Entrepreneur, philanthropist Elmen dies at 88

July 29, 2018

Business owner Bob Elmen died July 26 at Touchmark at All Saints in Sioux Falls, days after his 88th birthday.

Elmen, the owner of Sioux Falls-based Elmen Entreprises, built the nation’s eighth-largest rental equipment company. He sold Elmen Rent All in 1999, after working with his brother Jim to grow their father’s single store to 50 locations in seven states. The company was structured as an ESOP, so many employees benefited when it was sold.

Elmen Enterprises continues to own rental stores called Appliance & Furniture RentAll. Its other holdings include Sioux Falls FOX-TV affiliate KTTW-TV.

A consummate entrepreneur, Elmen’s first business venture was as a child, when he contributed to his family’s income by growing tomatoes in a Sioux Falls community garden and delivering them in his wagon to a local grocery store and hospital kitchen.

“As the only supplier in town who replaced spoiled tomatoes on a daily basis, he quickly gained a reputation as a reliable and enterprising young businessman,” his obituary said.

Elmen detailed his path to success in business in a 2015 book, “Fifteen Fortunes: An Octogenarian Reflects on Life as an Entrepreneur.”

He wrote:

“In order to achieve long-term success, it is important not to stop after your first fortune or failure, but to use what you learn from your triumphs and mistakes and keep going!”

Elmen said at the time that he and his wife, Rita, planned to leave almost their entire estate to their foundation, building on a lifetime of community philanthropy.

His alma mater Augustana University’s Elmen Center is named for the family. Elmen also was a strong supporter of Good Earth State Park at Blood Run and helped fund the visitor center there.

Memorial arrangements are still being finalized. Donations in Elmen’s memory can be sent to Good Earth by clicking here, Augustana University or Our Savior’s Lutheran Church.

Entrepreneur, philanthropist Elmen dies at 88

Business owner Bob Elmen died July 26 at Touchmark at All Saints in Sioux Falls, days after his 88th birthday.

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