All About Charissa Rubey
By: Gary Manske – Executive Director, Sales & Marketing
Charissa Rubey is a business owner, artist, graphic designer, photographer, wife, mother, hunter, gardener, beekeeper, and serial hobbyist who makes sure all the soup cans are always facing labels out in the kitchen cabinet. Originally from southern California, Charissa moved to North Dakota at the age of 20 with her husband Dave to take over the family farm. In 2002 they started Dakota Micro, Inc., a business that manufactures the AgCam and EnduraCam camera lines. Charissa’s most recent endeavor of acrylic painting allows her passion for the rural countryside to shine through.
Let’s look back at where it all started: In the spring of 1991, at the age of 17, Charissa was preparing to graduate from Quartz Hill High School, a small city just outside of Lancaster, CA. Like most high school seniors, she struggled with what to do with her future. College was expected, but the call to be a wife and a mother was strong with this one. She even joked with her friends when they asked what she was going to be after high school with the response of “barefoot and pregnant.” Most thought she was joking, but for those who knew her well, the inevitable question that followed was “why you’re so smart…”. Which always prompted her to think, “why can’t I be smart and a stay at home mom who decided not to go to college?”
Charissa is also incredibly patriotic and a lover of structure, so the option of military service was seriously considered as well, especially in light of the fact that both her Mother (US Air Force), Father (US Army) and Grandfather (US Army) had served. But fate stepped in, and one month before graduation, she was introduced to her future husband, Dave, by a mutual friend. Being from a white-collar Jewish household, Charissa’s family wasn’t sure what to do about the Catholic mechanic she was dating. Her father’s hope for her was to become a pharmacist, and take over the family business and this Midwest farm boy was looking to “hook his daughter up to a plow for the rest of her life” (yeah, that’s a real quote). Charissa laughed as she shared her 93-yearold Grandmother’s reaction upon meeting Dave; “Oye, I’m going to die, I’m going to die… a Catholic boy? WHYYYYY, Oyyyyy”. In the end, the family’s thoughts on the matter did little to dissuade the relationship, and when, in the fall of 1992 Dave’s father let him know he was going to sell the farm, it seemed their future was going to be taking a turn, toward the Midwest.
Dave was a little worried that his California girl wouldn’t be able to withstand the harsh North Dakota winters, so a trip was scheduled during the most horrific parts of winter to travel back to the farm to see how Charissa fared in sub-zero temperatures. Mother nature, to make sure that this was a real deal test and provided challenging weather for the entire drive, starting with snow in Las Vegas that continued all the way to the farm in North Dakota. Charissa survived the trip and loved the family farm
in North Dakota, and it was on that Christmas that Dave proposed. They married in the fall of ‘93 and moved to the farm in the spring of 1994. It was only after her move to North Dakota that she found out that her Grandfather had actually been born in the state and that her family was part of the original Jewish settlement in North Dakota dating back to the 1800s.
During their farming years, Charissa discovered her love of mastering new things and learned to quilt, can, garden, and cook. Her fear of the riding lawnmower quickly diminished, and by the second year, she was driving every piece of equipment on the farm; except the combine because according to Dave’s father, women didn’t drive the combine (she quickly came to realize this was because driving and unloading truck AND making sure meals were made and brought out was a MUCH harder task, and
Vernon liked sitting in his nice comfy combine).
In the 5th year of farming, just before her son Alex’s first birthday, they buried Dave’s father, Vernon. That same month, Dave developed a herniated disk in his neck, which required a cervical fusion, which required him to wear a neck brace that made it impossible for him to turn his head and drive the combine for bean harvest. Charissa was happy to pitch in and ecstatic to have a chance to run the combine. This lasted for all of 47 seconds as she proceeded to pick up a rock on the first pass across the
field and wreck the entire front end of the combine. While the machinery was getting repaired, Dave began looking for a way that he could complete harvest while in a full neck brace. Charissa always jokes that Dave is the smartest socially acceptable person she has ever met and the camera system he created that allowed him to finish the harvest was a perfect example of this.
Utilizing Dave’s original idea, by the following spring, the AgCam was born, a rugged camera system that farmers and ranchers could use to see in places that were difficult or impossible from the driver’s seat. In 2002 Dakota Micro, Inc. was incorporated, and Dave and Charissa officially became entrepreneurs. Charissa often jokes that “farming is like a drug habit, it’s really expensive, and you can’t quit, and farmers have to do something to support their nasty, expensive habit.” Dakota Micro was the
resulting business. Like any adventure, it had its ups and downs. Maxed out credit cards ruled the day for several years and Charissa just about killed Dave on the day he destroyed $3,000 worth of camera equipment in an attempt to make it more durable (it involved an oven and a very pissed off wife).
By 2006 Dakota Micro, Inc. was able to pay Dave & Charissa a living wage, and a decision had to be made. Farming or the business, because there simply wasn’t time to do both. After many thoughtful late-night conversations with Dave’s mom Renata, the Rubey’s, with their matriarchs blessing, decided it was time to rent out the farmland and dive headfirst into their manufacturing business.
Within Dakota Micro, Charissa originally handled the Marketing, Inside Sales, Accounting & Shipping. Dave managed development, manufacturing, and went out on the road and visited prospective dealers across the country. As the years passed, the company grew until, to their genuine surprise, it became a real, honest to goodness business, with employees and a payroll and company vehicles. Whoda thunk? Currently, Charissa holds the title within Dakota Micro, Inc. of Chief Executive Officer and her responsibilities include business development and overarching management of the Sales &Marketing of Dakota Micro.
In July of 2019, Dakota Micro, Inc. had the honor of being invited to the White House to represent US Manufacturing for the State of North Dakota. When asked about the experience, Charissa shared that “…it was so amazing! To be able to set up our products IN the White House, who gets to do that! We got to meet so many amazing people, VP Mike Pence and Dr. Ben Carson, just to name a few.”
Aside from the manufacturing business, Charissa has a habit of being a serial hobbyist. What started during the early years of farming as “learning how to be a farm wife” evolved into the desire to excel at things that interested her, not wanting to wait until the golden years and wishing she had done “this” or “that.” The most rewarding of these hobbies have been acrylic painting on canvas. In 2017 Charissa decided to try her hand at painting and was surprised to discover she had a hidden talent. She painted 10 paintings the first week alone, convinced it was a fluke that the painting turned out as well as they had. Over the past few years, she has had sold many paintings and been commissioned for custom pieces.
Charissa and Dave have two children whom they are incredibly proud of. Alexander is currently serving in the US Army in the 25th ID, and their daughter Christina has joined the ND Army National Guard. She will begin basic training in the winter of 2019-20 with plans on attending Nursing School afterword. When elaborating on her kids, Charissa also shared “plans change, you never know what their, or our future will bring, and that’s the adventure.”