2006 Alumni Achievement Award Recipient -
Ronald O. Bergan
B.S. 1965, Animal Science
M.S. 1966, Agricultural Economics
Ron Bergan was born and raised in Dunn County, ND. Mr. Bergan received his Bachelor of Science in Animal Science in 1965 and Masters of Science in 1966 in Agricultural Economics from North Dakota State University. While at NDSU he met and married Mary Alice Berg. Following graduation, Ron worked in the NDSU Agricultural Economics Department for a year before joining Keifer Realty as a salesman before starting his own real estate company.
In 1975, Mr. Bergan, his brother Curt, and Gary Zespy bought a small West Fargo company (two employees) that made wire harnesses and moved the company to Fargo as an investment and a possible job for his brother. Within a few months the fledgling company named Fargo Assembly took all of Ron’s time, and he dropped real estate. Slowly, the company grew, and in 1984 a new building was constructed in Fargo’s industrial park. In the beginning their biggest customers were Bobcat and Steiger. Bobcat has remained the largest to this day.
By 1985, the company had 40 employees, and Ron bought out his two partners. Mary Alice joined the company and became the CFO and treasurer. Since then the company has grown to a total of seven plants in North Dakota (two in Fargo; one each in Lisbon, Edgeley, Ellendale, Michigan, and Lehr) with approximately 800 employees. Ron believes in the North Dakota small town work ethic and has tried to incorporate that into the business. Fargo Assembly’s business model of small town plants is their answer to “low cost countries”.
In 1992, Ron purchased a Pennsylvania wire harness company with five plants in three states. He lived in the East for a time to install Fargo Assembly Company’s methods and business philosophy. The name was changed to Fargo Assembly of PA and operates as a completely separate entity with 700 employees.
Four more wire harness companies were acquired since that time – one each in Minnesota, Mississippi, Iowa and Pennsylvania. Today, some of the largest customers for the North Dakota operations include Bobcat, Harley Davidson, John Deere, Case-New Holland, and Arctic Cat. Sales, including the acquisitions, exceeded $125 million in 2005 with 1,800 employees and 16 plants in 7 states.
Ron has always sought to remain competitive in the constantly changing world of manufacturing. He has been blessed with being able to hire very good and innovative workers who have designed and built much of the equipment used today. Computer programs written by Fargo Assembly people are used in all aspects of the wire harness business and are a big part of making it successful. He also credits his retired president of 13 years, Harold Legreid, with the expansion into small North Dakota towns as well as the hiring of new Americans in large numbers. Mary Alice continues to be a key person in the company.
Fargo Assembly provides scholarships for its employees to attend NDSU. Ron also established two NDSU scholarships in memory of his parents, Orville and Nora Bergan. From the beginning, Fargo Assembly has employed NDSU students and likes to hire NDSU graduates.
In their spare time Ron and Mary Alice love to watch most of the NDSU athletic teams. Ron loves business and is trying to pass along some of his ideas by mentoring a young Fargo businessman as well as hoping to do more of that in the future.