Patrons of Enerbase may have had a bit of a shock when they opened the most recent edition of Prairie Partners Outlook, the company's newsletter magazine, as longtime general manager Art Perdue announced his retirement at the end of the year after serving the company for more than a quarter century.
"Twenty-six years is a long time to be at a business," he said. "We've had a lot of growth during my time here, from $10 million (in 1983) to $130 million (in 2008) ... but you would have always like to do twice as much as you did."
After Perdue's announcement, the company began looking for his replacement in July and after several interviews, Tony Bernhardt of Rugby was chosen to succeed him.
Whitney Pandil-Eaton/MDN •
After serving as Enerbase’s general manager for 26 years, Art Perdue, left, is retiring at the end of the year. Taking the reins from Purdue is Tony Bernhardt, right, who has more than 20 years of management experience in the cooperative business system.
"I'm nervously excited," he said. "I look forward to meeting and getting to know people in the surrounding area and I want to encourage people to come in and chat with me - I'm a communicator. I think it is very important to keep the line of communication open with Art's people to me."
Although this is Bernhardt's first job with Enerbase, he is no stranger to the cooperative business system, having worked at Farmers Union Oil Company of Mohall/Sherwood for 11 years before moving to Farmers Union Oil Company of Rugby/Towner/Wolford where he has acted as the general manager for the last 13 years.
While Bernhardt officially takes over at the beginning of the year, he has been spending the month of December pulling double duty.
Prairie Profile is a weekly feature profiling interesting people in our region. We welcome suggestions from our readers. Call Regional Editor Eloise Ogden at 857-1944 or Managing Editor Kent Olson at 857-1939. Either can be reached at 1-800-735-3229. You also can send e-mail suggestions to email@example.com.
Commuting between Rugby and Minot, he spends part of his time in Minot learning the business procedures of Enerbase and the other time continuing in his managerial capacity at Rugby.
"I want to make sure Rugby is okay but I also want to get acclimated to the procedures here because we want to avoid any bumps in the road during the transition," Bernhardt said.
With Enerbase's numerous business facets, Bernhardt said he is eager to jump in come January.
"I believe there are a lot of opportunities here to continue the path Enerbase is on but it's really about developing more of the same. We want to continue to service our existing customers and expand," he said. "The sky is really the limit."
Although both men said they are excited about the future, this experience has been bittersweet.
"I've enjoyed my time here but I think the last day might be a little hard," Perdue said.
"It gets emotional and you get choked up, which is a good thing," Bernhardt said. "Because when your heart is there you have passion and desire, which go hand in hand with good business."