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Millner honors Dick Cabela at shareholder meeting

Company reports nearly $1 billion revenue increase since 2010


Caitlin Sievers

Cabela's CEO Tommy Millner thanked co-founder Mary Cabela for attending the company's 2014 shareholder meeting at the Sidney High School Performing Arts Center.

A revenue growth of $475 million in 2013 as well as more stores in the future were highlights of the 2014 Cabela's shareholder meeting, held at Sidney High School Performing Arts Center.

"You'll notice I'm not in a suit and tie," Cabela's CEO Tommy Millner told the audience. "There's several reasons for that. I hate suits and ties."

He explained that he donned the "tans" that Cabela's outfitters wear in honor of the company's founder Dick Cabela, who died earlier this year. This is the first shareholder meeting the company held without him.

"It symbolizes everything that we think about and hold dear in terms of cherishing the customer as Dick and Mary and Jim (Cabela) started the company doing," Millner said. "So today I wear the tans to honor the memory of Dick Cabela, whose spirit I feel in the room with us today and to honor those 18,000 outfitters that work tirelessly every day to make all of our dreams come true."

Shareholders voted on three issues this year. These issues were the election of 10 directors to a one year term, approval of Deloitte and Touche as the company's independent auditors and an advisory vote on executive compensation.

Based on preliminary votes, Millner informed the crowd that all three issues passed.

"All of our initiatives received overwhelming support, in fact more than 90 percent support, so we're very, very pleased by those results," Millner said.

Cabela's attributed its success in 2013 to the "It's in your nature" campaign, as well as the introduction of Zonz camouflage. Another new product, the Cabela's regulator bow, which was endorsed by country music singer Luke Bryan, sold well from the beginning.

In 2013 Cabela's won eight awards for product design and added 3,000 outfitters to its workforce. The company opened 10 stores last year, including its 50th store.

"A lot of excitement in 2013," Millner said. "That's all great, but did it translate to financial results? And the answer is, heck yes it did."

Cabela's revenue grew nearly $1 billion between 2010 and 2013. Earnings per share increased from $1.76 per share in 2010 to $3.32 in 2013.

"Fantastic progress," he said.

Millner told the crowd that the company would continue to build more retail stores in the next three to five years, continue to engage customers through various mediums, continue to grow the Cabela's brand of products, as well as to encourage customers to sign up for a Cabela's credit card.

Cabela's plans to open 14 stores in 2014, giving the company 64 stores at the end of this year. In 2015, the company plans to open another 14 stores.

Officials at Cabela's believe the company can build between 13-15 stores per year for the next 10 years and still continue to keep the company's culture intact. Millner called the Cabela's culture the guiding framework that the company operates under.

Cabela's is working to reach its customer through various mediums.

"The customer is changing the way they want to buy with us," Millner said.

Sometimes customers wish to buy from a phone, at a store, from a desktop computer or order online and pick up the item in the store. The company is working to ensure that all customers can easily buy through the medium he chooses.

About a year ago, Cabela's saw a large shift in what devices people were using to access the company's website. Users began to ditch desktop computers for tablets and then smart phones.

"Last fall we began to seriously enhance the user experience of our handheld platform, we continue that process as we dig through 2014," Millner said. "It's a never ending journey to figure out where the customer's going and be there for them."

In order to better facilitate sales, Cabela's launched an iPhone application for its floor sales people which allows them to check prices, print labels, find an item in the store and show the customer videos and reviews of any item.

"Could you shed a little light on what Cabela's is doing to deal with cyber security business continuity?" asked Ray McPherson, a Cabela's employee when Millner opened the meeting for questions from the shareholders.

Worries about cyber security, especially after the breach at Target, should keep any business person up at night, Millner answered.

After that breach, the company took a fresh look at its cyber security systems, which led to some improvements.

"Rest assured, we're going to stay on it," he said.

Millner assured those present that the company was working to serve what he called "an ever-changing U.S. color pattern."

"Minority populations are growing very rapidly in our country," he said. "And we need to be prepared to have a big enough green roof to serve all of those burgeoning populations."

The company has worked to eliminate what Millner called real or perceived obstacles to women in reaching top positions in the company. Cabela's now has two female directors, as well as more women in other leadership positions including store manager than ever before.

"Isn't that interesting, because a woman was a co-founder of the company," Millner said.

The company will continue to focus on racial diversity in all its endeavors.

"I can't tell you how proud I am, especially in the retail stores, when we go to the store openings, guess what's happening?" Millner asked. "The store population, our outfitters look like the community."

The company gave out several awards at the meeting, including the outfitter's award, which went to the Sidney distribution center.

"The Sidney distribution center absolutely obliterated every goal that we set for them," Millner said.

He thanked those at Sidney Public schools, specifically Superintendent Jay Ehler and High School Principal Chris Arent, for making the High School available for the meeting.

"We are ready to grow and ready to kick some butt," Millner said.

Before the meeting, Michael Riordan, a local Cabela's employee commented on how important it was for the company to keep its culture intact and how Cabela's had worked to do just that. Riordan worked for companies with a bad culture in the past and called them miserable places to work.

"This company is different," Riordan said.


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