Steve D. Scheel addressed more than 50 young professionalsat the YP Roundtable on Wednesday, February 27th. The event was held in the BSC Auditorium and the crowd included YP members, Scheels staff andattendees from our business partners.
Steve discussed his career at Scheels that started when hewas a child getting 1 penny per bag of nuts and bolts that he packaged in his father’s hardware store. He started on the selling floor at age 15, specializing in hockey, skates, and skis. He worked his way through the ranks and is currently the Board Chairman. Throughout his career, Steve received training and mentorship from multiple individuals. He stressed the importance of having mentors who demonstrate various aspects of success. He had certain mentors who taught him specifically the value of communication, others who showed him howto be a good merchant and others who taught him the principals of finance.
Scheels has experienced tremendous growth in its over 100years in operation. As a 5 generation business, the model and practices haveevolved over the years to make the company what it is today. Steve wasinstrumental in the shift from operating the business as a hardware, housewares,and sporting goods store to the exclusive focus on sporting goods, which hasmade the company so successful. Following the shift to exclusively offering sporting goods, Steve took over as President and CEO.
Under Steve’s direction, the Scheels brand continued to grow opening locations across the country. However, when he took over as President and CEO in 1989, approximately 50% of the store leaders were failing in their positions. He recognized the need for better mentorship and training programs for store leaders and implemented a robust internal training program for all employees. Leadership is a crucial aspect of the company’s success. All hiring for management positions is done within the company – individuals work their way into management based on performance. Every employee is viewed as a teammate –Steve stressed that there are no ‘bosses’, just teammates.
He also discussed the importance of the company’s culture and the role culture has played in the success of the Scheels brand. Leaders at Scheels have 5 goals:
- Hire for attitude and train for skill
- Lead by example
- Immerse our staff in our culture
- Help them become great at what they do
- Make sure they enjoy their career or part time job at Scheels
Another major contributor to the culture is the ownership structure. Scheels is an employee-owned company (ESOP) which means all thecompany stock is owned by Scheels employees. Steve noted that they expect top performance from their teammates, and they see the results of that performance in the value of the stock.
Scheels is one of the few retailers that is continuing to open new brick and mortar stores, with three set to open in 2020. Steve credited this to the experience customers have when they come to the stores. From the shooting range to the Ferris wheel, stores are designed to be a place that families will enjoy their shopping experience. In addition, a key to success is separating the men from the women by placing their ‘sections’ in opposite sides of the store. This encourages them to shop in areas where all the merchandise is tailored to their needs. Finally, Scheels prides itself on outstanding customer service. Steve said that Scheels wins “Best Customer Service” in not only retail categories, but allcategories on a regular basis in their stores across the country. These awards are attributed to the diligent training program that staff members experience giving them the product knowledge and people skills to best serve the customers at Scheels.
Steve responded to nearly 25 minutes of questions and answers and graciously shared additional insight based on the questions of our Members. We appreciate Steve taking the time to present to us and visit with our Membersafterward. The YP Network donated $100 to the Legacy Children’s Foundation in Fargo as a thank-you to Steve for his presentation. In addition, we provided a Pride of Dakota gift basket full of goodies, which he promptly gave to the Bismarck Scheels staff members to take back to their break room and share. Yet another testament to the servant leadership that Steve embodies. Thank you for your presentation Steve!