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Creating & building companies

Gjovig tells stories of entrepreneurs from ND

Submitted Photo Bruce Gjovig, CEO emeritus of the University of North Dakota Center for Innovation Foundation in Grand Forks, continues to look for stories about entrepreneurs in North Dakota and northwest Minnesota.

What do Clint Severson, president and CEO of Abaxis Global Diagnostics; the late Joe Whitty, founder of Happy Joe’s Pizza and Ice Cream Parlor; and more than 40 other native North Dakotans have in common?

Crosby native Bruce Gjovig, CEO emeritus of the University of North Dakota Center for Innovation Foundation in Grand Forks, is bringing Severson, originally from Minot, Whitty, originally from Des Lacs and Minot, and others to the forefront in his second book on North Dakota Innovative Entrepreneurs. The book is published by Smoky Water Press of Bismarck and available at regional bookstores or online at DakotaBookNet.com. It includes a forward by U.S. Sen. John Hoeven.

“The 2019 book profiled 64 innovative entrepreneurs who built their company in North Dakota or northwest Minnesota,” said Gjovig.

Gjovig said his newest book, “Innovative Entrepreneurs from North Dakota: 125 Years of Impact!” profiles 46 individuals “who are tied to North Dakota but realized their entrepreneur success elsewhere in the world.”

“In both books they needed to be both an innovator – being first at something – and a successful entrepreneur for at least 20 years,” Gjovig said.

Others featured in the book include:

– (Grand Forks ) Ralph Engelstad, Las Vegas developer and owner of the Imperial Palace Hotel;

– (Esmond) Gilmore “Shelly” Schjeldahl, plastics and electronics innovator, pioneer in developing NASA satellite balloons;

– (Fessenden) Ron Olson, CEO of Grow Biz International and NTY franchise company;

– (Harvey) Patrick Haggerty, president of Texas Instruments;

– (Bowdon) John Crean, international pioneer in the recreational vehicle industry and founder of the Fleetwood RV company;

– (Carrington) Hugh Moore, CEO of Cetec Corporation, an industry leader in manufacturing microphones, aviation radar and broadcast antennas, transmitters and tape duplicators;

– (Ambrose) Clarence “Mac” Myhre, founder and president of Frontier Airlines;

– (Crosby) Scott Molander, founder and CEO of Hat World and Lids retail stores;

– (Ross-Stanley) Stanley Moe, a founder of DMJM, the international architecture, planning and engineering firm;

– (Stanley) Ray Rude, inventor and manufacturer of the Duraflex aluminum diving board;

– (Upham) Glenn Welstad, founder and CEO of Labor Ready and Command Staffing day labor service businesses;

– (Grassy Butte/Medora) Don Townsend, founder of Tad’s Steakhouse chain and known as the “grandfather of the fast-food business.”

Gjovig said he used many sources for his information including newspaper articles, obituaries, magazine articles, books and also descendants or relatives. “I am thankful for DuckDuckGo search engine as well,” he said.

He said there are other entrepreneurs in North Dakota besides those he has featured in his two books.

“We had nearly 200 candidates on the first book and pared that down to 64,” he said. “I had about 140 candidates for the second book and got that down to 46. Some of those stories still need to be told.”

Gjovig said there will be future books “so I welcome more entrepreneur nominations at Bruce@Gjovig.net. Information about entrepreneurs and innovators in North Dakota and northwest Minnesota also can be sent to him at 111 N. 3rd St., #2013, Grand Forks, ND 58203.

What does Gjovig attribute to the large number of North Dakotans who are entrepreneurs or who might be on their way to becoming an entrepreneur?

“Because North Dakota is rural and remote there’s a high degree of self-reliance and desire to figure things out – solve problems for yourself. That attitude fosters creativity which leads to innovation, and self reliance leads to independence and a willingness to go out on your own. Innovators are great at solving problems others have not, leading to a business opportunity. Others have insight into an opportunity and find ways to capture that opportunity with a business,” Gjovig said.

(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 call 1-800-735-3229. You also can send email suggestions to eogden@minotdailynews.com.)

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