Minot in the early years of the 20th century, with its horse-drawn buggies, dirt roads and candle-lit windows resembled little of what we see today with hybrid vehicles traveling down paved four-lane highways illuminated at night by the harnessed power of the gusty Great Plains wind from turbines that dot the landscape.
While a vast majority have not been lucky enough to experience both, one has: the law firm of Pringle and Herigstad, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.
The child of Norwegian immigrants, Omon B. "O.B." Herigstad founded the practice in 1909 in a small, downtown office space. He gained prominence serving three terms as the Ward County state's attorney beginning in 1916 and was also city attorney for many years. After the death of his two business partners, the business became a family affair in the 1940s and 1950s when Herigstad's son, Roger, and his son-in-law Kenneth Pringle joined the firm.
Throughout the next half-century the law firm would grow to nearly a dozen lawyers with the addition of influential state players such as Herbert Meschke, who served in the state Senate and House of Representatives and was appointed Justice of the North Dakota Supreme Court, Thomas Wentz, who co-founded Investors Real Estate Trust and Mitchell Mahoney, who was once the Ward County assistant state's attorney.
Today, 11 attorneys make up Pringle and Herigstad P.C., located at 2525 Elk Drive. As a general practice firm, they handle cases involving estate and real estate issues, criminal law, wrongful death and personal injury, business litigation and commercial law as well as natural resources rights among others.
"When I think of the last 100 years, I think family. Once an attorney joins, they are considered a member of the family and it is our hope that that relationship continues even after they leave or retire," said Jim Nostdahl, a partner and personal injury specialist at the firm.
Although no family members of Herigstad or Pringle now practice at the firm, Nostdahl said they kept the name in honor of its long history and tradition of family.
It's that value of family ties which has kept Nostdahl with the firm for 26 years.
"The biggest thing for me is that you are appreciated as an individual and not a number. I could probably make more money at a bigger firm in a larger city, but the quality of life would decrease,'' Nostdahl said. "Living life is important and everyone here understands that. We all expect quality of law and devotion to our clients, but it's also about having the time to raise a family."
In his 26 years with the firm, Nostdahl said he has witnessed Minot's technological transformation from having one of the first telecopiers in the area to representing cooperatives who are on the cutting edge with their value-added ag products and renewable energy research.
"It's such an interesting and blossoming area that I'm wondering how technology will change and transition in the next 10 years,'' he said.
The sour economy has not had a negative impact on the firm, Nostdahl said, because of the wide variety of services they offer. Right now, the firm is seeing a lot of mineral disputes due to the increased activity and subsequently estate planning for those who want to pass along those rights to the next generation, he said, along with an increase in accident cases due to the ramped up activity.
The firm plans to hold an open house sometime this summer to celebrate the milestone with clients and area business professionals.
"To still be here after 100 years and survive some events and times that other businesses haven't is great, and I hope it (the firm) will be here for the next 200 years," Nostdahl said.