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For Steve M. Scheel, life is an adventure. When he’s not at work, you might find him hunting, wake surfing or scuba diving.
And as CEO of SCHEELS, Steve is in the business of selling opportunities for adventure to others. The main store on 45th street in Fargo is more than a sporting goods store. In addition to shopping, you can also practice your swing in a golf simulator, test your skills in an old-time shooting gallery, and ride a Ferris wheel.
“I love what we do as a company,” Steve remarks. “We sell fun.”
Steve has been with SCHEELS for almost 30 years. He started working part time stocking shoes while he studied to become a pilot. He never felt pressured to go into the family business, but he found he loved the company and the people he worked with. It was also around the time when airlines were laying off pilots, so Steve decided to pursue a career at the company his family started in 1902.
SCHEELS began as a small hardware and general merchandise store in Sabin, Minn. It gradually expanded into other communities and added sporting goods in 1954. The company opened its first all sports superstore in Grand Forks in 1989 and 19 years later opened the world’s largest all sports store in Nevada. Today, SCHEELS has 27 stores in 12 states and does business nationally online.
“We’re lucky we had some founders who set us up for success. We hit the sporting goods business at the right time, and we just continue to capitalize on the great opportunity they set us up for,” notes Steve, who worked his way up to president in 2006 and CEO in 2015.
Steve says the way SCHEELS treats its employees also has a lot to do with the company’s growth and success. SCHEELS is an employee-owned, privately held business.
“Our goal is to be the best retailer in the eyes of our customers and associates,” Steve comments, adding that everyone in leadership starts in an entry-level position and works through each department. “Because how we do business is different than most retailers, the only way to learn it is from the ground up.”
That customer- and employee-focused culture is something SCHEELS shares with Bell Bank, where Steve has served on the board of directors since 2015. He took over for his father, Steve D. Scheel, who had been a longtime Bell board member.
“There’s not a service that we offer as a retailer or a bank that people can’t get somewhere else,” Steve notes. “If you don’t offer that level of customer service, why are they going to do their business with us?”
Another similarity between the companies is in the ways they both give back to the communities they serve.
“We’ve always given back to the communities pretty quietly,” Steve comments. “Most people don’t know we’re the number 1 retailer for giving back to the communities we’re in. The only reason we’re in business is because of those communities.”
Serving on Bell’s board, Steve says, is a good opportunity for him to learn from the bank and to share his perspective on what’s going on in the retail industry.
“I love Bell as a company,” Steve remarks. “There are a lot of similarities between SCHEELS and Bell, so it’s a good fit.”
Steve graduated from Moorhead High School and the University of North Dakota. In addition to Bell’s board, he serves on the F-M Curling Club board and the Scheels Executive Committee. He has also been involved with Boy Scouts of America, Babe Ruth Baseball, United Way of Cass-Clay and Oak Grove Lutheran School. Steve lives in Fargo with his wife, Tiffany. They have three children, Branden, Hunter and Miranda.
Read more about Steve
Learn about Bell Bank's board members