Ray E. Torgerson was the first generation of the Torgerson family entrepreneurs. After years of working in the men’s clothing business in Alexandria, MN, Ray moved to Kerkhoven, MN and opened his own clothing store in 1930. A few years later Ray moved the store to the nearby city of Willmar, MN. Ray was a hard working, honest man who prided himself on building relationships and helping people in need. He was a very kind and giving person whose attitude and work ethic passed on to future Torgerson generations. The Great War came and went in the 1940′s and the store survived and was successful. Due to illness, Ray turned over management of the store to his son, Tom B. Torgerson, in 1957.
Representing the second generation of Torgerson’s, Thomas B. Torgerson was literally raised in the store experiencing his father’s ways of conducting business. Tom served 8 ½ years as an artillery officer reserve during the Cold War and was a graduate of the University of Minnesota. He was working toward his Masters degree when Ray became ill. At that time, Tom moved back to Willmar and through aggressive expansion, he opened several more stores and added women’s retail boutiques. Tom expanded the business beyond retail clothing to include banking in 1964 when he and a group of partners received a national charter to start Citizens State Bank in Willmar. They later purchased the 1st State Bank of Lake Lillian. A comment at a bank directors’ meeting sparked Tom’s interest in the hospitality industry when it was mentioned that Willmar could use a first rate hotel. Tom shortly thereafter obtained the Holiday Inn franchise for Willmar and opened the hotel in 1972. Tom expanded his interest in hospitality to include several hotels and restaurants throughout the state of Minnesota in the cities of Willmar, Fairmont, and Austin. In 1990, Tom and his wife, C. Suzanne Torgerson (Sue), separated and Sue retained the hospitality entities.
In 1991, Torgerson Properties, Inc. (TPI) became a registered entity with the third generation of the Torgerson family. Thomas R. Torgerson and David B. Torgerson purchased three of the hospitality assets (Holiday Inns of Willmar and Austin, and Days Inn Willmar) from Sue and formed TPI. Additionally, at this time TPI contracted to manage the remaining hospitality interests that Sue retained.
Tom joined the family business in 1979 while home on holiday break from the University of Minnesota. At that time, his parents called a meeting with him and explained their desire to retire and sell the businesses at that time. Tom responded, though his involvement in the family business to that point had been exclusively with the clothing operation, that he felt he would enjoy the hospitality business over retail or banking. He further stated that he thought he would make a great Innkeeper. The following morning at the age of 21 and fresh out of his senior year of college, Tom was announced as the new General Manager of the Holiday Inn in Fairmont, MN. Having never worked in the hotel and restaurant business previously, the next twelve months provided for a steep learning curve in this business. Through hard work and associate support, the business grew very profitable and Tom became the Operations President of the family business in 1982.
David B. Torgerson joined the family business in 1984 and moved up through the ranks becoming the General Manger of the Holiday Inn in Willmar and then VP and Director of Sales and Marketing prior to the formation of TPI.
Tom purchased David’s interest in TPI in 1998 which was one of several steps moving TPI out of the family business realm. Today TPI is solely controlled by Tom who owns 100% of the voting interests and 50% of the ownership interests. Tom’s former wife, Tammy Torgerson, owns the other 50% non-voting ownership interest. TPI is a pure hospitality company that develops, owns and operates hotels and restaurants. To date, TPI only manages and develops properties in which it has a minimum of 50% ownership. TPI has a very small pool of individual investors that have repeatedly chosen to expand their investment in TPI assets.
Since its formation in 1991, Torgerson Properties, Inc. has expanded its portfolio on a relatively constant pace by aligning itself with highly respected franchises in the industry and cultivating a strong management team. TPI’s Consolidated Performance (including investors’ interests) is quickly approaching revenues of $100,000,000. The company is made up of approximately 2,000 associates. Smith Travel Research, a widely respected independent research organization that serves the hospitality industry, consistently reports that TPI businesses exceed their fair share of direct competitor’s revenues.