CROOKSTON, Minn. - Dave Currier 1974 loves a challenge. He is a successful businessman, a recent winner of The Motorcycle Cannonball race across the country, and he has traveled the world traversing many mountain landscapes for sheep. Currier acquired the foundations for being a businessman and challenge-seeker from his family and his time as a student at the University of Minnesota Crookston in the 1970s.
Currier has never shied away from an opportunity and has always tried to stay on the cutting edge of technology with his business. His main and steady focus was creating a successful company providing great service and products for his customers. “When I first started in the business, one of the things I got out of school is whatever you do in life if you do a great job, are customer-driven, provide a great product, unreal service, and a fair price, you are going to be successful,” Currier remarked.
Currier’s journey began in Fargo, N.D., where he started Dakota Fence as a sole proprietorship after graduating from Fargo North High School. He saw a lack of fence companies in the area and recognized an opportunity to fill the void. “I had a guy who wanted me to build a wood fence,” Currier stated. “I enjoyed carpentry classes and liked working with my hands. I built one wood fence and then a neighbor wanted one. There were about three months where I did a bunch of wood fences.”
It was right around this time when Currier began his time as a student at the University of Minnesota Technical College in Crookston. Currier was a good hockey player in high school and was approached by Dale Stinar and Chuck Habstritt to play hockey for the Trojans. Currier saw it as a great opportunity to play hockey and get an education. “I got up to Crookston and got involved in hockey,” Currier said. “It was an awesome experience. I don’t know of anyone else other than the hockey team in 1973 who played in the Lake Placid Arena. It had a real impact on me. I took sales and marketing classes and kind of liked the business side of it. The second year, the fence business was going so well and I was probably making more money than my banker at the time. The last half of the year I lived in Fargo and commuted maybe two days a week.”
Currier obtained a lot of discipline through balancing his job, hockey, and school at UMN Crookston. He was able to learn from great professors. One who continues to stand-out to him to this day is Ted Carr, then chair of the Business Division. “Ted was one of the instructors in many of my classes. He had a way about him. You never lost him in class. He could get you really focused and you left with a lot of knowledge. I always looked up to him. He would take the time after a class was done to say, ‘Hey, do you have a minute? I just want to visit with you.’ He would share some personal things about the Carr’s Tree Service with me, as I was trying to run this fence business. I would ask him questions. He was a very guiding person even though he had no relationship with me. He had no other connection with me other than I was a student in his class.”
Currier continues to pin a lot of the success of Dakota Fence on his father Dick Currier, who helped him get the company off the ground in the mid 1970s. His father left his job and joined him with Dakota Fence. “In 1975 I got my Dad to quit his job and we formed a partnership. That was the original Dakota Fence Corporation. He sold cars, owned the Harley Davidson dealership in Fargo, and the Indian Motorcycle dealership in the 40s and 50s in Fargo. He had always been in sales, whether it was automobiles, airplanes, motorcycles. I learned a lot of the sales side from my Dad.”
They eventually got Dave’s brother, Dan, to join the company as well. Dakota Fence has continued to grow. In addition to fences, they became one of the biggest highway special contractors in three states providing guardrails, signage, and safety equipment for highway departments. In addition, through a passion of his father, they began focusing on playground equipment. The company now has offices in Fargo, Bismarck, Minot, and Williston, N.D. Currier has recently taken a step back from the company and his children are in charge. All three of his children, Joe, Amy, and John decided to become involved with the company and they have maintained their father’s focus on growth and being innovators.
“Not a lot of businesses can go second and third generation and be successful,” Currier said. “There are always fights and power struggles and money struggles. I told my three kids you have a platform, financially you have no debt. You need to take it to a new level and that is what they are doing. I am pretty proud of them. My son Joe has been the president for four years and each of the last four years business has grown a tremendous amount.”
Currier still helps out when needed with Dakota Fence but his focus has turned to his hobbies and his challenge-seeking nature. When he was still working, he loved to hunt for mountain goats across the world, a hobby that grew from a bond he and his brother, Dan, had with their father when they were younger. “I have always been a hunter. The reason I like sheep is I like flying airplanes, I like mountain climbing, and I like a real challenge; sheep hunting is a challenge. It is not a hunting outing that is for everybody because it is hardcore. You bring a piece of plastic and sleep under a rock. I have literally traveled the world hunting sheep.”
His most recent focus has been restoring and racing antique motorcycles, a hobby that grew from his dad’s interest in motorcycles when Dave was growing up. “My early days, I was riding a motorcycle when I was seven years old. I couldn’t even touch the ground. We would go to the golf course. Dad would get it going and he would jump off and I would ride the bike around and when I wanted to stop, he would jump back on. Since then, I got really interested in antique motorcycles from the early 1910’s. I have a 1910, two 1911’s, and four 1915’s. I have a lot of really old bikes I do restoration work on and then started racing cross country endurance races on them. That is really what I love to do now. I am working on a 1930 Model C single and I am also building a 1915 board track race bike.”
Dakota Fence is entering their 50th year in business in 2022. It is through the knowledge and mentorship he obtained in Crookston where he learned many strategies to grow his business. It is a business, under the leadership of his children, that is sure to continue to be successful for many years to come. This year Currier received the Outstanding Alumni Award, the highest award bestowed to alumni by the UMC Alumni Association. As Dave humbly stated, “It is proof you don’t have to be an honor roll student to excel at a high level in everything you do.”