From Humble Beginnings to a Global Force
Peregrine’s history, which began in a modest living room setting, quickly evolved into a company with a mission to change the world.
Cliff vividly remembers when the concept of Peregrine took root. He and Olin, accompanied by their wives, were enjoying a dinner together when the conversation steered towards Cliff’s plans post-retirement. With over four decades of industry experience, Cliff identified a significant leadership training gap. He shared his vision of dedicating his post-career years to this meaningful endeavor. Remarkably, Olin echoed the sentiment, expressing his desire to pursue a similar path. This serendipitous exchange marked the beginning of their collaborative journey in founding Peregrine Leadership Institute.
Olin O. Oedekoven and Cliff Knesel’s early workshops, starting with their first at the Clarion, laid the groundwork for what Peregrine would become. In these formative years, they learned the importance of adaptability and perseverance. Misspellings on their first batch of embroidered shirts symbolized early mistakes. At the same time, the Gillette Chamber of Commerce’s recognition as Entrepreneurs of the Year in 2005 and landing a large contract with Caterpillar highlighted their growing success. By 2005, Olin and Cliff’s vision quickly gained momentum, securing clients like Wyoming Machinery and United Way, leading to 19 clients. In 2006, Peregrine initiated its first open enrollment leadership program, praised for its excellence, and continues to be offered today.
Cliff says, “We made a difference with the companies we touched. We could see our teachings’ results, which made it all worthwhile.”
As the company expanded, one critical lesson learned was the significance of nurturing relationships. This lesson shaped Peregrine’s values, innovations, and growth over 20 years.
The Birth of Peregrine Academic Services
Established in 2009, Peregrine Academic Services represented an expansion into EdTech. This move was spurred by Olin’s realization of a market need for online programmatic assessment while teaching at Northcentral University.
Understanding the nuances of the market was crucial during this phase. Peregrine responded to these challenges by innovating its service delivery. In its formative years, Peregrine rapidly developed its signature Knowledge-Based Assessments and Academic Leveling Modules.
The team’s agility in adapting to new insights, such as the necessity for higher education solutions to be efficient due to time constraints, was noteworthy. Additionally, recognizing the paramount importance of the student experience, Peregrine introduced the microsite concept, aimed at streamlining client processes. This innovation highlighted Peregrine’s commitment to ensuring its services were accessible and user-friendly.
One of the key milestones in these early years was the establishment of significant partnerships with accrediting partners like ACBSP and IACBE. These partnerships were essential in helping Peregrine reach their intended audience. Peregrine’s partnerships underscored the importance of strategic alliances, demonstrating how such partnerships can be instrumental in growth and innovation.
These early years were not just about expansion but also about deep introspection and learning. Peregrine’s journey during this period was characterized by strategic thinking, adaptability, and meeting the evolving needs of the higher education sector.
Strengthening and Global Expansion
The period from 2012 to 2014 was one of strengthening the operations of Peregrine Leadership Institute and Peregrine Academic Services.
During this phase, Peregrine embraced a fundamental lesson — the significance of valuing existing clients while simultaneously seeking new opportunities. This delicate balance required a nuanced approach, blending loyalty with ambition. By reinforcing their commitment to current clients, Peregrine demonstrated a deep respect for established relationships, acknowledging that their success lay in the trust and satisfaction of these long-standing partners.
As Peregrine Academic Services matured, a term emerged that would define its client relationships. Peter J. Holbrook, Ph. D., currently the Provost and Chief Operating Officer at Tiffin University, first used the phrase thought-partner. He said, “When you become a client of Peregrine, you have a thought-partner.”
The term encapsulated the essence of Peregrine’s collaborative approach with clients, where innovation and strategy align with client needs and expectations.
Yet, the original thought-partner was Laurel Vicklund, the President and Cofounder. During Peregrine’s initial 15 years, Laurel balanced her role as an environmental engineer and scientist with her contributions to Peregrine. Evenings and weekends were dedicated to brainstorming sessions with Olin, where they tackled ideas, challenges, and potential solutions. Laurel reflects on this time fondly, noting, “It was fun. Brainstorming and collaborating was a 24/7 job, but I enjoyed it.”
During this time, Olin worked tirelessly to ensure Peregrine’s success and led the small organization to venture into new territories, seeking fresh collaborations and opportunities. He recognized that growth, innovation, and quality were imperative for staying relevant.
Meeting Market Needs and Major Milestones
As Peregrine continued toward steady growth, a crucial understanding emerged: recognizing the difference between the market’s ‘needs’ and ‘wants.’ Peregrine realized that identifying a need in the market was only part of the challenge — equally important was aligning their services with what the market was willing and able to invest in.
In 2015, the company ventured into the publishing world with its first book, “Leadership Foundations,” which included practical leadership experiences and insights. The book reflected Peregrine’s depth of knowledge and commitment to sharing their expertise.
By 2017, Peregrine had achieved a remarkable feat — one million student registrations for its assessment services. This milestone was complemented by the launch of Write & Cite®, an online module designed to reduce plagiarism and teach the basics of academic writing.
In 2018, Peregrine Pathways was launched, a bold step toward producing publications on leadership and higher education. This initiative further cemented Peregrine’s status as a thought leader.
The following year, Peregrine expanded its impact by forming the Peregrine Global Foundation, which is dedicated to charitable activities in leadership development and improving the quality of higher education
The Formation of Peregrine Global Services
2020 marked a significant moment in Peregrine’s journey, indicating a new era as Peregrine Academic Services and Peregrine Leadership Institute merged into Peregrine Global Services. This merger symbolized a unification of services and the company’s evolution from its founder-driven roots to an organization propelled by a dedicated team.
Over the years, Peregrine had carefully cultivated a team deeply committed to the vision and mission initially set forth by Olin. This team’s devotion to these foundational principles was instrumental in Peregrine’s resilience and success.
Laurel Vicklund says, “Peregrine was founded with a clear purpose — to make a difference in the world. Over time, it has become increasingly apparent that our collective aspiration to help those we partner with is easier to do as a team. Collaboration is central to our identity and a key driver of our impact.”
As the company transitioned to being team-led, it retained its core values while embracing new perspectives and strategies from its diverse group of professionals.
Legacy and Future Innovations
The passing of founder Olin O. Oedekoven in 2022 was a poignant moment for Peregrine. His legacy and vision were entrusted to the Peregrine team, ensuring the continuation of the mission he passionately believed in.
Over the last two decades, Peregrine has continuously evolved, adapting to new challenges and opportunities. Its story is one of transformation, resilience, and unwavering dedication. As Peregrine stands today, it is a testament to its founders’ vision and a symbol of hope and excellence for future generations of leaders and educators.
This year is especially meaningful as Peregrine celebrates its 20th anniversary, a milestone that coincides with the introduction of the next phase of technology for assessing student learning.
As we look to the future, Kayla Vos, Chief Operating Officer, shares her optimism and vision, embodying the spirit of leadership that Oedekoven exemplified. “Reflecting on the past 20 years fills me with immense pride, but the next 20 years excite me the most. We will focus on innovating our assessments, reports, interfaces, and the overall user experience to make them more intuitive and impactful. We plan to integrate cutting-edge technology, like artificial intelligence, to produce more objective insights and promote data-driven decision-making. Most of all, we plan to continue to live by our values and be a company that makes a positive difference in the world.”
Peregrine’s commitment to innovation, quality education, and leadership, inspired by Oedekoven’s legacy, will always be its foundation. However, the journey is far from over, as Peregrine is gearing up for its next big leap. The next 20 years promise significant transformation and growth as Peregrine remains dedicated to elevating quality in education and fostering the next generation of leaders.