Blossoming Pride of Dakota | The Dakotan

FARGO — Less than a year after opening his Maple River winery in 2001, owner Greg Kempel joined Pride of Dakota to help market his wines. Seeing all the support and success he got from POD, Kemple quickly became an advocate for the POD label. So much so that when the opportunity arose, he opened a kiosk in the West Acres mall in Fargo selling POD products during the Christmas season. After six successful seasons with a kiosk, mall management approached Kempel to open a permanent store.

The result is the Minn Dak Market, which also sells products from Minnesota, South Dakota. But the centerpiece of the new 4,200 square foot store is products bearing the POD label.

The 4,200 square foot store in West Acres focuses on a variety of products bearing the Pride of Dakota label. (Photo: Charlene Nelson/The Dakotan)

Pride of Dakota began with a group of about 20 private businessmen who joined with the North Dakota Department of Agriculture to develop an identifiable state brand that would promote products made in Dakota North. In 1987, the state legislature appropriated $5,000 to spur the development of the Pride of Dakota label.

Cloverdale Foods is a well-known brand in North Dakota and has worked with POD since the very beginning. New companies arrive every year and there are now around 500 companies producing goods and services under the POD label. POD receives no state funds and is funded solely by membership dues and event registration fees.

Perhaps the most well-known of POD’s success stories is Dot’s Pretzels, which was recently purchased by Hershey’s and will soon be distributed nationwide. Another POD product now selling nationwide is Earthkind, which produces Fresh Cab Rodent Repellent, a non-toxic mouse repellent.

These success stories are exactly what North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring hopes for.

“Our goal is to provide local business owners with the business development resources and marketing opportunities they need to succeed,” says Goehring.

In addition to helping with marketing and networking, POD also provides advice and support programs and market research. They offer training and resources on business and marketing topics, one-on-one consultations with experts, and networking opportunities with other entrepreneurs.

Dot’s Pretzels isn’t the only success story. There are plenty of other businesses that are well on their way to skyrocketing growth. Kempel says the three to watch are Mama Cee’s Peanut Butter Chips, Big Deck BBQ Sauce and Rubs, and Zoob’s Nuts.

“We’re all familiar with Widman’s Chippers chocolate covered potato chips,” says Kempel. “But Mama Cee’s takes it to a whole new level by adding peanut butter to the chips.”

Big Deck offers a wide range of barbecue sauces and meat sauces. They can be found in local grocery stores throughout the state.

Zoob’s makes a variety of flavored nuts that are all the rage in the region. Owner Carl Springer has steadily expanded his distribution since he launched his business in 2018. He is currently working on contacts that will lead to national distribution.

Zoob’s Nuts is a new product that can be found in many stores across the state. (Photo: Charlene Nelson/The Dakotan)

Entrepreneurs in North Dakota face several challenges to succeed. The first is to offer a product that stands out.

“There are dozens of artisan soap makers,” Kempel explains, “but there is very little that sets them apart from the rest of the soap makers. It must be a product that belongs to a whole new class.

Packaging can be the key to a product’s success. Kempel explains, “You can have the best product, but if it doesn’t catch your eye, it won’t sell. There are no courses to teach you how to have a winning product. But those who are willing to invest time and take risks will succeed. »

This is why POD broadcasts are so useful. There are several POD events held in the state throughout the year, but the Holiday Showcase is the biggest event. Producers talk face to face with consumers and get immediate feedback. The Holiday Showcase will take place in Grand Forks on November 4, in Fargo on November 18 and in Bismarck on December 2.

Besides the Minn Dak store in Fargo, there are two other stores that focus on POD products. The Dakota Store in Jamestown opened in 2017 and offers over 60 products bearing the POD label. Pat’s Embroidery in Bismarck also offers several POD products. Many of POD’s snacks and food products can be found at area grocery and convenience stores.

For consumers in North Dakota, POD shopping is a great way to show support for North Dakota entrepreneurs.

Goehring says, “There is pride in buying a product made in North Dakota. The program is also great for budding entrepreneurs to see how you can make your dreams come true, and Pride of Dakota can help you along the way.

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Elisha A. Tilghman