|Entrepreneur, innovators banquet set for Nov. 9|
Please join us for the North Dakota Entrepreneur Hall of Fame and Business Innovator of the Year Awards Ceremony Thursday, Nov. 9. A reception will be held at 6 p.m. at the Skalicky Tech Incubator, 4300 James Ray Dr, followed by an awards banquet at the Hilton Garden Inn at 7 p.m. Tickets to the awards ceremony are $25, and are available by contacting the Center for Innovation at 777-3132 or by e-mail at email@example.com. Please RSVP by Monday, Nov. 6.
Long-time Fargo entrepreneur Ronald D. Offutt will be inducted into the North Dakota Entrepreneur Hall of Fame, and Larry E. Jodsaas and Scott Molander will be recognized as North Dakota Business Innovators of the Year for 2006.
Offutt, founder, chairman and CEO of R.D. Offutt Company and RDO Equipment Co., was raised on the family farm in Moorhead, Minn. He received a bachelor's degree in economics from Concordia College (Moorhead) in 1964. Just four years later, Offutt founded R.D. Offutt Company, comprised of a variety of businesses which now employs 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, Ga. french fry plant. Today, the company owns eight plants and processes over 500 million pounds of potatoes.
Jodsaas, retired chairman of PolarFab, quit high school in Lisbon, N.D., when he was 15 years old to work full-time to help support his family. At age 19, he 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, 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, which was a foundry to supply design processes and wafers to independent design companies. In July 2005, PolarFab was sold to Sanken, a Japanese company.
Scott Molander, co-founder of The Simple Furniture Company and co-founder of Hat World, Inc., is a native of Crosby, N.D. He graduated from Dickinson State University in 1988, and by 1995, he and a co-worker decided to 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. It 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.
The North Dakota Entrepreneur Hall of Fame was established in 1986 by the Center for Innovation to recognize North Dakota entrepreneurs and inventors for their long-standing entrepreneurial contributions to the state and nation. These people built and created products, processes, technologies, businesses and organizations. They solved problems and invented new concepts. By doing so, they contributed immeasurably to our higher standard of living, our economy, and our general well-being as they enjoyed professional success.
The North Dakota Business Innovator of the Year Award was established in 1989 to recognize North Dakota’s entrepreneurs who are discovering new and better ways of serving their customers, changing the way business is done, exploring new frontiers and building through excellence. The innovators are leaders who are enhancing productivity, competitiveness, growth and diversity of our state’s and nation’s economy. The award recognizes recent innovative and entrepreneurial achievements.