“Mary, her late husband, Dick, and Jim Cabela personify the excellence of leadership intended to be honored by this award,” said NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre. “Their story is an extraordinary American tale of innovative leadership and achievement that has greatly impacted and benefited generations of hunters.”
Dick and Mary founded Cabela’s somewhat inadvertently in 1961 when he purchased $45 of hand-tied fishing flies while in Chicago on a furniture and housewares buying trip with his father for the family’s Chappell, Neb., furniture store. To market the flies, Dick decided to try selling them through the mail. When his first ad in a Casper, Wyo., newspaper produced only one sale, he placed an ad in Sports Afield: “FREE introductory offer!!! 5 popular Grade A hand-tied flies. Send 25c for postage and handling …” Orders started coming in as Mary typed the names and addresses of each customer on recipe cards and placed them in a shoebox. Realizing the potential for mail-order sales, Dick purchased more fishing gear and they produced a three-page catalog that they mailed with each order of free flies. As the business grew, in 1963 Dick approached his brother, Jim, with a proposal. If Jim would leave his banking job in Denver and return to Chappell to take over the day-to-day operation of the fledgling Cabela’s Distributing Company, Dick would give Jim half ownership. The rest, as they say, is history.
While Cabela’s was not the first company to offer outdoor gear through the mail, no company did it better or with more emphasis on value and customer service. When it comes to sheer innovation, many outdoor products exist thanks to the entrepreneurial spirit of Cabela’s that was instilled by Dick, Jim and Mary. Now a $3.7 billion business, Cabela’s is one of the most well-known outdoor-recreation brands worldwide with stores across the United States and Canada, an ever popular website and catalogs that continue to support generations of outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen on their outdoor adventures.
In step with the NRA’s mission “to promote hunter safety, and to promote and defend hunting as a shooting sport and as a viable and necessary method of fostering the propagation, growth and conservation, and wise use of our renewable wildlife resources,” Dick, Mary and Jim pursued business the way they pursued their outdoor passions—sincerely and with a vision. Both personally and professionally, they generously support conservation and advocacy groups, particularly the NRA, to help ensure the rights and traditions they enjoy continue through future generations. Many of NRA’s members help to achieve this most worthy mission every day through their professional and volunteer efforts.
Headquartered in Sidney, Nebraska, Cabela’s Incorporated is the world's largest direct marketer of hunting, fishing, camping and related outdoor merchandise. Today Cabela's is one of the most well-known outdoor recreation brands worldwide and has long been recognized as the World's Foremost Outfitter. Cabela’s continues to offer a wide selection of quality outdoor products at competitive prices while providing superior customer service. Cabela's also issues the Cabela's CLUB Visa credit card, which serves as its notable customer-loyalty rewards program.