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North Dakota Business Innovator of the Year
 
 
 
image: Doug Burgum Doug Burgum is a senior vice president at Microsoft and president of the Microsoft Great Plains division. Microsoft Great Plains Business Solutions is a leading provider of business applications that help small and mid-sized companies become more agile in today's interconnected economy. Microsoft Great Plains Business Solutions was created through Microsoft's April 2001 acquisition of Great Plains.

Microsoft Great Plains has been recognized as a leader in providing e-business solutions that include financials, project accounting, distribution, electronic commerce, human resources and payroll, manufacturing, enterprise reporting, sales and marketing management, and customer service and support applications.

Doug earned top honors in the technology category of Ernst and Young's 1997 Minnesota and Dakotas "Entrepreneur of the Year" awards. He has been honored in Accounting Today magazine by being named to its "The Top 100 Most Influential People in Accounting" list for the past five years.

Doug Burgum
Great Plains Software
Year Inducted: 1989
 
 
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image: John Odegard John Odegard, Dean of the UND Center for Aerospace Sciences, and President of the non-profit UND Aerospace Foundation, is a native of Minot, ND. In 1968, Odegard pioneered UND’s aviation program with one other faculty member and a pair of aircraft financed by the University’s Alumni Foundation. Under his leadership, the college has grown to become one of the nation’s most widely respected aerospace education programs, and a leader in atmospheric research. Beginning with only 12 students, enrollment is now over 1,400. The Center’s flight training facility is the largest of its kind in North America. Odegard’s reputation for leadership has earned him industry respect and numerous rewards.
John Odegard
UND Aerospace
Year Inducted: 1989
 
 
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image: Norman Jones Norman Jones began his career at Metropolitan Federal in 1952 and was named President in 1967. At that time, Metropolitan’s assets were $57.5 million and its branches were limited to the Red River Valley. By 1990, it was one of the largest institutions of its kind with assets of $4.3 billion and a financial performance that ranked in the nation’s top ten. It was the first North Dakota company to be named to the Fortune 500 list. Jones was named Chairman of the Board in 1983 and led the company’s conversion from a mutual to a stock thrift. Among Metropolitan’s innovations were the acquisition of Edina Realty, Minnesota’s largest home seller, and the acquisition of seven insolvent thrifts. Metropolitan was acquired by the First Bank System in 1995, at which time Metropolitan had assets of over $8 billion.
Norman M. Jones
Metropolitan Federal
Year Inducted: 1990
 
 
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image: Bob Spolum Bob Spolum joined the Melroe Company in 1963 as Controller; sales at that time were $4 million. When he was named Executive Vice President in 1969, sales had increased to $25 million. Today, sales of the Bobcat® skid-steer loader total $500 million per year, outselling the nearest competitor two to one. All of the Bobcats sold worldwide are manufactured in Gwinner and Bismarck, North Dakota. Fortune magazine has twice named the Bobcat one of "America’s Top 100 Products." Today, Melroe is owned by Clark Equipment Co. and employs 1,500 people. Spolum retired as President and Chairman of the Board of Melroe in 1992.
Bob Spolum
Melroe Company
Year Inducted: 1991
 
 
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image: Gary Tharaldson’s Gary Tharaldson’s Fargo-based company, Tharaldson Enterprises, is the largest developer of new motels in the U.S. Today, his company owns and operates 225 motel properties in 21 states, including 13 in North Dakota. Carving out a market niche, Tharaldson’s motels fall into the "economy luxury" category and are located in mid-size university cities. Hotel and Resort Industry Magazine called him "the entrepreneurial and financial guru for the U.S. motel development and management industry." Room sales will exceed $190 million in 1996 with a 74% occupancy rate.

Gary Tharaldson
Tharaldson Enterprises

Year Inducted: 1992

 
 
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image: Gerry Groenewold Gerry Groenewold became Director of the UND Energy and Environmental Research Center in 1987. Under his leadership, the EERC has grown from $6 million in annual research contracts to over $21 million in 1996. EERC is the world’s largest low-rank coal research center and the leader in lignite coal and groundwater research. North Dakota’s largest research entity, with a staff of 260, EERC offers technical solutions to energy and environmental problems.
Gerry Groenewold
UND EERC
Year Inducted: 1992
 
 
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image: Judy Johnson Judy Johnson is President and CEO of Meyer Broadcasting of Bismarck, and under her leadership, Meyer Broadcasting has become a national industry leader in automated telecasting, using custom-designed computer applications. Meyer Broadcasting has long dominated the electronic media in western North Dakota and purchased KTHI-TV in 1995. As a partner in Pentor Communications, Johnson was the first American woman to own a business in post-Communist Poland. Pentor Communications is a media conglomerate in Warsaw employing 200 people.
Judy Johnson
Meyer Broadcasting
Year Inducted: 1993
 
 
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image: Barry Batcheller Barry Batcheller is the founding president of Phoenix International Corp. of Fargo, which has an international reputation for quality electronic design and manufacturing. Phoenix supplies electronic instrumentation, control systems, sensors, and other devices to more than a dozen North American manufacturers and five in Europe. Starting with three employees in 1987, Phoenix has grown to over 450 people. Sales have doubled every year since 1990. Batcheller holds 17 patents on control and instrumentation products and has authored numerous papers on the use of electronics in agriculture.

Barry Batcheller
Branic Industries
Year Inducted: 1994

 
 
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image: Darlene Jackson-Hanson Darlene Jackson-Hanson is the President and CEO of Fisher Flying Products and President, CEO, and Owner of Jackson Mfg. of Edgeley, North Dakota. Fisher Flying Products is North Dakota’s only light aircraft kit manufacturer and a leader nationally in the number of models available. Their R-80 Tiger Moth and the Dakota Hawk won "Best of Show" awards at Oshkosh ‘94, the international fly-in convention, and their bi-wing model, the "Classic," has won "Champion" awards for 1991, 1992, and 1993. The company is one of the largest in sales in competition with 60 other companies offering 500 models.
Darleen Jackson-Hanson
Fisher Flying Products
Year Inducted: 1994
 
 
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image: Steve Orr Steve Orr joined Lutheran Health Systems of Fargo in 1988 and serves as its Chairman, President, and CEO. Under his leadership, LHS has experienced the most successful period ever in its 60-year history. Net income increased from $800,000 in 1987 to $55.8 million in 1995. Orr’s commitment to the historical mission of LHS to serve rural areas has proven that rural health care is a vital and important part of America and serves to anchor the economic viability of rural communities. LHS owns, leases, and manages health care facilities in 70 communities across 17 states and employs 14,000 people.

Steve Orr
Lutheran Health Systems
Year Inducted: 1995

 
 
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image: Russ Brown Russ Brown joined the family business, AGSCO, in 1956. After three years at the Watertown, SD, branch, he returned to Grand Forks to become Sales Manager in 1961. He was named CEO and President in 1978, a position he held until 1995, when his son, Randy Brown, was named President. Russ continues as CEO, and his father, Larry, as Chairman of the Board. Under Russ’s leadership, AGSCO expanded tremendously and earned a national reputation as an innovator in the use of seed treatments, herbicides, insecticides, adjuvants, and chemical application equipment.

L. Russell Brown
AGSCO
Year Inducted: 1995

 
 
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image: Wes Rydell After purchasing the Grand Forks Chevrolet dealership from his father, Leonard, in 1976, Wes Rydell has expanded the Rydell organization to include nearly 30 automobile dealerships in seven states. The expansion of the organization has grown out of Wes's personal philosophy rather than the desire to simply "get bigger." Taking great pleasure in promoting the success of his employees, each and every dealer in the organization used to work for Wes, or is an employee of former employees who are now owners. In 1995, Wes established Cartiva, a planned network of used car dealerships, based on the concept of enhancing the image of the car business by taking better care of the customers. He believes giving the customer what they want, when they want it, is the key; profits and market share follow.

Wes Rydell
Rydell Chevrolet/Cartiva
Year Inducted: 1997
 
 
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image: Howard Dahl Continuing a family tradition of creativity and innovation, Howard Dahl founded Concord, Inc., a manufacturer of conservation tillage farm equipment, in 1977 in Fargo. In 1981, the first Concord Air Drill was manufactured. Surviving the severe economic downturn in the ag machinery market of the 1980's, Concord emerged as a leader in seeders for wheat and small grains. Concord was the first to manufacture an air drill with row-by-row packing and precision depth control, the first to put down fertilizer below the seed at the same time as planting, and the first to build a machine that changed seeding and fertilizing rates on the go. After the sale of Concord to Case Corp. in 1996, some of the retained technology was incorporated into Amity Technology, a leading manufacturer of sugar beet harvesting equipment and the manufacturer of the Concord Air Drill in Russia, the Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and China.
Howard A. Dahl
Ag Entrepreneur
Year Inducted: 1997
 
 
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image: Donald R. Mengedoth In 1986, when First Bank decided to divest 42 community banks in a five-state territory, Donald R. Mengedoth saw the potential of serving the smaller, mostly rural markets. Mengedoth led a group of investors who acquired 21 of the banks in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. From its unique beginnings with 21 banks and $630 million in assets, Fargo-based Community First has grown under Mengedoth's leadership to become a $6 billion multibank holding company serving 154 communities in 11 states. It now employs 604 people in North Dakota alone. True to its community-based roots, Community First's expansion strategy has been to grow though acquiring financial institutions in small and median sized markets…markets that are typically under-served or overlooked by other major banking organizations.
Donald R. Mengedoth
Community First
Banksharers, Inc.

Year Inducted: 1998
 
 
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image: Richard J. Lee, Ph.D. A native of Berthold, North Dakota, and UND graduate in physics, Richard J. Lee, Ph.D. purchased an analysis and consulting company with six employees in Monroeville, Pennsylvania in 1985. Through his leadership, RJ Lee Group, Inc. now employs a staff of over 120 professionals at five nationwide locations, providing contract research, analytical services and applications development in various fields of materials analysis and problem solving on behalf of an international client base. In the late 1980's, company scientist and engineers developed an innovative personal electron microscope, which is now produced and sold by a new spin-off company, RJ Lee Instruments, Ltd. (now known as ASPEX®, LLC) located in Trafford, Pennsylvania.

R.J. Lee Ph.D.
RJ Lee Group, Inc.
Year Inducted: 1998
 
 
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image: Mark Stutrud Mark Stutrud launched Summit Brewing as a microbrewery in 1984 and built the first new brewery in the Twin Cities area in over 100 years when in 1995 he built his 58,000 square foot brewery with a capacity of 70,000 barrels per year. Summit Brewing became one of only 33 "regional" breweries producing more than 15,000 barrels in 1995. Summit brews - in the tradional British style - three beers year-around and four on a seasonal basis. Profitable since 1990, the company has enjoyed nearly a decade of double digit growth, ranging from 11% to 35%. Summit is one of the nation’s leading regional brewers of specialty beer, and is the premier specialty brewer in the Upper Midwest. Stutrud is a native of Wahpeton and is a graduate of UND as well as the Siebel Institute of Technology in Chicago.

Mark O. Stutrud
Summit Brewing Co.
Year Inducted: 2000
 
 
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image: Jack Dalrymple Jack Dalrymple, a Casselton, ND durum grower and influential state legislator saw a changing market for pasta and recognized that the quality of pasta the general public was demanding could only be achieved through complete control and integration of the grain procurement, milling and manufacturing processes. Dalrymple also recognized that this could best be achieved through a grower-owned cooperative structure, ensuring a steady supply of the right kind of durum wheat. In its first five years of operation, Dakota Growers became the third largest producer of pasta in North America, employing 500 people with processing capacity of 470,000 million pounds of pasta a year and sales in excess of $150 million.

Jack Dalrymple
Dakota Grower's
Pasta Co.

Year Inducted: 2000
 
 
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image: Tim Dodd Tim Dodd is the foremost authority on integrated pasta manufacturing. He was responsible for the design, construction and start-up of the Dakota Grower’s plant and has continually used innovations to refine the manufacturing process. A Kansas native, Dodd has developed three pasta plants considered leaders in the field. Dodd quadrupled sales of Dakota Grower’s pasta in four years, and built the company’s clientelle to include 30 supermarket chains and a number of restaurant chains. Dodd led the company to become the largest producer of non-branded pasta in the United States, and the third largest pasta producer in the industry.

Tim Dodd
Dakota Grower's
Pasta Co.

Year Inducted: 2000

 
 
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Patrick H. Sweeney has been the President of Weather Modification, Inc. of Fargo since 1992. Weather Modification, Inc. is a worldwide atmospheric research and cloud seeding company conducting business in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, South America and North America. Since the early 1960s, the company has been a worldwide leader in the field of cloud modification and atmospheric research. Currently, the company operates multiple weather radars and more than 25 high performance aircraft staffed by experienced pilots, meteorologists and radar technicians on its cloud seeding and research programs. In 1995, Sweeney formed WMI’s sister company, Fargo Jet Center, Inc., a full service aviation company located in Fargo. In 1999, Sweeney formed Ice Crystal Engineering, LLC, which is the largest producer of cloud seeding pyrotechnics in the world. In 2000, Sweeney was instrumental in the development of Fargo Air Medical LLC, a professional, on-demand, fixed-wing air ambulance service for North Dakota, Minnesota, and the Upper Midwest.

Patrick H. Sweeney
Weather
Modifacation, Inc.

Year Inducted: 2001

 
 
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image: Michael Hofer Global Electric MotorCars of Fargo, started by Michael J. Hofer in 1997, has become the market leader in the Neighborhood Electric Vehicle classification, the first new car classification given by the Department of Transportation since 1929. In November of 2000, GEM was sold to auto giant DaimlerChrysler and still operates in Fargo. GEM employs over 80 people and produces more than 3,000 vehicles a year that are sold through 44 distributors. Hofer was also instrumental in the growth of Diagnostic Medical Systems, Inc. taking the company from $14 million in sales in 1985 to $50 million in 1996. The company grew from 67 employees to 200 employees and became a leader in the U.S. in both capital equipment sales and mobile services, covering 13 states. Hofer left DMS in 1997, and started Imaging Solutions, Inc. Imaging Solutions bases its business on the value of close relationships as cornerstones in the business of selling high-quality CT and MRI scanners and other diagnostic imaging equipment, as well as spearheading the development of outpatient diagnostic imaging centers.

Michael J. Hofer
GEM of Fargo
Year Inducted: 2001
 
 
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image: Sally Wold Smith Sally Wold Smith, a Grand Forks, North Dakota native and UND graduate joined Buffalo Wild Wings as part-time Chief Financial Officer in 1994 to establish the company’s accounting and finance departments. After helping the company weather a $1.8 million loss in 1995 and store closings in 1996, she was named President and CEO in 1996. One of the few female CEO’s in the restaurant industry, Smith has overseen the growth of Buffalo Wild Wings Bar and Grill from a small regional restaurant chain to a national player through innovation and operating practices. In 2001, the company posted annual sales of more than $220 million and had over 160 locations in 26 states.

Sally Wold Smith
Buffalo Wild Wings
Year Inducted: 2002
 
 
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image: David “WhiteThunder” Trottier David “WhiteThunder” Trottier, an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe was born in Devils Lake, North Dakota and was educated at two Indian Mission Schools and at North Dakota public schools. He received his degree in English from Mayville State College in 1981. Trottier joined Chiptronics, Inc., a Dunseith, North Dakota electronics supplier in 1992 and was named President only six months later. When Trottier joined Chiptronics in 1992, the company had annual sales of about $7 million. In less than ten years, company sales grew 570% to nearly $40 million in 2001. Chiptronics has been very innovative in setting up local warehousing and inventory management systems that have allowed the company to have high quality on-demand parts for its customers.

David “WhiteThunder”
Trottier

Chiptronics, Inc.
Year Inducted: 2002

 
 
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image: Thomas E. Kenville Thomas E. Kenville, President and Chief Executive Officer of Mid-America Aviation of West Fargo, a company that specializes in overhaul and repair of accessory drive and dynamic drive components for military and civilian aircraft. Mid-America was formed in 1992 when Kenville and a group of investors purchased the assets of SMS Investments of New York. Sales were projected to be $5 million in 2002. In 1999 they were selected as the SBA Region VIII Prime Contraction of the Year and the Small Business Exporter of the Year in 2000. Kenville grew up in Grand Forks, North Dakota and graduated from UND in 1963.

Thomas E. Kenville
Mid-American Aviation
Year Inducted: 2003
 
 
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image: Darold Rath Darold Rath, Managing Partner/CEO Eide Bailly LLP, a Fargo consulting and accounting firm formed in 1998 by the merger of Eide Helmeke and Charles Bailly firms. Eide Bailly and its affiliated companies provide a full array of services including tax, audit, accounting, employee benefits, human resources, integrated financial planning, technology solutions, fraud prevention, detection and investigations, and business and industry-specific consulting services. Today, it is the sixteenth largest accounting firm with nine offices in six states. Eide Bailly dominates the Midwest market between Minneapolis and Seattle. The firm, with 69 partners/principals, generated $62 million in revenue in 2002. Rath was born and raised in Pettibone, ND. He graduated form UND in 1967.
Darold Rath
Eide Bailly LLP
Year Inducted: 2003
 
 
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image: Richard S. Strong Richard S. Strong is the founder, chairman, and Chief Investment Officer of Strong Financial Corporation, a financial services firm with offices in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, and Indiana. Strong Financial manages nearly $40 billion in assets for individuals, retirement plans, financial advisors, institutions and foundations. Raised in Wahpeton, North Dakota, Dick was orphaned at age 17 and moved to Minnesota to live with relatives. Relying on the lessons of achievement he learned from his family, he went to college and graduate school and began his investment career in 1966. In 1974, Dick started R.S. Strong Capitol Management, an independent, entrepreneurial firm with a hands-on, intensive approach to researching the companies in which it invests. In 1982, he launched his first two mutual funds. Since 1974, Strong Financial has grown into one of the country’s largest independent financial services firms, employing over 1500 associates.

Richard Strong
Strong Financial
Corporation

Year Inducted: 2003
 
 
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image: Randy Brown Randy R. Brown is CEO and Owner of the Brown Corporations, which include AGSCO Inc., Capital Harvest Financing, Ag Depot Service Center, AgSupplier.com, Dakota Jet, Dakota Fusion, EnDyn, and others. Randy has beaten the odds in the consolidating agricultural sector by innovating and offering more services to his farming customers. He took over as president of AGSCO, Inc. in 1995 and became sole owner in 1998. Randy expanded the existing business of providing crop protection products and services to farmers to include warehousing and distribution for the agricultural industry nationwide. In addition, he introduced several new companies which enhanced AGSCO’s business and provided more opportunities to agricultural producers. Together, the Brown Corporations employ over 250 people and produce sales revenue of over $100 million.
Randy R. Brown
Brown Corperations
Year Inducted: 2004
 

 

 

 

 

 

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image: James Carlson Dr. James D. Carlson is President & CEO of PRACS Institute, Ltd. Dr. James Carlson grew up in a small Iowa town, and came to North Dakota as a faculty member at NDSU in the College of Pharmacy.  In 1983, Carlson co-founded PRACS Institute, Ltd. of Fargo to scientifically compare and evaluate drug products.  The company has since expanded to two new locations, one in East Grand Forks, Minnesota, and one in San Diego, California.  The three locations have over 600 research beds and 13 study units which complete over 360 projects annually with 480 employees.  In 2004, 12,000 people participated in those studies, being paid a total of nearly $12 million.  PRACS Institute, Ltd. is known in the North American clinical research arena as the "gold standard."
Dr. James D. Carlson
PRACS Institute, Ltd.
Year Inducted: 2005
 

 

 

 

 

 

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image: Michael Chambers Michael Andrew Chambers is a native of Carrington, North Dakota, and earned Bachelor's Degrees in biotechnology and microbiology with a minor in chemistry in 1997 from NDSU. He and NDSU graduate student John Ballantyne from New Zealand co-founded Aldevron, LLC in 1998. Aldevron is a prominent and rapidly growing biotechnology company whihc currently employs about 25 people. In 2004, Chambers oversaw the acquisition of Genovc, a German biotech company. With an initial $2.5 million contract, the technology from the two companies will be used to develop new vaccines for the US Department of Defense.
Michael Andrew Chambers
Aldevron, LLC
Year Inducted: 2005
 

 

 

 

 

 

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image: Wade Dokken Wade A. Dokken is the former President and CEO of American Skandia, Inc., one of the fastest growing financial service companies in the United States, which was purchased by Prudential Financial in 2003. Under Dokken's leadership, American Skandia managed approximately $40 billion for nearly 1 million investors. Dokken, a native of Towner, North Dakota, is also the author of the book "New Century, New Deal: How to Turn your Wages into Wealth through Social Security Choice." Dokken attended UND in the early 1980's and studied political science and journalism. Wade is married to Susi Dokken, and together they have three boys; Andrew, 14, Chad, 12 and Blake, 7. After Wade engineered the sale of American Skandia to Prudential in mid 2003, Wade, Susi and the children packed their bags and traveled around the world for the next year.
Wade A. Dokken
American Skandia, INC.
Year Inducted: 2005
 

 

 

 

 

 

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image: Larry Jodsaas Larry E. Jodsaas, Retired Chairman - PolarFab - Larry Jodsaas quit high school in Lisbon, North Dakota when he was 15 years old to work full-time to help support his family. At age 19, Jodsaas joined the Navy, where he served as an electronics technician on submarines. At the same time, he earned his GED through the United States Air Force Institute. After four years in the Navy, Jodsaas attended Wahpeton State College of Science for two years, and then enrolled at UND. He graduated in 1962 with a degree in electrical engineering. Jodsaas worked for Control Data for 28 years, before purchasing the company's semi-conductor division, VTC Inc. In 2000, Larry sold VTC to Lucent Technology, but retained the manufacturing portion of the business. A new company, PolarFab, was formed. PolarFab was a foundry to supply design processes and wafers to independent design companies. In July 2005, PolarFab was sold to Sanken, a Japanese company.
Larry E. Jodsaas
PolarFab
Year Inducted: 2006
 

 

 

 

 

 

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image: Scott Molander Scott Molander, Co-Founder - The Simple Furniture Company & Co-founder - Hat World, Inc. - A native of Crosby, North Dakota, Scott Molander graduated from Dickinson State University in 1988. By 1995, he and a co-worker decided they should open their own business selling hats in malls. The company, Hat World, grew to over 500 stores before it was sold in 2004 for $177.4 million. Molander left the company following the sale and in 2005, launched his second company, The Simple Furniture Company. They manufacture modern looking ready-to-assemble furniture through retail outlets and online. The furniture requires no screws, or fasteners of any kind, and requires no tools to assemble. The furniture is manufactured using a high tech CNC router that manufactures within 1/1000th of an inch tolerances. The company targets young adults living in apartments, condos, and even dorm rooms. In addition to serving as Executive Chairman of The Simple Furniture Company, Molander has rejoined Hat World, Inc. as Director of Leasing for Canada and Airports for North America.
Scott Molander
Simple Furniture Co. &
Hat World, Inc.

Year Inducted: 2006
 

 

 

 

 

 

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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
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