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Nodland: Remembering Gene Fisher

Tuesday, Dec. 17, Dickinson and Southwest North Dakota lost a successful businessman, Gene Fisher.

Gene had a very positive effect on me. My first “real” job after graduating from college was with General Steel & Supply as its first employee and manager in 1972. I knew very little about the business world and especially the highway construction business.

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Gene taught me all aspects of the business and how to deal with people. He had the unique talent to teach people. You listened to him when he talked as you knew he had something important to say. He understood people and knew how to work with anyone to get them to agree with him on his idea of how things should work.

I watched him convince the most highly educated engineers, with national and worldwide companies, that they were wrong in the designing of a piece of equipment. I would witness Gene and Lawrence Huschka, (both self- made engineers with only a high school education), take a factory-made piece of equipment, redesign it, and improve it to operate more efficiently. These two men knew more about how things worked than engineers with doctor degrees.

Gene had the unique ability to understand and have an interest in all areas of interest including government activities. I remember a time when Gene was upset about an issue with the City of Dickinson.

Well, he took the city commissioners to task and straightened the issue out to the satisfaction of the businesses in his area. I feel he would have been very successful in the public service area also.

He had the respect of many state Highway Department directors. They knew if he bid a job, he would get it done right and done on time.

Gene also provided many people with jobs in southwest North Dakota. If you were willing to work, he gave you a job.

You knew you had job security working for Gene. Many individuals had a lifelong career with Gene. He also helped many farmers and ranchers by leasing their gravel pits for their minerals. Some of these farmers and ranchers also worked for Gene part-time to provide timely income to enhance their farm income and stay on the farm.

Gene’s word was all you needed. He operated on his word and a handshake. He had the most “common sense” of any person I knew. He had a memory that would not end.

Today, we need more people like Gene in the business world and the government.

We have too many leaders who rely on their education degree and not their common sense, knowledge, and people skills needed to succeed.

I wish Gene’s children the ability to continue the Fisher family businesses as well as he did. Dickinson and Southwest North Dakota would benefit from it.

George Nodland is a former state senator and Dickinson resident.