CAYUGA, N.D. — Dakota Micro, a rural North Dakota company that makes rugged back-up cameras for use with agricultural and construction equipment, is in line for some prime exposure on national television.

CEO Charissa Rubey will be interviewed live Tuesday, Nov. 12, in New York by Fox News Channel business anchor Maria Bartiromo on Mornings with Maria.

“I’m excited about it,” Rubey said Wednesday, Nov. 6. “I’m really excited that we are getting a focus on made in America manufacturing. It’s something that’s really close to our hearts. And we’ve always felt it was incredibly important. We’ve seen what’s been happening with bringing imports from overseas, and the kind of damage it does to American manufacturing.”

Rubey says she’s a fan of the Trump administration’s emphasis on being pro-business and pro-American manufacturing.

The business environment “is incredibly positive,” Rubey said.

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Rubey said she’s been told she could get five to 10 minutes of airtime.

“I better be good so I get the full 10 minutes, right?” Rubey said. “That’s a huge block of time on national TV.”

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Earlier this year, Charissa and her husband, Dave, were at the White House displaying their cameras at the Made in America Product Showcase on July 15. Shortly after, they appeared on the Fox & Friends morning show for a segment that also featured made in America products. That was a quick 30-second appearance, she said.

Dakota Micro expects to post about $7 million in sales this year, up about 20% from last year, Rubey said.

Most of the firm’s products are assembled in a 10,000-square-foot facility between Lidgerwood and Milnor. The closest town is Geneseo, six miles away. The offices are in the farmhouse where her husband, Dakota Micro’s co-founder and camera system innovator Dave Rubey, grew up, she said.

“We really like North Dakota. We love our North Dakota facility. Our factory is literally on the family farm,” Rubey said.

The company makes four types of cameras in the mid- to upper-price range, she said. Their flagship product is a tough, all-weather AgCam for use with agricultural machinery. Their EnduraCam is an even sturdier camera system for use on heavy construction machinery and for military applications.

Their newest product is the InnoPro, an internet protocol camera system designed for highly secure transmission of video as well as durability.

“There’s nothing on the market like it right now,” Rubey said. “It’s a complicated camera.”

The parts for their cameras are sourced as much as possible in the U.S., she said.

Dakota Micro’s early success also led to other firms trying to enter the market, but with cheaper, less durable equipment from overseas, Rubey said.

To counter that challenge, Rubey said Dakota Micro created the OverView camera line, which is made in China to their specifications.

The mid-priced line is an option for people who don’t need a highly secure, highly durable camera system.

“We didn’t want to lose all of that market,” Rubley said.

Dakota Micro co-founder and CEO Charissa Rubey talks with a Forum reporter in June 2016 in Cayuga, N.D. (Forum File Photo)
Dakota Micro co-founder and CEO Charissa Rubey talks with a Forum reporter in June 2016 in Cayuga, N.D. (Forum File Photo)

Rockin’ start

The company was incorporated in 2002, though work on the camera systems started a couple years earlier, Rubey said.

Dave Rubey had been in a neck brace and couldn’t drive his combine. That meant that Charissa, who had learned to drive a farm truck, needed to move up into the cab of the mammoth piece of farm equipment.

“I got to drive the combine and I totally ate a big rock and wrecked the header, and that’s when he (Dave) was like, ‘Hey, I need a camera,’” she said.

While the combine was being repaired, Dave cobbled together a system with an off-the-shelf camera and CCTV.

“After that season, he was like, ‘This would be really handy to have all the time.’” she said.

He then worked on upgrading the system. The couple eventually brought it to a local implement dealership to find out if the idea was salable.

It wasn’t easy to start. They lost money the first year because they were buying their parts at retail prices.

But the idea held promise. Because of low commodity prices, they were doing custom baling and combining, and running a video store in nearby Lidgerwood to make ends meet.

“I’ve always joked that farming is like a drug habit, it’s really expensive and you can’t quit. So, you’ve got to support your nasty little habit,” Rubey said.

The Rubeys also run Dakota Munitions, which makes small arms ammunition.

Charissa said the couple will not push for growth in that business, though they will still continue to sell ammunition to area law enforcement agencies.

“We’re too busy with Dakota Micro,” she said.