In late November of 1973, a young engineer named Roger began his first day at HEI in a career that would go on to span more than 40 years.
Clipping from HEI's 1970s brochure.
Like most of HEI's engineers at the time (and many still today), Roger came as a graduate of NDSU. Roger retained a strong tie to NDSU at the time, and he quickly incorporated a new form of technology to HEI's engineering: computers. Roger had developed a computer program that helped with pipe sizing for rural water systems. While this sounds like par for the course with today's technology, Roger's program was cutting edge at the time. His work helped give HEI an edge as the company pursued rural water projects throughout the state, and Roger is a key part of the reason HEI became known as an industry leader.
(L to R) Jeff LeDoux, Rick St. Germain, Lawrence Woodbury, Mark Deutschman, and Roger Hagen.
(L to R): Lawrence Woodbury, Bob Muscha, and Roger Hagen.
But while Roger was a great engineer, those who worked around him are far more eager to describe the quality of his character. And this character was on full display during his years of leadership at HEI.
Apart from the original three owners (George, Bob, and Hank), Roger was the first person at HEI to become a part-owner of the company. Working at a company that already had a reputation of providing for its employees, Roger still managed to gain his own reputation as a person who advocated for employees at every level. He used his years of service on the Board of Directors to help ensure that the company never strayed from its original philosophy of taking care of all employees, and he worked to expand the ways HEI did that as the company and its resources grew from its small, independent roots.
Employee group photo in 1989.
Employee group photo in 2006.
It's easy to say that Roger embodied the culture and spirit of HEI; but the truth is that HEI embodies the ideals set forth by Roger. He had this lasting effect through his personal connections and contributions to those who worked alongside and under him. Those personal stories can't be documented here—not faithfully, anyway. But they will have a lasting effect regardless.
And those stories were clearly what Roger lived for. While Roger often managed to make 10:00 break even after retirement, he spent far more of his time traveling with and visiting family—kids and grandkids alike.
Roger will always be remembered on a personal level—by his family, by his friends, and by his coworkers—thanks to his exceptional character.
Roger, 67, passed away on August 16, 2017. Click here for funeral details.