Ron Offutt, Roughrider
North Dakota established the Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider Award in 1961. The award recognizes North Dakotans who have achieved national recognition. The Governor consults with the Secretary of State and the director of the State Historical Society to choose the recipients. Forty North Dakotans have received the award. Their portraits are displayed in the lower level of the Capitol.
On this date in 2011, the Governor presented the Rough Rider Award to Ron Offutt. He is both a business leader and a philanthropist. He is the world’s largest producer of potatoes. His potato operation has locations in twelve states on 190,000 acres. In the late 1970s, the business added French-fry production. Offutt’s company is now the primary supplier of frozen French-fries for McDonalds.
In 1968 he purchased a John Deere store in Casselton, North Dakota. He now owns the largest network of John Deere equipment dealerships in the United States. He is the founder of the RDO Equipment Company. The corporate headquarters is located in Fargo.
Offutt’s endeavors have brought more than 500 jobs to North Dakota, and his estimated $500 million net worth makes him the wealthiest person in the state.
In addition to his business activities, Offutt dedicates time to several charities. The Northern Plains Potato Growers Association recognized Offutt for his philanthropy, honoring him with the Meritorious Service Award. He has made generous donations to Concordia College and North Dakota State University. He is a major sponsor of Farm Rescue, an organization that plants and harvests crops free of charge for family growers who have suffered a major illness, injury, or natural disaster. RDO employees are encouraged to volunteer for causes such as Relay for Life and Special Olympics.
Offutt graduated from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota where he majored in economics. After his graduation, he became a partner in his father’s farming operation. He became the fourth generation to work in the family’s potato business.
Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher
North Dakota Office of the Governor. "http://governor.nd.gov/theodore-roosevelt-rough-rider-award" http://governor.nd.gov/theodore-roosevelt-rough-rider-award Accessed 3 July, 2014.
RDO Equipment Company. "http://www.rdoequipment.com/news/news.item.view.html?newsItemId=15#.U7XeCBEg_cc" http://www.rdoequipment.com/news/news.item.view.html?newsItemId=15#.U7XeCBEg_cc Accessed 3 July, 2014.