ND entrepreneur Dahl named Rough Rider Award recipient

BISMARCK - Eugene Dahl, who is credited with creating thousands of manufacturing jobs in North Dakota, has been named the 43rd recipient of the state's Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider Award.

BISMARCK – Eugene Dahl, who is credited with creating thousands of manufacturing jobs in North Dakota, has been named the 43rd recipient of the state’s Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider Award.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple made the announcement Wednesday, Oct. 12.

Dahl, who led the growth of several equipment manufacturing businesses, including Bobcat and Steiger, died in 2008.

“Eugene Dahl was an extraordinary leader, entrepreneur and philanthropist whose name is synonymous with innovation in manufacturing and agriculture not only in North Dakota, but nationally and globally,” Dalrymple said in a news release. “He played a pivotal role in some of North Dakota’s largest manufacturing businesses, including Bobcat and Steiger, and was instrumental in bringing jobs and economic opportunities to the state. Eugene also mentored his sons and other young entrepreneurs in creating businesses such as Concord, Amity Technology and Phoenix, laying the foundation for another generation of successful manufacturing innovation. His numerous achievements and innovative spirit will have a lasting impact on our state and our people.”

A native of Gwinner, Dahl graduated from Gwinner High School and attended North Dakota State University and Michigan State University before serving in World War II.


After the war, he finished his education at the University of North Dakota with a degree in math and chemistry.

In 1947, he married Evelyn Melroe. They taught school for one year in Cavalier before returning to their hometown of Gwinner where Dahl became a partner in the Melroe Co., which was founded by Evelyn Dahl’s father, E.G. Melroe. Dahl and his four brothers-in-law built the Melroe Manufacturing Co., now known as Bobcat, before selling it in 1970 to Clark Equipment. Bobcat is North Dakota’s largest manufacturer, producing skid-steer loaders with sales across the globe.

In 1971, Dahl assumed the role of CEO of Steiger Tractor and the family moved to Fargo. Under his leadership, the company grew from $2 million to $105 million in sales in six years, and the company became a world leader in the manufacture of four-wheel drive tractors. While at Steiger, Dahl formed one of the first employee stock ownership plans in the nation. Steiger was sold to JI Case in 1986.

He also served two terms in the North Dakota House of Representatives.

Dahl co-founded First Dakota Capital, North Dakota’s first venture capital firm, and served as the first chairman of the Center for Innovation at UND. He served on numerous boards and received many honors, including an honorary doctorate from UND, induction into the North Dakota Entrepreneurial Hall of Fame and the 2008 NDSU Harvest Bowl Agribusiness Award.

Dalrymple will officially present Dahl’s family with the award at a 2 p.m. ceremony on Oct. 28 at the Sanctuary Events Center, 670 4th Ave. N., Fargo. During the program, Dalrymple will unveil a portrait of Dahl that will hang in the state Capitol in Bismarck.

The Rough Rider Award recognizes present and former North Dakotans who have been influenced by the state in achieving national recognition in their fields of endeavor, thereby reflecting credit and honor upon the state and its citizens.

Previous Rough Rider Award winners


Lawrence Welk, entertainer, Aug. 28, 1961

Dorothy Stickney, actress, Nov. 2, 1961

Ivan Dmitri, artist, April 13, 1962

Roger Maris, athlete, Jan. 4, 1964

Eric Sevareid, journalist, April 17, 1964

Gen. Harold K. Johnson, military service, April 23, 1965

Dr. Anne H. Carlsen, educator, Sept. 9, 1966

Edward K. Thompson, journalist, April 19, 1968


Dr. Robert Henry Bahmer, archiving, uly 28, 1970

Louis L’Amour, author, May 26, 1972

Bertin C. Gamble, entrepreneur, Oct. 20, 1972

Casper Oimoen, athlete, Feb. 12, 1973

Peggy Lee, entertainer, May 23, 1975

Harold Schafer, entrepreneur, July 4, 1975

Era Bell Thompson, journalist, Aug. 14, 1976

Dr. Leon Orris Jacobson, physician, Oct. 1, 1976

Elizabeth Bodine, humanitarian, July 27, 1979

Phyllis Frelich, actress, April 27, 1981

Cliff “Fido” Purpur, athlete, May 16, 1981

Gen. David C. Jones, mlitary service, May 21, 1982

Ronald N. Davies, judge, June 11, 1987

Phil Jackson, athlete, July 30, 1992

Larry Woiwode, author, Oct. 23, 1992

Angie Dickinson, actress, Dec. 2, 1992

Rev. Richard C. Halverson, minister, March 26, 1994

Brynhild Haugland, legislator, March 20, 1995

Adm. William A. Owens, military service, Jan. 29, 1996

Carl Ben Eielson, pioneer aviator, Aug. 26, 1997

Warren Christopher, public service, June 20, 1998

Bobby Vee, entertainer, June 20, 1999

Chester “Chet” Reiten, entrepreneur, Oct. 8, 2002

Thomas J. Clifford, entrepreneur, Nov. 23, 2002

Sister Thomas Welder, educator, May 1, 2004

Harry J. Pearce, business leader, Aug. 11, 2004

William C. Marcil, business leader, May 18, 2006

Master Sgt. Woodrow Wilson Keeble, military service, July 23, 2008

Doug Burgum, entrepreneur, Nov. 20, 2009

Ron D. Offutt, business leader, Sept. 15, 2011

Louise Erdrich, author, April 19, 2013

Herman Stern, business leader and humanitarian, March 13, 2014

Gerald W. VandeWalle, elected official, Jan. 7, 2015

John D. Odegard, aviator, Sept. 17, 2015



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