The Story of Ron Offutt
Ron Offutt is one of North Dakota’s premier business leaders and philanthropists, having established RDO Equipment Company with its network of John Deere construction and agriculture equipment dealerships that provide jobs, revenue, and opportunities to the state.
Building the ideal french fry comes at a cost, as those living nearby his potato fields learn first-hand. Producing it requires using chemicals and spray planes heavily.
Early Life and Education
Ron Offutt’s journey as the founder and chairman emeritus of RDO Equipment Co. stands out among North Dakota business history as one of its most captivating. Notably, Offutt was responsible for building one of the world’s largest chains of John Deere stores alongside numerous agriprocessing operations and equipment retail ventures.
Offutt began cultivating potatoes in 1970 in Hubbard County on lighter sandy soils despite predictions by many observers that he would fail. Yet Offutt proved them wrong and quadrupled his acreage within four years!
Hiram Drache has long documented the region’s commercial agricultural history. Over time he has come to revere ‘Ronnie,’ calling him one of the greatest entrepreneurs to emerge from Red River Valley.
Offutt has excelled at leading his business ventures. As its leader, he established numerous equipment and truck centers across North Dakota as well as his cornerstone: an 180,000 acre farming operation focused on producing potatoes.
After graduating with an economics degree from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota and being active on its football and wrestling teams, he purchased a John Deere store in Casselton as his initial step to starting up companies he would eventually manage.
Paul attributes his success to the collaboration and dedication of his employees as well as an unrelenting focus on customer service. His reputation for problem-solving stems from years of working closely with people; Christi, chairwoman of RDO Equipment Co. is known to quickly recognize any needs and act upon them quickly.
Achievement and Honors
Offutt has received several honors during his long and distinguished career, such as being honored with induction into the North Dakota Agriculture Hall of Fame at Valley City during the 78th North Dakota Winter Show, serving on both Concordia College Moorhead’s Board of Regents and Global Leadership Council, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1964.
Early this year, he was surprised and honored to receive the Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider Award – a highly esteemed recognition given annually to North Dakotans who have made notable contributions nationwide through various fields of endeavor. When informed of his selection by the selection committee, he expressed his thanks and thanked them profusely.
Offutt’s other business activities include a potato processing plant and an extensive network of John Deere farm equipment centers across the country. He founded Fargo-Moorhead Downtown Community Partnership and currently sits on several boards such as NDSU Team Makers Club and Northern Plains Potato Growers Association. Furthermore, Offutt is also one of the major sponsors for Farm Rescue which plants and harvests family farms suffering due to illness, accident or natural disaster free of charge.
Ron Offutt believes it’s crucial for businesses to understand that they’re in more than just the product business; they also serve customers and people. As their flight takes off for Fargo, he details why businesses must recognize they provide services not just through products but also people and customer care.
He was born in 1942 to a family with roots dating back to the 1600s in North America, spending his early years on the farm in Clay County Minnesota before enrolling at Moorhead High School where he excelled as an FFA member as well as football and wrestling athlete.
His business operations now cover twelve states and include food processing manufacturing businesses, potato production agribusinesses and John Deere store enterprises that specialize in vehicle sales, rental and real estate.
Ron Offutt and his family have amassed an impressive business empire. Their multifaceted operation encompasses farming, potato processing, John Deere dealerships and numerous equipment-related businesses with estimated gross revenues exceeding $2 billion.
His children are also actively involved with the business; Christi serves as RDO Equipment chair while her husband Keith McGovern serves as President.
He is widely revered as a philanthropist and holds numerous real estate investments across the country. His companies have provided jobs in North Dakota and his cornerstone is a multi-state, 190,000 acre farming operation producing potatoes – even providing french fries to McDonald’s Corporation! RDO Equipment now operates over 70 locations nationwide; in fact it is also considered the world’s largest John Deere dealer.