Fargo, ND

The richest person in Fargo, ND

Ash Jurberg

Taylor Grote/Unsplash

Recently Forbes released a list of all the billionaires in the United States. While some familiar names are at the top of the list, I always like to look for interesting stories that stand out amongst the lucky people on the list to share with readers.

Today it is time to look at the wealthiest person living in Fargo, North Dakota, and at how he made his vast fortune.

The wealthiest person in Fargo

"What started as a single hotel purchase in 1982 became the backbone of the vision of developing the best properties across the United States." Gary Tharaldson

With a net worth of $900 million, which makes him the wealthiest person in Fargo and the entire state of North Dakota is Gary Tharaldson. Tharaldson became North Dakota's first billionaire a few years ago, but his wealth has dipped slightly since then.

Let's take a look at his journey.

Tharaldson was born in 1945 and grew up in Dazey, North Dakota, one of six children. His childhood home didn’t have running water or heat. And, when he was in high school, he would work for $50 a month on a local farm,

He graduated from Valley City (N.D.) State University with degrees in both business administration and teaching. Upon graduation, he worked at North Dakota State University in Fargo and also taught school in Leonard, North Dakota, for two years.

He left his teaching work to sell insurance, where his sales skills made him one of the leading agents in the state, and by the time he was 27 had over 100 salespeople working for him.

In 1982 he made yet another career change and decided to move into the motel business- despite having little knowledge of the industry. He purchased a Super 8 motel in Valley City, North Dakota, and refurbished it. This earned him a nice profit, and Tharaldson Hospitality was off and running.

Within ten years, his business was earning him $6 million a year, and Hotel and Resort Industry magazine called Tharaldson "a modern-day entrepreneurial and financial guru for the U.S. motel development and management industry."

"I like to take a concept and duplicate it. We're no different from a manufacturer. We make a good product and we keep making it. But we also have to be willing to change as you go." Gary Tharaldson

Since 1982, Gary Tharaldson has opened over 400 hotel properties across the United States. In addition, he has been instrumental in developing prototype properties for the likes of Marriott and Hilton. Currently, his company Tharaldson Hospitality Management owns 80 hotels across 19 states and still maintains its corporate offices located in Fargo.

"I have an obligation to our employees to make it good for them as long as I can," Gary Tharaldson

Despite his wealth, Tharaldson still maintains a relatively frugal lifestyle. No doubt a throwback to his childhood days.

Fargo readers, have any of you met or worked for Gary Tharaldson? What was the experience like?

As always, please leave your comments in the section below.

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