MASON CITY | From a small infants' and children's store opened in 1955 on South Federal Avenue, R. Lyle and Pat Bergo grew their clothing empire into ever more stores, culminating in 1967 in Bergo's Mini Mall, the shops within a shop.
Famous in its heyday for the slogan, "When Bergo's has a sale, it is a sale," the popular stores with upscale offerings and elegant displays went on to earn a feature in LIFE magazine and the undying loyalty of young women, parents and savvy dressers from around the area.
At the helm were Lyle and Pat, joined in short order by their four children, each complementing the family asset with their unique gifts.
The advent of the big-box stores led finally to the closing of Bergo's clothing stores after 50 years in business.
The death of Lyle Bergo in 2010 meant the end of an era in a way, but family he left behind has each found a niche for their own independent businesses.
Today, Pat Bergo and her children, Pamala, Jeffrey, Rex and Jennifer, plus spouses Julie Bergo, Rex's wife, and Karl Langhart, Jennifer's husband, carry on the mantle laid down by the father whose vision for Mason City's downtown inspired each of them.
Asked what was the best advice he had ever received, Lyle Bergo once said it was "gumption," a word he understood to mean more than mere success:
"Gumption to me is not just the idea of succeeding, ... it is giving every customer and every employee a fair break, putting the Golden Rule to use, treating every man as we would like to be treated."
In this issue of In Business, we look at the Bergo family, their varied businesses and the one attribute they all share: Success.