Terry Hanson

In the May issue of Connections, Terry Hanson shared memories while he was in leadership roles for Osco and Sav-on. Earlier this year, he received the Achievement Award from North Dakota State University, which recognizes individuals who have achieved distinction in their professional fields. Below is the write-up from NDSU’s website, the text of which was read at the presentation of this recognition.


Terry Hanson was destined to be a leader. The oldest of three children, he was a standout athlete at Moorhead High School. He was a tri-captain and quarterback of Moorhead’s 1963 undefeated football team and also played baseball. The Bison offered Terry a football and baseball scholarship. Although he did not play baseball because it conflicted with spring football, he went on to become a record-setting quarterback for NDSU. As starting quarterback from 1965-67, Terry led the Bison to their first national football championship in 1965 and an impressive 3 season record of 28-3. The week before the first game of the 1967 season, he experienced a serious knee injury-- an injury that threatened his senior season. Under the care of NDSU trainer, Denis “Izzy” Isrow, Terry was able to fulfill his collegiate career as tri-captain and guided his team to an undefeated regular season. That year, the Bison played in the Pecan Bowl and finished ranked #2 in the nation.


While on campus, Terry was also active in Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity and Blue Key. Terry earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 1968 and a master’s degree in school administration in 1970. While pursuing his master’s degree, he was a graduate coaching assistant, coaching the freshman backs and scouting for the varsity. Terry went to NDSU for teaching and coaching, but under the advice of Coach Ron Erhardt, he shifted his career path to the corporate world.


In 1969, he joined Osco Drug as a management trainee—climbing the corporate ladder for 20 years, moving up from District Manager to various Vice President positions and eventually President. He led more than 650 retail stores in 27 states, with more than 27,000 employees. Terry’s leadership helped Osco Drug becomes one of the top drug retailers in the world. In 1988, Osco Drug and Sav-on Drug merged to become American Drug Stores. Terry retired from the company in 1989. In 1990, he developed the idea for a new retail venture, ULTA. He co-founded the company which brought together salon services, cosmetics and fine fragrances all under one roof. Raising $11 million in venture capital, the first year they opened 5 stores and a distribution center in the Chicago area.

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