March 2013
A New Tradition By Bill Schaefer

Spudman magazine is honored to present Eric Halverson with its 2013 Emerging Leader Award. Halverson is the inaugural recipient of what promises to be an annual tradition within the potato industry.

He and his wife Yvette are the parents of three daughters, Lucy, 7, Stella, 5 and Ruby, 2.

Halverson, 35, the son of Gregg and Linda Halverson, is the executive vice president for Black Gold Farms based in Grand Forks, N.D., with potato production operations in 11 states.

Halverson, with his brother John and sister Leah Brakke, represent the fourth-generation of North Dakota potato growers. John runs the Black Gold farms in Arkansas and oversees the fresh market sector. Leah is in charge of marketing and the company’s web site and social media operations.

Halverson said there are two key business practices he learned from his father.

If you’re going to do it, do it right, is one thing I learned from my dad,” Halverson said. “In other words, don’t go half throttle into anything. Another big one is to be open and transparent. We try real hard to be transparent.”
Halverson was nominated by the board of directors of the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association (NPPGA)_.

Chuck Gunnerson, NPPGA president, said that he and Ted Kreis, NPPGA marketing and communications director, put together Halverson’s nomination two days before the deadline.

“He’s a true leader, there’s no question about it,” Gunnerson said of Halverson.

Gunnerson attributes Eric Halverson’s leadership qualities to Eric’s parents.

“Part of it is the Halverson family,” Gunnerson said. “They’re always willing to give back to the industry, to the community and the universities, whether it’s North Dakota State University or a university at one of the other states where they have operations.”

There were a number of letters of endorsement with Halverson’s nomination form. One wrote of Eric as “always ready for a new challenge and I do not believe that ‘no’ is in his vocabulary when it comes to helping and innovating.”

Another wrote that, “the leadership, ethics and values shown by Eric make me very proud of the quality of young leaders in our industry.”

“Eric’s passion for the potato industry is contagious. His energy and work ethic will help carry Black Gold Farms on to further success,” wrote the author of another endorsement letter.

There were a number of ably qualified nominees in the first year of the Emerging Leader Award but Eric’s candidacy truly stood out. The panel of judges was unanimous in its selection.

The award has been created to recognize leaders of the potato industry under the age of 35 in all sectors of the industry, from growing to shipping to process to engineering and research. Look for 2014 Emerging Leader Award nomination forms this fall.

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P.O. Box 128
Sparta, MI 49345
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