#163. Giving Back – In a Big Way!

Posted on | The Agurban
Giving Back – In a Big Way!

This is one of the best “feel good” stories we have come across in a while. 

Generations of Norman Asbjornson’s family had lived in Winifred, MT, and continue to make it their home today. Norman grew up on Winifred and started his first business at the age of 10, hauling garbage for the majority of the residents. Like many high school seniors, he was ready to leave his small town behind after graduation. After a stent in the Army, he graduated from Montana State University (MSU) and worked for decades for a heating and air-conditioning manufacturer. Then he founded his own company, AAON, in 1988. The company was listed by Forbes magazine as one of the fastest growing companies in America, grossing about $150 million in annual sales. It also made Forbes magazine’s 2007 list of best small companies.

But Norman realized that even with all his successes, he needed more. Lucky for Winifred!Norman realized that Winifred molded his character, and he wanted to preserve that lifestyle for others. He visited the community numerous times, and over the past few years, thanks to Norman, this town of 150 people has a new city hall, library, museum and community center. In addition, students receive scholarships to attend MSU.

In 2003, Norman created a $1 million scholarship for graduates of Montana schools with 100 or fewer students. “I’m getting a chance to influence the lives of generations of children,” he commented.

“I’m running a little social experiment with my old town,” the 71-year-old said. “I’m trying to see what it’ll take to turn around some of these failing old towns.”Norman’s effort has inspired others in town to fix up their properties.

“He has just made it his personal goal to give back to his hometown,” Twila Lunde, city clerk, said. “Thank heavens it’s Winifred.”

Source: Great Falls Tribune