BookMarks Blog

January 20, 2020

150 Years of Impact: Crosby native co-authors book on innovators and entrepreneurs




By Eloise Ogden, Minot Daily News

After co-authoring a recently released book about innovators and entrepreneurs, Bruce Gjovig is looking for more stories about people in North Dakota and northwest Minnesota who have built great businesses.

Originally from Crosby in northwest North Dakota’s Divide County, Gjovig is CEO Emeritus of the University of North Dakota Center for Innovation Foundation in Grand Forks. He was the center’s founder, CEO and entrepreneur coach. Today he is a strategic adviser to Grand Sky, the nation’s first drone airport and drone tech park at Grand Forks Air Force Base.

Gjovig along with Hiram Drache wrote “Innovative Entrepreneurs of North Dakota and Northwest Minnesota: 150 Years of Impact!” Drache is historian-in-residence at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn., and the author of several books and numerous articles on present-day agriculture and/or agriculture history.

Seventy-six innovators and entrepreneurs in 65 chapters in the book cover 150 years to present day. The book is published by Smoky Water Press in Bismarck.

For example, Harris Baukol, who started Baukol-Noonan Coal Company in 1929, is one of the featured innovators and entrepreneurs. Baukol-Noonan Coal Company grew into North Dakota’s lowest cost and largest coal-producing company and the eighth largest in the nation. Baukol was the first to use new surface mining procedures and revegetation programs for reclamation. The company is the forerunner of BNI Coal Ltd.

Phil Gisi, who grew up on a farm near New Rockford, is another featured innovator and entrepreneur. He is majority owner, chairman and CEO of Edgewood Healthcare, LLC. The company develops, operates and manages independent living, assisted living and memory care communities across the Upper Midwest including in Minot. The company has grown to one of the largest privately held senior housing operators in the U.S.

Harold Schafer, another innovator and entrepreneur was born on a farm near Stanton. In 1942 he started the Gold Seal Company and produced Glass Wax, Snowy Bleach and Mr. Bubble. He then put the profits of the company into the restoration and development of Medora, a leading tourist attraction in North Dakota.

Stories about two North Dakota governors are included in the book – present Gov. Doug Burgum and past Gov. Jack Dalrymple.

Burgum has more than 30 years in the software industry, is founder of the Kilbourne Group that has redeveloped dozens of buildings in Fargo and co-founder of Arthur Ventures, a company raising millions of dollars invested in numerous ventures.

Dalrymple was the chief organizer and founding Board Chairman of Dakota Growers Pasta Company, a company tht became the third largest pasta manufacturer in North America and the fourth largest in the world.

“Innovative Entrepreneurs of North Dakota and Northwest Minnesota: 150 Years of Impact!” is available online at

Gjovig would like to receive more stories about innovators and entrepreneurs for future projects including possibly another book. Anyone with such stories can send them to him at