Dave Piepkorn grew up in the Ben Franklin neighborhood in North Fargo, dreaming of one day putting on a Bison helmet while emulating the smooth running style of former Bison running back Paul Hatchett. Piepkorn was in such a hurry to wear the Bison uniform, he even went as Hatchett for Halloween when he was a kid.
Fate would play a role when Piepkorn kept growing and growing, and he quickly realized he would never carry the ball for the Bison; instead, he would become one of the best offensive lineman in NDSU history, blocking for Mark Nellermoe, Jeff Bentrim and Chad Stark.
The senior captain that led the charge for the violent veer option attack would be drafted by the Cleveland Browns after the Bison won the division II national championship in 1983. “Our offensive line, I would’ve put them up against anybody, anywhere,” said Piepkorn in his TruGreen office in Downtown Fargo.
Piepkorn’s time in the NFL was a blip on the radar to what he has become today. He was cut by Sam Rutigliano’s Browns near the end of training camp in 1984 and tried out for various teams including the USFL’s Philadelphia Stars in 1985.
“I got a shot and it was fun. Fifth round, $65,000 man, I thought I was the richest guy in Fargo, and then I had to write a check to the IRS,” chuckles Piepkorn, reliving the most uncertain time in his life. “I was like, this is ridiculous. Where’s this money going? Politics? Hey man, that’s where I’m going.”
Dealing with his missed attempt as a professional with sarcasm about how he got into politics sums up the fun-loving personality Piepkorn carries with him in his office at TruGreen and on the Fargo City Commission. The real reason Piepkorn found his way into Fargo politics was the overwhelming sense of responsibility he felt he needed to take on for Fargo’s common family.[/text_output]
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[text_output]“I ask a lot of questions and I like to think that I’m vigilant,” Piepkorn says, explaining his role on the City Commission. He was first elected in 2008 and served until 2012. He was re-elected in 2014. “What I picture is a family in Fargo; a mom and dad and kids, where they’re both working and they don’t have time to keep track of all the stuff that the government is in. They’re counting on me to ask questions and to spend the tax money that’s taken from them wisely.”
But politics isn’t Piepkorn’s number one priority. He became the owner of his father’s lawn care business that’s been in the family since 1960.
“Being a small business owner is my American Dream,” Piepkorn said inside the humble walls of an old Greyhound bus terminal, where his downtown TruGreen office sits. The business has 25 seasonal employees and he carries the responsibility of getting his men out to various businesses to fertilize, kill weeds and everything else that goes into having a healthy, green lawn. His TruGreen franchise covers the majority of the Red River Valley, extending into Minnesota. He also has another office in Grand Forks.
Piepkorn’s family have been lifetime members of NDSU Team Makers, along with his wife of 26 years, Vickie.
Piepkorn found another way to get involved with the NDSU community when he served seven years as a member of the Fargo Dome Authority and was its president in 2000. “The way I looked at it was, I’m representing all the guys at the FargoDome because that’s the home of the Bison.”
Bringing the “Bison flavor” to the Dome was imperative for Piepkorn, who you can find tailgating during most NDSU home games. He only misses a game when his son Alex is playing for Concordia. Alex is a 6’4’’ offensive lineman and works for the family business in the summer. Piepkorn’s youngest, Will, is going to be a senior at Fargo North High School. Special needs has Will constricted to a wheelchair, but he remains active by playing soccer with HOPE, Inc.
Amazed after every turnout during tailgating at Bison home games has Commissioner Piepkorn excited for the city he sees continuing its boom and is anxious to see if Bison football can keep the championship tradition at a higher level.
“The town, the university, we’re division I. But the last step is to go toe-to-toe with the big boys,” says Piepkorn. “I hope I’m alive to see the day.”[/text_output]