first company to produce more than one billion barrels of oil in a year. Profits were among the highest of any major company. An authority and scholar on the Middle East, he promoted social and educational projects for the Saudis. A native of Linton, and a 1931 graduate of UND, Barger retired as Chairman in 1969 and died in 1986 at age 76.

Thomas C. Barger
ARAMCO
Year Inducted: 1986
 
 
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image: James Grahl James Grahl became the first employee and general manager of Basin Electric Power Cooperative in 1962. Under 24 years of his leadership, Basin grew to be the largest power supply cooperative in the nation, serving 128 rural electrical systems in eight Plains states, which in turn provide service to more than 1.2 million rural residents. Basin pioneered the use of lignite coal on a large-scale basis, building a generating station that was three times larger than any other. They pioneered mined-land reclamation laws, studies in dry-scrubbing technology for sulfur dioxide removal, and the use of economic and environmental impacts for large construction projects. Grahl retired from Basin in 1985.

James L. Grahl
Basin Electric Power Coop
Year Inducted: 1992
 
 
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image: Reverend August Hoeger The Reverend August Hoeger founded the Good Samaritan Society in 1922 in Arthur, North Dakota. Responding to the needs of a child crippled with polio, $2,000 more was raised than was needed, and the extra funds were used to help other individuals. In 1929, a home for "old folks" was opened in Fargo, and by 1940, expansion had taken the Good Samaritan Society into 27 communities in 10 states. The Society had grown to 150 facilities caring for 12,000 residents when Hoeger died in 1970 at age 85. Today, the GSS owns and operates 240 facilities in 26 states, caring for 28,000 residents. Two sons, August and John Hoeger, and a grandson, Mark Jerstad, followed Rev. Hoeger as President.

Rev. August Hoeger
Good Samaritan Society
Year Inducted: 1992
 
 
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image: Ray Rude Ray Rude is Founder and President of Duraflex International, the world’s only competitive diving board manufacturer. A native of Stanley, North Dakota, Rude Launched his company in Pasadena, California, in 1947 to make tooling for airplanes. The first aluminum diving board was made from a rejected airplane wing panel in 1948. Duraflex diving boards have been used in every Olympic competition since 1960. Rude created the market for high performance diving boards and has dominated the world market for over three decades. He designed, built, and maintains the production equipment. The Sparks, Nevada, firm has sold over 63,000 diving boards to institutional customers.

Raymond Rude
Duraflex International
Year Inducted: 1993
 
 
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image: Ray Rude Larry Brown co-founded AGSCO in 1934 at age 24 to sell excess farm supplies to area farmers. For over 60 years, AGSCO of Grand Forks has pioneered agricultural technologies in the four-state region. AGSCO was the first in the Upper Midwest to have plants for formulating and mixing farm chemicals and blending fertilizers, and the first to have a commercial farm chemical laboratory facility. Although the farm supply industry is dominated by large firms, this small independent company flourished through innovation. A native of Deer River, Minnesota, Brown attended UND. He retired as President in 1978, and continues as Chairman of the Board.

Larry Brown
AGSCO
Year Inducted: 1993
 
 
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  American Crystal Sugar is the nation’s largest sugarbeet processor with five plants in the Red River Valley; the lowest cost producer of sugar; and a pioneer of technologies to enhance sugarbeet growing, processing, and marketing. The East Grand Forks plant was built in 1925, followed by plants in Moorhead, Crookston, Drayton, and Hillsboro. In 1973, ACS became the nation’s first sugar processing cooperative with 2,100 growers planting 400,000 acres. ACS is the world-class leader in the sugar processing industry, employing 2,400 people, producing one-third of the nation’s sugar, and generating $7.1 billion in revenues from 1973 to 1992.

American Crystal Sugar
Leading Sugar Processor
Year Inducted: 1993
 
 
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image: M. W. (Bob) and Jean Kiesau M. W. (Bob) and Jean Kiesau founded Home of Economy in 1939 -- selling tires, batteries, and a few auto supplies. A year later, they branched out into sporting goods, furniture, and appliances. After WW II, Kiesau originated the discount store concept by identifying farmers to qualify as "fleet" operators. Mid-States Distributing Co. was formed in 1952; Bob served as President for four years of this unique buying partnership, which includes 64 independent retailers with 475 discount store locations. Jean became President of Home of Economy in 1970. Under her leadership, the five stores thrive in a very competitive rural market, remaining the largest, independently-owned retailer in the Midwest.

Bob & Jean Kiesau
Discount Store Organizer
Year Inducted: 1994
 
 
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image: Ed Shorma Ed Shorma bought a shoe repair shop in 1953 and turned it into one of the state’s largest manufacturers, Wahpeton Canvas Company®. He later formed six more companies, including PrimeWood, Inc.®, which was the first U.S. manufacturer to produce veneer-wrapped wood products. Company-developed technology has made it an international leader in the industry. Mr. Shorma’s companies manufacture products made of fabric, rubber, metal, wood, and plastic to sell to U.S. and international markets. PrimeBoard® a $15 million company, was launched to manufacture WheatBoard®, a particle board made of wheat straw. It is the first plant of its kind in the world. Shorma’s companies employ a thousand people.
Edward Shroma
Wahpeton Canvas
Year Inducted: 1994
 
 
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image: Charles H.  Robinson Charles H. Robinson moved to North Dakota and Grand Forks from New York in 1890. Starting out as a "traveling agent," in 1896 he branched out as a broker of fresh vegetables and general merchandise in the Red River Valley of North Dakota and Minnesota and built a leading brokerage business of his day. In 1905, he became a partner with the Nash Bros. Wholesalers, and the C.H. Robinson Company was incorporated. Robinson died in Grand Forks in 1909. In 1919, the company was moved to Minneapolis, and today the company that bears his name is the largest distributor of fresh produce in North America and the largest third-party mover of freight in the country.

Charles H. Robinson
C.H. Robinson Co.
Year Inducted: 1995
 
 
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image: Gerald "Jerry" Beyers Starting as a home-based business in 1973, Gerald "Jerry" Beyers turned ABC Seamless and Construction into the ABC Seamless Siding Corp., North Dakota’s first franchiser and the world’s largest seamless siding company. ABC Seamless has more than 250 employees in its Fargo and branch offices, and the franchises, spread across 38 states, employ 3,000. More than 200,000 homeowners have been served by ABC Seamless. The company has consistently rated among the top franchises in the country. Success magazine rated the company 6th in its Franchise Gold 100.
Gerald Beyers
ABC Seamless
Year Inducted: 1995
 
 
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image: George Kuhlman George Kuhlman founded Acme Electric Motor Inc. in 1948 in Grand Forks. Starting as a motor repair business in a 10 foot-square shop, the company is now a major tool and equipment distributor with five retail store locations. Grand Forks, Bismarck (1979), Fargo (1982), and Minot (1985), North Dakota, and Duluth, Minnesota (1995). George's strong work ethic and emphasis on customer service attracted loyal customers. Many of the contractors who came to Grand Forks in the mid-1950's to build the Grand Forks Air Force Base relied on George and his company for their materials. Many of these contractors remain Tool Crib customers today -- even though they live in other states and countries. Today, 200 employees handle hundreds of product lines and provide expert advice to customers throughout the world. Tool Crib also has one of the nation's largest woodworking and construction mail-order operators. George passed away in 1995. Today his company is known as Acme Electric Tool Crib of the North.
George Kuhlman
Acme Electric/Tool Crib
Year Inducted: 1997
 
 
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image: Gerald Van Eeckhout A native of Fargo, North Dakota, Gerald Van Eeckhout founded ACT Teleconferencing in 1989 in order to develop and expand teleconferencing on a global basis. With operations in the United States, the United Kingdom, continental Europe, and Australia, ACT has evolved into the most extensive multinational provider of global teleconferencing products and services in a rapidly growing $6 billion plus industry. In 1996, the company went public and is now traded on the NASDAQ Exchange. Prior to founding ACT, Van Eeckhout founded another Denver-based teleconferencing company, ConferTech, which he launched from start-up to a successful NASDAQ company.
Andrew Freeman
Gerald Van Eeckhout
Year Inducted: 1986
 
 
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image: James H. Wallace A native of Tokio, North Dakota, and graduate of NDSU, James H. Wallace founded Cranel, Incorporated in 1985 as a corporation to distribute high-performance products in the computer peripheral area. Since Cranel's focus is on leading-edge, high technology products, the company continues to evaluate and focus on both market and technology changes of the future. Cranel, which now employs 170, is the fourth successful independent company started by Wallace, and is recognized as a solid competitor in the distribution and integration areas. Prior to its inception, Wallace founded Microtech, Cascade Data, and REP Associates. In addition to owning successful businesses, Wallace devotes significant time, energy and effort to helping and encouraging fellow entrepreneurs, those considering starting their own businesses, and other nonprofit organizations.
James H. Wallace
Rural Electric Pioneer
Year Inducted: 1998
 
 
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image: Dwight M.B. Baumann Dwight M.B. Baumann graduated from NDSU in 1955. NSF granted him a full scholarship to MIT. In 1957, he became an instructor at MIT at the age of 24, and upon completion of his ScD was promoted to Assistant Professor. In 1963, he began experimenting with teaching entrepreneurship as a "special topics" course. In 1970 he moved to Carnegie Mellon University as a Full Professor, and in ‘71 began offering the first graduate entrepreneurship course "Design and Entrepreneurship" in the Schools of Engineering, Business, and Public Policy while founding the Center for Entrepreneurial Development, Inc. A joint venture between the schools. Baumann is considered the "dean" of university-based entrepreneurship programs in the nation. He was primary author of the 1995 North Dakota legislation on "Tort Reform by Contracts" for aircraft manufacturing. Baumann is a native of Ashley, North Dakota.

Dwight M.B. Baumann
Center for
Entrepreneruial
Development

Year Inducted: 2000
 
 
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image: Stanley A. Moe Stanley A. Moe is one of the six partners and founder-shareholders of Daniel, Mann, Johnson and Mendenhall (DMJM), one of the world’s largest architectural, planning and engineering firms. A leading pioneer in his profession, Moe expanded architecture and engineering services to an international scale, establishing more than two dozen foreign operations around the world. Moe’s talents are also firmly imprinted on the U.S. space programs, since he directed the design efforts of such space vehicles & systems as the Atlas, Jupiter, Thor, Titan I, the lunar excursion module and the space shuttle. Moe received the UND Sioux Award in 1985, and an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree from UND in 1993. He is a native of Ross, ND and lives in Los Angeles.

Stanley Moe
DMJM
Year Inducted: 2000
 
 
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image: Marshall V. Noecker Marshall V. Noecker, Owner of Noecker companies(now Noecker Group), which grew from a small shop making aluminum windows to a portfolio of 13 manufacturing companies and 7 investment firms. During World War II Marshall worked with the wartime landing craft industry and realized that aluminum was the metal of the future. He developed the program to sell tools to small manufacturing businesses around the world -- 164 sets were sold. Then, through his other companies, he sold these businesses all their materials to make aluminum windows and doors and allied products. Noecker's goal was always to increase his volume by 15% annually which he achieved. Born and raised in Sanborn, North Dakota, Marshall received his degree in accounting from the University of Minnesota. His first job was on Wall Street in New York City.
Marshall V. Noecker
Noecker Group
Year Inducted: 2001
 
 
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image: Bruce Gjovig Bruce Gjovig founded the University of North Dakota Center for Innovation and Business Development in 1984. Since then, Gjovig has become known as a champion for innovators, entrepreneurs, small manufacturers and seed capital causes in the Upper Great Plains. Since it’s inception, the Center for Innovation has assisted over 300 business start-ups or product introductions. The Center has received national attention for its manufacturing start-up programs and its success in technology commercialization, especially in rural areas. In 1992, Gjovig helped secure funding for the Rural Technology Incubator, the first University-based business incubator in the region. He has been involved in founding the Angel Capital Electronic Network, the 3M Patent & Trademark Depository Library, the North Dakota Inventors Congress, and the North Dakota Entrepreneur Hall of Fame and Business Innovator of the Year Award. Gjovig, a Crosby, ND native, holds two degrees from The University of North Dakota.
Bruce Q. Gjovig
Center for Innovation
Year Inducted: 2001
 
 
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image: Ralph Engelstad Ralph Engelstad came from humble beginnings in Thief River Falls, MN. He worked from the time he was 12 years old, and worked his way through college at UND. Vowing to be a millionaire by the age of 30, Engelstad started a construction company in Grand Forks. He reached millionaire status at the age of 29. In 1959, he moved to Las Vegas to work year-round construction on FHA homes. He purchased a tract of land where the Thunderbird Airport now stands. With profits from the airport sale, Engelstad purchased Flamingo-Capri Motel on the Las Vegas strip, and acting as his own contractor, built the site into the Imperial Palace opening in 1976. By 1999, the Imperial Palace was the largest privately owned hotel-casino, and the 16th largest hotel in the world. Engelstad introduced several firsts in the industry, including an on-site medical center for employees and guests, the first drive through Race and Sports Book and the first to begin Airline Baggage Check-In service from a hotel. Engelstad operates the Imperial Palace debt free, highly unusual in such an enterprise. Engelstad is a quiet philanthropist to many causes. His gift of $104 million for the Ralph Engelstad Arena became one of the Top Ten gifts to Higher Education in America. Engelstad died November of 2002.

Ralph Engelstad
Imperial Palace
Year Inducted: 2002
 
 
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image: Croil Hunter Croil Hunter, a Casselton, North Dakota native, served as the second president of Northwest Airlines from 1937 to 1953. Hunter led Northwest Airlines from its early days as a local airmail carrier into a transcontinental, overseas and international air passenger network of more than 20,000 certified miles. Probably best known for his creation of the “Great Circle” route to the Orient, Hunter is also credited with pioneering new equipment in the 1930s, establishing and extensive route structure, expanding to a national airline and in 1949 establishing coach fares. In 1953, Hunter was elevated to the post of chairman of the board and continued in that capacity until his retirement in 1958, when he served as chairman emeritus until 1965. Hunter died in St. Paul in 1970 at the age of 77.

Croil Hunter
Northwest Airlines
Year Inducted: 2002
 
 
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image: Lowell Swenson Lowell Swenson, Entrepreneur, Arctic Enterprises - today known as Arctic Cat. Lowell Swenson was born and raised in Lancaster, Minnesota. Swenson attended UND before enlisting in the Army in 1941. Upon his return from WWII, Swenson completed his degree and worked as an accountant for several companies before purchasing Arctic Enterprises in 1965. Arctic Enterprises manufactured snowmobiles in Thief River Falls, MN. Under Swenson’s leadership, Arctic Enterprises became a publicly traded company on NASDAQ, with market capitalization of $350 million and over 1500 employees. Swenson sold controlling interest in the company in 1981. Swenson has also been involved in ownership of two Minnesota banks, and helped two of his sons establish Mesaba Airlines.
Lowell Swenson
Arctic enterprises
Year Inducted: 2003
 
 
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image: Norman C. Skalicky Norman C. Skalicky, President and C.E.O. of Stearns Bank. Norm Skalicky purchased Stearns County Bank in Albany, Minnesota in 1965. Since then, Skalicky has added five rural banks in Minnesota and one in Arizona. Skalicky is also President of Stearns Financial, a nationwide leasing company, Stearns Agency, National Dispatch Insurance, S & D Incorporated and Skal-Kin, Inc. all located in the St. Cloud area. Skalicky is recognized as an innovator in the banking industry, and his company has been recognized as one of the top-performing independent banks in the nation. Norm was born on a farm near Brockett, ND and graduated from UND in 1955.
Norman C. Skalicky
Sterns County Bank
Year Inducted: 2003
 
 
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image: Peter Nygård Peter Nygård is the Founder and Chairman of Nygård International. In 1967, Nygård gathered his life savings and borrowed capital to purchase 20% of a ladies garment manufacturer, which within a few years he owned outright. Today he operates a women’s ready-to-wear business with annual sales in excess of $500 million, employing over 12,000 people worldwide. The company began in Manitoba, Canada, but has grown to include divisions around the globe. Nygård continues to “raise the bar” in the standard of excellence for North America’s women’s fashion industry and is recognized as a world leader in technology supply-chain management. “Where Fashion Meets Technology” is the company’s official corporate slogan. In 2003, Nygård International celebrated 35 years of Success in Business. Nygård is a 1964 graduate of UND.

Peter Nygård
Nygård International
Year Inducted: 2004
 
 
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image: Jonh Miller John Miller is President of Turtle Mountain Corporation, providing comprehensive contract electronics manufacturing solutions. Miller was the founder of the corporation in 1974. Since that time, Turtle Mountain Corporation has grown to ship over $1 million each week in products, and employs over 300 people, two-thirds of whom are members of the Turtle Mountain Tribe. Turtle Mountain Corporation became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Pemstar, Inc. in 2000. Miller graduated from NDSU in 1957 with a degree in mechanical engineering. He received the Alumni Achievement Award from NDSU in 1996.

John Miller
Turtle Mountain
Corperation

Year Inducted: 2004
 
 
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Marilyn & John Whitney, founded Gaymar Industries, which started out as a basement operation in Tonawanda, New York. Originally a manufacturer or welded products like placemats and book covers for the consumer market, the company soon entered the growing field of health care products. Over 42 years, Marilyn and John grew the company into a high-tech company specializing in products for pressure ulcer management and temperature management, with 1997 sales of $50 million. In 1999, a year after John's death in the crash of a demonstration airplane, the company was sold. Marilyn is the lead investor and Chairman of the Board for Technology Applications Group, a magnesium coatings company in Grand Forks. Marilyn is a native of Kulm, North Dakota and a graduate of UND.

Marilyn & John Whitney
Gaymar Industries

Year Inducted: 2005
 
 
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Eddie R. Fischer, President & CEO of Vista Paint and Chairman of the Board for Fisher Flying Products was born and raised in North Dakota. Eddie Fischer and a fellow North Dakotan founded Grove Paints in 1957. Originally a retail paint store, Grove soon grew to include the manufacture of paints. The name of the company was changed to Vista Paint in 1966. Fischer purchased his partner's share of the company in 1975 and has been sole owner of Vista Paint since that time. With 47 stores, 600 employees, and a projected 2005 revenue of over $100 million, Vista Paint has evolved into a well-known and highly respected brand throughout California and Nevada. In 1981, Eddie Fischer purchased Fisher Flying Products, which distributes and sells ultra-light and experimental aircraft. By moving this enterprise to his hometown of Edgeley, he helped strengthen the town's growing economy.
Eddie R. Fischer
Vista Paint &
Fisher Flying Products

Year Inducted: 2005
 


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Ronald Bergan, CEO of Fargo Assembly Company of Fargo is a graduate of NDSU. Bergan and two partners purchased a wire harness company in 1975 that had just two employees. Only 10 years later, the company had grown to 40 employees, and Bergan bought out his two partners. In 1992, Bergan purchased a Pennsylvania wire harness company with five plants in three eastern states. Operated as a seperate company, Fargo Assembly of PA employs 650 people. In 2004 sales, including the acquisitions, exceeded $100 million with 1,500 employees and 15 plants in 6 states. Seven of those plants and 700 of those employees are in North Dakota.

Ronald Bergan
Fargo Assembly Company

Year Inducted: 2005
 
 
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Ronald D. Offutt
R.D. Offutt Company & RDO Equipment Co.
Year Inducted: 2006


Ronald D. Offutt,
Founder, Chairman & CEO - R.D. Offutt Company & RDO Equipment Co. was raised on the family farm in Moorhead, Minnesota. Offutt received a B.S. in Economics from Concordia College in Moorehead in 1964. Just four years later, Offutt founded R.D. Offutt Company, comprised for a variety of businesses which now employes over 4,000 people. The cornerstone of the company is a farming enterprise that has grown to encompass farmland in 12 states totaling 190,000 acres. RDO is the nation's largest producer of potatoes. RDO Equipment Co. owns the largest network of John Deere construction and agricultural equipment dealerships in the United States with over 60 locations in 10 states. In 1978, Offutt entered the food processing business with the purchase of an Atlanta, Georgia french fry plant. Today, the company owns 8 plants and processes over 500 million pounds of potatoes.
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Center for Innovation
Ina Mae Rude Entrepreneur Center
The University of North Dakota
4200 James Ray Drive Stop 8372
Grand Forks, ND 58203 USA
Phone: 701.777.3132
Fax: 701.777.2339
info@innovators.net
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