About Gary Tharaldson
A Man of Passion
“We kept our business real simple. We had four criteria: great location, great people and management, great product, and a great franchisee. Whatever you can conceive and believe — you can achieve. This is only done with retaining great employees,” remarked Gary Tharaldson to University of Mary business students in 2005, after receiving one of University of Mary’s highest honors, the Year of the Entrepreneur Award, from President Sister Thomas Welder, Governor John Hoeven, and former Governor Ed Schafer. Gary has been listed as the wealthiest person in North Dakota since the late 1990s and made the Forbes 400 list of America's richest in 1997 and 1998.
Gary has lived by those words throughout his life, becoming the nation’s most successful individual hotel builder and operator, and becoming a billionaire while remaining true to his North Dakota values and roots. These are the words business students at the University of Mary take to heart every day at the Gary Tharaldson School of Business.
Whatever you can conceive and believe — you can achieve. This is only done with retaining great employees.
Today, students in the Gary Tharaldson School of Business continue to welcome the school’s namesake to campus for lectures where Gary enjoys engaging and interacting with faculty and students — whose career dreams span all spectrums of business and management. Students learn first-hand from Gary and now also from Open Secrets of Success: The Gary Tharaldson Story.
Open Secrets of Success: The Gary Tharaldson Story
Open Secrets of Success: The Gary Tharaldson Story by Patrick McCloskey is a great resource for every entrepreneur, business student, and teacher.
His work in the hospitality industry didn’t go unnoticed by his peers; in fact, they describe Gary as “a man of great character.” He has earned many awards in business and softball, met U.S. military generals, and was featured in a cover story in Forbes Magazine. Perhaps the true indicator that the Gary Tharaldson Express was on the right track and moving full speed ahead was when he drew the attention of Bill Marriott, the owner of Marriott Hotels. Gary was the first franchisee to build Marriott’s Fairfield Inns that would become the industry standard for his innovative ideas, concepts, and efficiencies, – something that helped expand the brand of the hospitality giant.
There are not many people with the passion and the ability to do things. I don’t want to say I’m different: I know I’m different. It’s all about passion.
Bruce White, founder, chairman, and CEO of White Lodging, called Gary a “genius.” Gary is too humble to agree to this label, but as shown in Open Secrets of Success, he has certainly exhibited genius in the hospitality industry. In the book, Gary relates his most important secret: “There are not many people with the passion and the ability to do things. I don’t want to say I’m different: I know I’m different. It’s all about passion.”
As retired Tharaldson executive Doug Dobmeier said, “Gary was a risk-taker, but a very calculated risk-taker who always had faith that he was going to get things done right."