Ronald Offutt – The Sultan of Spuds and Lord of the Fries
Ronald Offutt rarely sits still for interviews; as the world’s largest potato grower and operator of John Deere stores.
Offutt’s fiery football style on the field may have earned him some notoriety among opponents and coaches, yet that same aggressive nature is helping him stand out in business circles.
Early Life and Education
Ronald Offutt is one of the most successful potato farmers and entrepreneurs the Red River Valley has ever produced, as well as being an outstanding philanthropist – his donation of the Offutt School of Business to Concordia College Moorhead North Dakota is one of its largest-ever gifts to an academic institution in its history.
Offutt was born in Orrick, Missouri and raised on a farm in rural Clay County. After high school in Moorhead – where he excelled at football and wrestling – Offutt attended college to earn a degree in economics.
After graduating, Offutt went into partnership with his father and spent four years farming before coming across an opportunity that would alter his path: in 1968 a John Deere dealership for sale near Casselton was for sale and Offutt knew that buying it could turn it into an even greater financial success than his family’s potato business.
Ron Offutt of North Dakota has become known as “the Sultan of Spuds” and “Lord of the Fries,” due largely to his success with perfect french fries. Additionally, he’s established dealerships selling construction equipment and John Deere farm machinery.
Offutt’s roots run deep in farming, yet when he enrolled at Concordia College in 1964 to study economics he didn’t set out to become one. Instead he balanced school, football and farming while earning his degree.
Offutt School of Business was named in his honor at Boston College, and he remains on its Board. Additionally, he serves on other company and charity boards.
Achievement and Honors
Ronald Offutt is a member of both the Farm Foundation Round Table and Rabobank North American Agribusiness Advisors Council, serving also on the boards of Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce and Northern Plains Ethics Institute.
RDO Equipment Co is led by R&D Offutt as its founder and Chairman, operating one of the largest networks of John Deere construction and agricultural equipment dealerships across North Dakota and Northwest Minnesota. R&D Offutt Foundation also receives major contributions from RDO Equipment Co to improve life throughout their respective communities.
The foundation specializes in education, youth leadership, and community needs. Its mission is rooted in hard work, character and integrity – in 2008 the foundation donated $2 Million to Concordia College in Moorhead Minnesota so students could fulfill their dreams of attaining strong academic foundations and successful careers.
Offutt’s family farm in North Dakota has become one of McDonald’s primary sources for potatoes, while his sprawling business includes one of the world’s largest networks of John Deere equipment dealerships. Still, Offutt prioritizes spending his free time relaxing at his Oregon ranch with his family.
Before departing in his plane, he reads the morning papers – The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, USDA Today and Wall Street Journal – on his treadmill before handing copies out to fellow passengers – both friends and family members alike.
As he does not wish to create jealousy among residents in states with anticorporate farming laws that still exist, he spreads his land across 10 states and leases or swaps out half.
Offutt remains modest despite his remarkable success; driving plain white pickup trucks without logos, keeping low profile. His family business, RDO Equipment Company is one of the largest networks of John Deere equipment dealerships nationwide.
In the late 1970s, the company expanded into potato production and is now the primary provider of frozen French fries to McDonald’s across twelve states and 190,000 acres.
He is widely respected for his generous philanthropy, giving away millions for education and research. Concordia College even honored him by naming their School of Business after him after receiving the lead gift for its construction. Much of his wealth comes from his huge potato farming operation and real estate investments.