Business Advice From SCHEELS Chair Of The Board Steve D. Scheel

by on Feb 17, 2017

Photo by J. Alan Paul Photography

Started in 1902 as a small hardware and general merchandise store in Sabin, Minnesota by Steve Scheel’s great grandfather, SCHEELS is now a 26-store operation with stores in 11 states. SCHEELS is known for being an employee-owned, privately-held business.

Q: What local networking events do you recommend attending?

A: A person ends up much more well-rounded if they get to know people in other organizations. The United Way and the Chamber of Commerce are good starting points, but other charitable organizations are valuable if a person contributes in a meaningful way.

Q: What are some of the most helpful resources you’ve used from the state of North Dakota or in the Fargo area?

A: Mayor Furness was a valuable resource when we planned to build our new store on 45th street. Getting to know the Mayor and key City Commissioners is always a good idea. The Bank of North Dakota has partnered with local banks to help us finance projects, and nothing beats the great people we are able to hire in FargoMoorhead.

Q: What organization or business in the FM area do you admire?

A: I admire private, local businesses and organizations that have stood the test of time. RDO, Dakota Specialty Milling, NDSU and Bell Bank come to mind. The Dakota Medical Foundation, Salvation Army, Legacy Children’s Foundation and other long time non-profits do so much that is good in our community. I also admire Fargo Assembly. They are a long-time Fargo company that serves major implement manufacturers across the country with wiring harnesses and employs hundreds of people.

Q: What is the best business advice you’ve ever received?

A: Number one, put “Think Time” on your calendar every week to study a particular challenge, even if for only 30 uninterrupted minutes. Number two, the culture you build in your people is far more important than your strategy.

Q: If somebody approached you about starting their own business, what would be your one piece of advice?

A: The customer experience is critical. If the customer returns because of the customer service and overall experience, you cannot help but succeed. Say “Thank you” every time.

Q: What local business person has been a role model for you?

A: I was fortunate to have my father Fred Scheel as my key mentor and disciplinarian, Bob Alin at SCHEELS to teach me the importance of being a people person, Lloyd Paulson at SCHEELS to teach me meaningful budgets and my partner Steve Hulbert who pushed the envelope with new products. I learned more from them than I learned in four years of college.

A Deeper Dive ↓

  • United Way: Focusing on four components (education, income stability, health and basic needs), the United Way of Cass-Clay raised $5.5 million in 2014 to go back to the community.
  • Chamber of Commerce: The Chamber in our community is actually the largest chamber of commerce in North Dakota or Minnesota and serves 2,100 private, public and non-profit member firms.
  • Mayor Furness: Bruce Furness was the mayor of Fargo from 1994-2006.
  • Bank of North Dakota: As the only state owned bank in the country, the Bank of North Dakota promotes agriculture, commerce and industry. The bank works with more than 100 North Dakota financial institutions.
  • RDO: A dealer of John Deere and other equipment, RDO was started in 1968 and now has 75 dealerships in 10 states and several international partnerships.
  • Dakota Specialty Milling: Since 1969, the company has been producing custom-milled ingredients and wholegrain blends for some of the largest cereal and bread makers in the world.
  • NDSU: NDSU is one of the top universities in the country and is listed on the National Science Foundation’s top 100 in several areas, including agricultural sciences, social sciences, physical sciences, chemistry and more.
  • Bell Bank: With assets of more than $3.5 billion and business in 50 states, Bell Bank is just as well known for their loyalty to treating their employees well.
  • Dakota Medical Foundation: An organization that leads initiatives to create a region of the healthiest people, assists with fundraising and invests in new ideas that can create widespread health improvement.
  • Salvation Army: From emergency disaster response to basic need services like free hot meals to rent and utility assistance to counseling, the Fargo Salvation Army is working to solve the community’s biggest problems.
  • Legacy Children’s Foundation: Assisting diverse teens to graduate from high school, the Legacy Children’s Foundation was developed by Fargo teenagers.
  • Fargo Assembly: With a global presence, Fargo Assembly has eight plants across the U.S. and in England. They manufacture electrical wiring assemblies for various industries.
  • Fred Scheel: Scheel started the first SCHEELS, a small hardware and general merchandise store in Sabin, Minnesota in 1902.
  • Bob Alin: Long time SCHEELS store manager.
  • Lloyd Paulson: Another long time SCHEELS store manager.
  • Steve Hulbert: Long time SCHEELS store manager.