Ron Offutt, founder and Chairman Emeritus of the R. D. Offutt Company, the United States’ largest producer of potatoes, spoke about his business success on the final day of Manitoba Potato Production Days in Brandon on January 28.
He contributes his success to strong partnerships, finding marketplace voids and focusing on customer satisfaction.
“What has been a key to our success has been looking for a void in the marketplace and finding a way to fill that void."
“To truly be successful you need to have customer satisfaction. It is not an option. It is what you build your business on.”
“I learnt an immense amount from my father. He taught me the ropes and what it really meant to run the family farm.”
“At the time I got into potato production, the country was on the edge of tremendous growth in the french fry industry and any time you are in a sector with that kind of growth it becomes much easier to grow and grow successfully.”
“Partnerships are the reason I have been so successful. Any time I have begun a new venture I have found myself the best possible person to work with and that has made all of the difference. You can’t do everything on your own."
“After all these years, we are still a family business, a family farm. My children are involved in different aspects of the business and have brought skills to the table that I have never had. They have been able to continue to evolve the business.
The R.D. Offutt Story
Ron Offutt, Founder and Chairman Emeritus of the R. D. Offutt Company
Its cornerstone is a nine-state 190,000 acre farming operation, with all of its 60,000 potato acres under center pivot irrigation. Part of the farming operation includes a 34,000 acre farm and dairy operation in Boardman, Oregon, which consists of three dairies, milking 25,000 cows.
The company also operates food processing manufacturing plants and markets its crops through relationships with major processors, such as Simplot, Con-Agra/Lamb-Weston, McCain Foods and Frito-Lay.
Internationally, R. D. Offutt Company formed a joint venture with Calbee Corporation in 2006 to build a plant in Boardman, Oregon, to source potato product for snack food in Japan and other markets. This has expanded to the formation of Calbee North America and additional plants in Fairfield, CA. and Senatobia, MS. R. D. Offutt Company operates a 22,000 acre farm in Krasnodar, Russia as well.
Ron Offutt is also the Founder and Chairman Emeritus of RDO Equipment Co. Founded in 1968, the company owns the largest network of John Deere construction and agricultural equipment dealerships in the country. Vermeer, Topcon, and Volvo and Mack truck centers are also integral operations of the company, which now has over eighty U.S. locations in ten states. Internationally, RDO Equipment Co. is a John Deere Agricultural and Construction Equipment dealer with partnerships in Russia, Ukraine and Australia.
Ron, a native of Orrick, Missouri, grew up on his family’s farm in Moorhead, Minnesota. He attended Moorhead High School and graduated from Concordia College in 1964 with a degree in Economics. He is the former Chairman of the Board of Regents of Concordia College, Moorhead, MN, where he has served his alma mater on its board for more than twenty years. Currently he is a member of the Global Leadership Board of the Offutt School of Business at Concordia College and a member of the Board of Regents.
Ron is one of 41 recipients of the Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider Award, which recognizes North Dakotans who have achieved national excellence in their fields of endeavor. He has also received numerous other regional and national awards for his contributions, including an Honorary Doctorate from North Dakota State University and an Honorary Doctorate of Leadership and Philanthropy from the University of Mary.
Ron continues to be active in the community, serving on multiple other boards and dedicates his time to several organizations and charities. He and his wife Karen, have six children and eleven grandchildren.