Alumni Spotlight: Monica Musich
UND alumna Monica Musich cultivates community via a chain of local convenience stores and carwashes.
Frank Schmidt acquired VALDAK Corporation in 1964. Along with that purchase came Valley Dairy convenience stores in Grand Forks, North Dakota and East Grand Forks, Minnesota. Though initially intended to be a family business, Schmidt’s daughter, Monica Musich, had other plans.
After graduating from the University of North Dakota College of Business & Public Administration with a double major in management and marketing in 1982, Musich and a group of friends decided to move to Denver.
While in Denver, Musich worked as a processor for a mortgage company. After being there for a few years, she relocated to Dallas, and then from Dallas to Phoenix.
Five years and three cities later, Musich started to miss home.
“I had a marketing and management degree and wasn’t really using it much with what I was doing,” said Musich. “So I called my dad and said, ‘Hey can I come back and work for you at Valley Dairy?’”
Schmidt welcomed her home with open arms.
For a little more than three years, Musich and her father worked side by side. That was until 1991 when sadly, he passed away.
“For me it was a blessing to come back because my dad passed away in ’91 and if I hadn’t come back, I wouldn’t have had those years with him,” said Musich. “So I count my blessings that it was meant to be that I came back.”
In 2000, Musich became President of Valley Dairy. While serving as President, she said she had about 200 employees and oversaw nine convenience stores and four carwashes with the ‘assistance of her wonderful staff and employees.’ She also took on interns from the University of North Dakota, so students could have the opportunity to, ‘get some experience,’ something Musich feels is critical for young people interested in management or running their own business.
Though working for the family business wasn’t where Musich envisioned her career in the beginning, she said she’s glad it’s where she ended up.
“I really loved the flexibility in the fact that we were small enough that if you wanted to change something, it could be changed. If we saw a good idea, any one of my management staff would say, hey, lets try this, and we were able to try things,” said Musich.
In addition, Valley Dairy gave Musich the opportunity to give back to her hometown.
“It was super important to me to be able to give back to the community so we tried to do as much as we could to give back. I think we gave to almost every benefit that came and asked us, we always gave a donation,” she said.
For Musich, giving back is important, whether that’s to a local charity, school, or the University of North Dakota.
“It may be cold outside, but people have super warm hearts here,” said Musich with a smile.
On Dec. 1, 2016, after 28 years of working at Valley Dairy, Musich made the decision to sell the family business, but not just to anyone.
“My major thing when I sold it was that I wanted to make sure that the people were as local as possible so that they love the community as much as I love the community,” said Musich. “I was afraid if a big chain came in, they might change everything, they might not care, they might not be as involved with UND or Altru, or other parts of the community. That was my main thing, when I was looking for someone to purchase, I wanted to make sure it was a good thing for our community.”
Petro Serve USA, owned by the Farmers Union Oil Company of Moorhead, based in West Fargo, fit the bill. For the next five years, Monica will serve as a consultant for the new owners. Though she’s no longer as involved in the workforce as she once was, Musich says she’s extremely grateful for her years at Valley Dairy, and the education she received at the UND College of Business & Public Administration.
“I just think overall, UND gave me a great, round basis and education to go out into the world with,” said Musich. “You learn a lot and things in a book don’t always equate to what’s going to happen when people are in front of you, but it’s definitely a good starting place.”