Gov. Jack Dalrymple today presented the North Dakota Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider Award to business leader and philanthropist Ronald D. Offutt during the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce annual meeting in Fargo. Joined by family, friends, and community and business leaders, Dalrymple unveiled a portrait of Offutt that will hang in the state Capitol building in Bismarck, along with the portraits of other notable North Dakotans. Offutt is the 38th North Dakotan to receive the award, which is the state's highest commendation for its citizens.

"Ron Offutt is one of our state and nation's premiere business leaders who has gained national recognition for his visionary leadership, entrepreneurism and philanthropy," Dalrymple said. "He has been a strong job creator for North Dakota, and his many business enterprises have contributed to the growth of our agriculture industry and to the diversification of our economy. Because of his long and distinguished business career and his numerous philanthropic contributions, he is being honored today for all he has accomplished on behalf of our great state."

Offutt is the founder and chairman of R. D. Offutt Company, the nation's largest producer of potatoes, and RDO Equipment Company, the largest network of John Deere construction and agricultural equipment dealerships in the United States. The company's corporate headquarters is located in Fargo.

His companies and partnerships have resulted in several equipment and truck center locations across the state, the creation of more than 500 jobs, an average annual payroll of more than $25 million, and three farm partnerships that grow nearly 12,000 acres of potatoes annually. In addition to his economic contributions, he is highly respected for his philanthropy and civic involvement, serving on multiple boards and dedicating his time to several organizations and charities.

Offutt attended Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn., where he majored in economics and starred in football and wrestling. After graduating from Concordia in 1964, he became a business partner in his father's farming operation and became the fourth generation to work in his family's potato business. After four years of farming with his father, he pursued the goal of owning a John Deere implement dealership. In 1968, he purchased the Casselton John Deere store and began laying the foundation for the companies he founded, and still owns and operates today. 

His business operations are divided into three separate operating units: agriculture, food processing and retail equipment. The R. D. Offutt Company is comprised of a variety of businesses, and has 1,500 employees nationwide. The cornerstone is a twelve-state, 190,000-acre farming operation. The company also operates a 26,000-acre farm and dairy operation in Boardman, Ore., and operates food processing manufacturing plants and markets its crops through relationships with major processors such as Frito-Lay, Simplot, Con-Agra/Lamb-Weston, and McCain Foods.

Offutt's RDO Equipment Co. employs over 1,500 people nationwide and has over 60 locations in nine states. Vermeer and Topcon machine control products are also integral divisions within the company.

In addition, RDO Truck Center operates three locations and employs nearly 90 individuals, and provides and supports Mack and Volvo heavy duty trucks.

An honorary rank of Colonel in the Theodore Roosevelt Rough Riders was established during the 1961 Dakota Territory Centennial. The award recognizes present and former North Dakotans who have been influenced by the state in achieving national recognition in their fields of endeavor, thereby reflecting credit and honor upon North Dakota and its citizens.