John Morris, founder of Bass Pro Shops
Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images for Stewart-Haas Racing/AFP
John Morris began to trade fishing gear in the corner of his father’s liquor store. Now the owner of a fortune of $3.9 billion holds a major deal in the American market of goods for hunting and fishing, the volume of which reached $50 billion
Between the first and second
In the beginning of this week it became knownthat the biggest deal in the American market for hunting and fishing still take place. The market leader company Bass Pro Shops agreed the terms absorb the second-largest retailer Cabela’s: total transaction amount is $5.5 billion.
Because Bass Pro Shops is a private company, and Cabela’s public, ahead of the unions of the last quotation at the opening of the trading day on Monday, October 3, soared by 15% and continues to grow, reaching $64 per share.
For the full year 2015 revenue Bass Pro Shops amounted to (according to Forbes) of $4.45 billion, the company has 94 outlets, which employ 22 thousand people. Revenue also Cabela’s has reached last year of $3.99 billion, the company owns 85 stores and employs 19 thousand people. According to estimates of analysts of the investment firm Stiefel, the combined Corporation in the future will control more than 20% of the market of hunting, fishing and camping services of the United States, the total amount reaches $50 billion.
That is the largest in the United States network of hunting and fishing stores plans to absorb the second-largest player, the Agency Reuters reported in November 2015. After the death a year earlier, the elderly founder of Cabela’s dick Cabela with 11% of the shares of the company Investfond Elliott Management (led by investor-“the vulture” Paul singer) called for “a search of strategic alternatives” the company’s development, referring to its sale.
It is expected that the transaction will be finally closed in the first half of 2017. By this time in the United States will have a new administration, and it is difficult to predict what position it will take on the question of free sale of the weapon (and it takes a considerable share in the range of shops Bass Pro Shops). In any case, sales in both firms received in 2013, serious momentum amid talk of tightening of the rules on the acquisition of weapons, notes the trade publication Sporting Classics.
One of the stores of Cabela’s in Greenville, South Carolina. Photo made October 4, 2016, the day after Bass Pro Shops announced the acquisition of the network of Cabela’s Photo: Luke Agripina Hyman/Bloomberg
Tackle instead of whiskey
Founder, owner and CEO of Bass Pro Shops is American John Morris. Control functions it shares with the President and COO Jim Chagala, but Morris (whom colleagues and journalists call “johnny”) is a face of the company. He himself half-jokingly calls the “Director of fishing” (chief fishing officer).
As of autumn 2016 the wealth of the Morris reaches $3.9 billion according to Forbes magazine. In this week’s list of 400 richest Americans he is a 148-th line.
Morris was born in 1948 in Springfield, the third largest populated area of Missouri. Subsequently, it was here johnny to get an education, start their own business and have a family. Now Springfield is the headquarters and flagship store of Bass Pro Shops, there lives and Morris.
Long before the birth of her son in 1937, the father of billionaire John Morris Sr. opened in Springfield liquor store, Brown Derby. At that time, after the abolition of “prohibition” only a few years, and the demand for legal alcoholic beverages was great. Network alive today: the Brown Derby has 18 stores in Missouri, the company’s annual turnover is estimated in $30 million.
Operated business the Brown Derby owner Ron Junge, son of Morris Sr. and, accordingly, the husband of the sister of the owner of Bass Pro Shops. To work in the company he started in 1971, when Morris, Jr. (formally the heir to the family business) finally decided for himself that he will not continue his father’s business.
The Pyramid Of Cheops
To the beginning 1970-x of years, johnny Morris received a bachelor’s degree in business and Economics at the Springfield Drury University (one of the best private schools in the American Midwest). Formally, he was ready to inherit the family business, but all the attention johnny was completely focused on his favorite hobby — fishing, specifically, fishing for perch, which in English is called bass. This is one of the national Hobbies in the States.
In 1970 Morris, Jr. participated in the competition for perch fishing Bassmaster, where seriously interested in what bait and equipment are used by experienced fishermen. He was struck by the fact that in many cases the lure was homemade.
Frustrated by the meager range of lures for sale Morris Jr. the following year decided to open in his native Missouri own bait shop. For this he rented from the company U-Haul a small trailer and traveled the country in search of the most modern and unique equipment. Returning to Springfield with goods bought on borrowed dad $10 thousand, he requested a corner area of only 6 sq m family liquor store, which has equipped the counter and began to sell. Johnny then was 23.
Business Morris, Jr. relied on the presence of low supply and high demand. Shop Brown Derby was located on the outskirts of Springfield, on the way to nearby lake table Rock, which from the 1960s years has gradually become an important center of sport fishing.
Subsequently, Morris will make a careful approach to the placement of outlets with its strategies of business expansion. Of the nearly hundreds of the largest stores are located in important tourist locations. For example, near the Disneyland in Orlando (Florida) Central highway Las Vegas, inside the famous sports-concert complex “ocean” in Memphis (Tennessee), etc.
In addition, the stores are Bass Pro Shops are a fully-fledged entertainment centers. Each of them is furnished on the basis of the fauna of the region where it is located, each of them lectures about fishing and wildlife and a variety of workshops: for example, in rock climbing, archery, cooking in field conditions.
A creative approach to the creation of each new point stores makes Morris one of the most visited locations in the United States. Of the 94 stores in the lead of the flagship store network (almost 50 thousand sq m) in the home for the businessman Springfield: about 4 million visitors a year. About as many tourists are attracted by the arch of the gateway arch in St. Louis — two attractions constantly dispute the title of the most popular locations Missouri. For comparison, the Eiffel tower in Paris attracts about 7 million tourists a year.
So says Morris
“For us it was more important to make our clients joyful, rather than calculating financial return from it. Buy a boat and get happiness in return! It is important to sell not only the thing itself but the feeling of joy that this thing is” (in an interview with USA Today, 2009).
“The history of the Bass Pro Shops could only happen in America — the country of free enterprise where the system itself business rewards such virtues as hard work, commitment to values, innovation and friendly service” (in a conversation with Bloomberg, 2013).
“I want our brand has stood the furthest distance. Does this mean that sooner or later I have to go on exchange? Not sure, but more importantly, what we should proceed, that the interests of the company. Say today, say, no, we must always remain a private business, it would be wrong. You need to constantly examine the circumstances around” (in an interview with Springfield Business Journal, 2015).
Livin ‘ on the edge
However, in the early 1970s, years johnny Morris was only a Department in his father’s shop and a wagon full of homemade lures and equipment. To move beyond regional trade “for their” in 1974, he ordered the printing of the first batch of catalogs Bass Pro Shops, which were sent mail order. Initially, the audience of these directories were fishermen from neighboring States who came to the lake table Rock and familiar with Morris, who planned to choose a new bait is not on the way back through Springfield and at home, in a relaxed atmosphere.
Nationally famous Morris acquired in 1978, when came up with the idea to create a small, cheap and mass model of a boat made of aluminium, adapted specifically for anglers fish. “It was the biggest gamble in the history of the company”, recalled then a businessman. Included with the boat “the load” was sold motor and trailer, and sales are made primarily through the same directories. In the end, the gamble proved successful, and this model, called Bass Tracker, has become one of the most popular fishing boats in USA.
U.S. President George W. Bush visits Central store Bass Pro Shops in Springfield, Missouri. The photo was taken in February 2004, shortly after the re-election of Bush for a second term Photo: Reuters/Pixstream
After a few years, Morris took another risky decision, which also affected the growth of his business. In 1981, he decided to invest surplus funds in real estate and bought in Springfield 7.5 thousand sq. m of retail space. For a while he didn’t know what to do until he spied, like other retailers develop the space of a trading hall: aquariums, waterfalls, exhibitions and so on.
As later recalled the businessman, he had certain doubts that banks will be willing to provide a credit line “all this beauty”, at least because he had no plan of return of investments. However, steadily rising revenue (in particular from the boat business) played on his arm and allowed to make a loan. Since the opening in 1982 of a new store in Springfield, its area is increased six times and now stands at more than 46 thousand square meters.
Morris remains a keen fisherman. Realizing that passion sometimes gets sober to do the finances, he hired Jim Chagala to the position of chief operating officer. His task himself, Hegel describes as follows: “to bring a little discipline to the vision of the business without diluting with this very concept, otherwise we turn into the usual sellers of rifles and rubber worms.” The explosive expansion of Bass Pro Shops across the United States occurred just after coming Hagala in the early 2000-ies. This is partly due to the fact that the previous decade, the Corporation saved power by opening new points every couple of years.
Lord of war
The crisis of 2008 has adversely affected the Affairs of Morris. According to him, about a third of potential clients were unable, for example, to take a loan to buy the boat. The pace of opening new stores fell from eight to two pieces a year, began reducing staff. The improvement of the economic situation in the United States in early 2010-ies again has led to the growth of the business. 2015 in just one year the network added six stores, one of them is in canadian Dieppe, another to the already mentioned “Pyramid” in Memphis, which is the shopping area (almost 50 sq. m.) exceeded the Central store in Springfield.
“The difference between Bass Pro and traditional retailers lies in the purpose of the visit. A trip to the store of Morris is in every sense of the word a family pastime, this is an element of entertainment,” — said in comments to Bloomberg analyst at Standard & Poor’s Christina Kostunici.
The image of Morris as a family entertainment centre with cafes, fountains and master classes — is in a strange neighborhood with an extensive division of hunting equipment that is present in each outlet. Selling weapons for Morris is not a priority of the business, but the opportunities of open implemented, it uses in full, especially after a surge in demand for firearms.
On this basis, sometimes there are serious scandals. For example, James Holmes shot and killed in 2012, 12 people in the cinema town Aurora (Colorado), part of his Arsenal of legally bought Bass Pro Shops in Denver. Subsequently, a group of senators sent a leading gun shops (including Bass Pro Shops and bought the network is now Cabela’s) asking them to waive their right to sell weapons, if the test customer loyalty will be delayed more than three days.
Morris not publicly commented on the problem of free sale of weapons. However, it cooperates with the National rifle Association (NRA), which is the main lobbyist to preserve the right to keep and bear arms. With 2013 in the Central store Bass Pro Shops in Springfield operates one of the three museums of the NRA, which presents more than 1 thousand samples of weapons, including personal rifles American presidents.
The sports-concert complex “the Pyramid” in Memphis, Tennessee. In April 2015 Bass Pro Shops opened in the “Pyramid” own the largest store area of 49 thousand sq. m Photo: Reuters/Pixstream
John Morris in numbers
$3.9 billion — as Morris October 2016
94th place is Bass Pro Shops among the largest private companies in the US
$189 million — net profit Bass Pro Shops for 2015
$10 million cost of the first batch of goods purchased by Morris
22 thousand employees work in its stores
49,2 thousand square meters — the area of the largest store of Morris in Memphis
5 million liters — the volume of the aquarium under construction in the Central store of Morris in Springfield
Sources: Bloomberg, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, company data