Dennis Gumke was born in North Dakota. He graduated high school in 1981 and during that time period, according to Gumke, the biggest export in North Dakota was people; especially young workers.
By Chris Slone
“The rest of the world wanted our work ethic I believe,” Gumke said.
After high school, Gumke decided he wanted to travel and the best way for him to accomplish that feat was to join the military.
“I went in the army and for two years, I tried to figure out what I wanted to be,” Gumke said.
After his military service, Gumke returned home and attended a trade school. He still wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life, but he felt he needed a better education to get there. Through his time in school, Gumke learned he had a love for airlines, hotels and the travel industry.
Once Gumke graduated, he started working for Frontier Airlines based in Fargo. Then, he went to St. Louis and worked for Continental Airlines for a number of years.
After his time at Continental, Gumke began working for a travel agency while also working at a hotel. He worked the front desk and as a bellman.
“I enjoyed that. I got to meet new people. I got to learn new things every day,” Gumke said.
Gumke then began working for the Carlson Company in St. Louis and after a while, was transferred to Minneapolis.
During his time, Gumke met a Scottish woman and ended up moving to Scotland.
“I had a good position with Carlson Company,” Gumke said. “When I went to Scotland, I was basically starting over. I knew I wanted to be in hotels and I started working in a hotel as an assistant manager. From there, that was going to be my career. I knew that’s what I wanted to be.”
After working as an assistant manager for a while, Gumke was offered his first managerial position. However, it didn’t go according to plan.
“My first job as a manager, I failed and I failed hard,” Gumke said. “It was difficult to take because I was in a country I knew nothing about and the people I knew nothing about. And then I failed, so what do you do about that? I think that’s when you learn if this is what you’re really passionate about. You pick up the pieces and you don’t give up. And that’s what I did, I never gave up.”
After eventually finding success overseas, Gumke was presented with an opportunity to move to England and take over a new project. However, Gumke had other ideas.
“I decided if I had to go to England that I would like to go back to the United States,” Gumke said. “I’d like to try to come back home to North Dakota. And they agreed. It took six months to organize, and I came over and completely started from scratch again. I didn’t bring anything back over, I started it from ground zero.”
Gumke found success once he returned to North Dakota. In Minot, he opened the Nobel Inn, which was voted the No. 1 hotel in North Dakota by TripAdvisor for three consecutive years. He also received the Traveler’s Choice Award from TripAdvisor for having a top 10 hotel in all of the country out of about 14,000 hotels.
“I knew that my choice to come back was good because everything I learned, I gave back,” Gumke said. “I’ve been back six years. I’ve had to be unique. I’ve had to be different. I’ve always had to spot opportunity to make myself standout from the Marriott’s, the Hiltons, and I’ve been able to do that because I believe in me and I believe that does transfer to your staff as well. If they believe in what you’re doing and you have as much belief in what you’re doing, it will reflect and it reflects to the customers.”