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Who is the richest person in North Dakota?

It makes sense that the territory of Dakota was split into two, as both states are massive. While massive in terms of actual land area, it’s a whole other story population wise. North Dakota has a population of around 770 thousand, making it one of the least densely populated regions on Earth. So you might find the idea of listing the richest person in North Dakota to be rather…pointless. Luckily, some industries do not rely on high population numbers, but on the physical worth of their land. The oil business is one of such industries.

In recent years, oil extraction has become a major beam, propping up North Dakota’s economy. Billions have been made and invested because of it. In fact, North Dakota houses the start of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The pipeline is an 18 hundred kilometer long oil pipeline constructed at a cost of several billion dollars. Such is the power of North Dakota’s oil industry. Yet the biggest industry in the state is completely different – agriculture. So it may surprise you that the richest person in North Dakota was not made in either of these industries. His name is Gary Tharaldson and he is North Dakota’s first billionaire.

The richest person in North Dakota

The Ballad of Gary Tharaldson

It was only 5 days ago that Gary Tharaldson was named the first billionaire in North Dakota. But his path to vast wealth was not always a clear one. He was born in 1945 in a ridiculously small and remote town called Dazey. Growing into adulthood, he found work as a high school GYM teacher. The life of a small town high school teacher was simply not enough to satisfy Gary Tharaldson, as would be the case for any man of ambition. After just a couple of years he quit and got into the insurance business. Clearly he was good at selling insurance as he was soon able to invest some of his earnings in outside projects. Thus began his involvement in real estate.

Over time he came to own more and more properties – and in 1982 he purchased a small motel. This seemingly insignificant acquisition was to be the start of something incredible. He now began building his own motels. They were small and cheap, funded by local banks, and rented out at a small fee in order to beat out competition. It was like the Walmart business model – building cheap establishments in rural areas that larger corporations neglected. Through this, his company slowly expanded, building and buying more and more hotels and motels across the state.

Mass Produced Hotels

To build more hotels at less of a cost, Tharaldson even founded his own construction company, to actually produce the buildings. You could say a big part of his strategic genius was simply finding ways to reduce costs. But that would make sense. You don’t get to be the richest person in North Dakota by throwing away money. In time the company could boast more than 300 hotels and motels. Then in 2006 he sold 130 of such properties and used the funds to diversify company interest. Diversification is another part of Gary Tharaldson’s strategic genius. Knowing that multiple streams of income would help protect them from any market specific downturns, he opened an ethanol production facility, also in North Dakota.

Today Gary Tharaldson has an estimated net worth of one billion dollars – having doubled since the late 90s. This easily makes him the richest person in North Dakota and one of the richest living Americans. He continues to expand his business, diversifying both personal and company assets to ever greater extents. In fact, the collective worth of all the projects he currently has underway is another half a billion dollars – a number that could easily soon increase. Who knows where the story of Gary Tharaldson will end. But as a wise, experienced, and innovative business leader who loves what he does, I can’t see him slowing down any time soon.