CHARACTER AND COLLABORATION
Jon had the good fortune to grow up in a third-generation sawmill manufacturing family where character, hard work and perseverance were more than just dinner conversation, but were the way of life. After high school, Jon knew there was only one place he wanted to be and accepted a scholarship to play quarterback for the Montana State Bobcat football team. Between his manufacturing upbringing and the teamwork required to be successful on the football field, it is easy to see why character and collaboration are prominent in his life.
After graduating from the MSU College of Business, Jon was hired as a cold-call sales representative for a technology start-up located near the MSU campus. The business quickly grew to over 2,000 customers that included many Fortune 500 companies. Jon worked his way up from making cold-calls to Vice President and knows what it takes to create 21st century technology jobs here in Montana.
Jon and his wife were educated in the elementary public-school system, much like their kids are today. An avid supporter of education, he went on to receive a Masters in Public Administration from Harvard University and a Masters in Business Administration from Dartmouth College. A frugal conservative, he slept on an air mattress in a spare den during his final year at Harvard.
During graduate school Jon focused on the intersection of business innovation and economic growth and was asked to be the Graduate Assistant for Ronald Reagan’s Director of Economic Policy, teaching a course analyzing holistic fiscal policy throughout America’s history, including tax reduction policies that stimulates financial growth. The need to create high-paying jobs in Montana is Jon’s #1 priority.
An avid lover of Montana Agriculture, Jon was then hired as the Deputy, Chief Economist for Deere & Company, the world’s leader in Agriculture Equipment. He was responsible for quantifying global economic, business, and political developments to assist Deere’s senior leadership in strategic planning and operational decision making. At the age of 33, he was then put in charge of the Global Digital Strategy for the Intelligent Vehicle Division and at the age or 35, he was tapped to manage the entire Corporate Strategy including the strategic deployment of resources and capital for the nearly $40 billion in company revenue, with operations throughout 120 countries. His paramount focus was on empowering the Senior Officers of the company to identify efficiency and productivity gains while meeting customer needs and empowering the workforce. “When you do the same with less,” he recently said, “you can focus on new innovations, new jobs, and new value creation.”
In 2016, Jon was elected to the Montana House of Representatives in a district where no Republican had won in recent history. “We get caught up in political ideologies,” he said, “but voters just want to know which person will help them make ends meet, which candidate will empower them to meet their goals.” As a businessman he was put on the Committee overseeing the budget and he proved to be a forward-thinker, fiscally conservative, and strategically minded. He passed a bill to increase the wages for Direct Care Workers that provide services for elderly and disabled, saving the State of Montana millions of dollars in the long-run. He worked with landowners and conservation groups to pass a bill to open 1.5M acres of public land for public use. He led the charge to preserve 2nd Amendment rights and promote fiscally conservative budget decisions.
Community minded, Jon has served as coach and mentor for the Bozeman Hawk Football team as well as a college professor teaching US Government and Political Science, including the formation and intent of the Founders when they wrote the Constitution. He is also the author of the book Theodore Roosevelt and the Making of American Leadership, an intimate look into how the 26th President overcame political partisanship and united America. He has been a member of Leadership Bozeman and was active in the Chamber of Commerce.
Jon is a sportsman and loves fly-fishing and hunting, though admits being only mediocre at both. His favorite spot is on the Madison River in the summer or deep in the Bob Marshall Wilderness in the winter. “We are what the rest of the country would call a redneck family,” he recently said, “we hunt, hike, fly-fish, ski, atv, snowmobile, shoot guns and camp as a family all year round.” Jon shoots a .30-06 and Meghan shoots a 7mm-08.
More About Jon
Most importantly, Jon cherishes his family. He and Meghan (a personal trainer and by far the best athlete in the family) were married fourteen years ago in Pray, Montana and they have two daughters and a son, aged 8, 6 and 3. Jon is an active volunteer for the Montana FFA and one of his girls is in Girl Scouts and plays basketball, the other is in 4H and plays soccer. The three-year-old son is a terror on a scooter.
Jon attributes his desire to be involved in Montana’s public sector because he wants toprovide better opportunities for his children and the future of Montana. “We need leaders who are inspired to lead government away from its current path of bureaucracy to a model fit for 21st century success,” Knokey said at a recent event.“We need new leadersfocused on government efficiency and productivity, leaders that will fight forindividual rights, promote justice and equality, and empower economic innovation. We need empathetic conservatism.”
Jon has experience in cutting edge technological advancements, billion-dollar business improvements and investments, agriculture economics, forward-thinking education, evidence based smart public policy, and small business entrepreneurship.He is the type of person we need in Helena to modernize government and empower the Montana work ethic to win in the 21st century.