As agribusiness man Ron D. Offutt and Concordia College get set to host entrepreneur/philanthropist Bill Gates this weekend in Moorhead, Minn., it was also the occasion of the unveiling of a new book about Offutt.
The book is the latest of 14 books written by Hiram Drache of Fargo, the historian in residence at Concordia, a long-time friend of Offutt. The book, “R.D. Offutt: Success and Significance” is a 280-page piece that includes black-and-white photos.
Offutt is known as the world’s largest individual potato producer. His R.D. Offutt Company, based in Fargo. Offutt also is the founder of the RDO Equipment Co., which is the largest string of John Deere ag and construction equipment dealerships in the country. Gates is the guest for the dedication of the Grant Center, home of the new Offutt School of Business at the college.
In promoting this book, Drache is emphasizing Offutt’s rise as a self-made man.
Among other things, he tells about Offutt’s potato farming father, of the same name, who Drache says was a “visionary but had difficulty in implementing management skills.” According to the book, the junior “Ronnie” worked his way through college and declined to be an employee but insisted on being a partner in his parents’ farm. The thought overwhelmed his parents, but they agree on the condition that he sign a note to them for one-half of their net worth and co-sign all their financial obligations,” Drache writes. “Starting with a negative net worth and without any master plan or vision of creating an agricultural empire, Ronnie, who had great people skills and excelled in developing partnerships” went on to create the far-flung potato farming and processing enterprises, as well as the equipment business. Offutt served as the chairman of the governing board at Concordia, his alma mater.
The book is available through Hobar Publications, now a division of Finney Company. It can be obtained by visiting www.finneyco.com or by calling 952-469-6699. The hardcover price is $29.95.
Drache, 88, this past week also revealed the publication of his 13th book – “Where’s Meriden?: The Demise of Small Town U.S.A.” That book (Agweek, April 22, 2013) discusses the economic history and depopulation of the township where he grew up near Owatonna, Minn.