Part 3: How hunting buddies brought Cabella’s to Owatonna


I have developed a saying “Build a relationship, build a business”. The more I learn about business, the more I learn this to be true. I am learning more happens on golf courses, hunting trips and vacations than happens through a random site selector who comes through your town. Random site selectors tend to be more of a courtesy and means we were not necessarily a big contender in the first place.

As a business owner you want to be able to tie in business with pleasure. After all if you have to work, it might as well be fun. Especially when you begin to be a business that brings in the kind of money you can actually afford to have fun. Not only can your business now supply your fun, you can call it a business trip, because you and your buddy happen to be in the same kind of work.

I want to introduce you to a man named Reuben W. “Buzz” Kaplan. Buzz was a “make it happen” fly by the seat of his pants kind of guy. His adventurous life started after high school when he joined the army and was sent to Germany in 1943. After he came back from the war he earned his pilots license and flew planes all over the world. He won numerous awards for some of his flights. Guess what else he loved, hunting! He loved wild game hunts, and Arctic fishing trips. On one of his hunting trips he would get to know Dick Cabella, the founder and owner of ‘The Cabella’s’.

Through conversation they must have had a conversation that went something like this. Cabella to his hunting buddy Kaplan, “hey we’re looking to build some retail stores, we want to expand, do you know of any locations we should check into”. Kaplan to his hunting buddy Cabella, “hey why don’t you come to Owatonna. My company owns some land here, we’ll give it to you free, because you know, you’re my buddy and I’ll make my money from the surrounding businesses that come in. By the way, why don’t you make it a day trip destination, make it fun for the whole family, plus Medford outlet shopping center is near by, the wives will love it, it’s a win/win”.

I found an article written from Dennis Anderson, that states it really did go something like this:

“Dateline western Nebraska: Kaplan, Grant and I are hunting turkeys with Dick and Jim Cabela and Dennis Highby, Minnesota native and longtime Cabela’s CEO. But there’s an ulterior motive: Kaplan wants to plant the seed with the Cabela brothers and with Highby that Cabela’s should initiate a retail expansion by building a showcase store along Interstate 35, on the edge of Owatonna. Kaplan owned a couple of miles of land there, and with Grant’s help he broached the subject at night around a campfire. Ultimately, the Cabela brothers bought in, and began their now-nationwide retail initiative in Owatonna.  – Dennis Anderson, Star Tribune –

Kaplan owned or at least worked for the Owatonna Tool Company. This company owned not only their property but several properties in and around Owatonna. He had the power and ability to put action to his words. Two awesome things happened from this conversation in the deer blind, both friends and business partners, they came out a winner. They both had something to give and they would be able to mix business with pleasure.”

Similar to the moral of the story with IBM, the moral of the story here is who is your hunting, fishing, golfing, vacationing and/or college buddy. Who is looking for an opportunity to spend time with you and allows his company the room to expand it? We as a community are important representatives of our community. Who can you introduce to our economic agency, city and chamber.

We need to remember the big picture as we are out and about representing our home town. Are we talking about the assets our community brings to the world around us. Do we talk about our low crime rate, the accessibility to mulitple metropolises, the full time fire department, the heart of our community to lend a helping hand to our neighbors and the ability to have small town living. The bigger picture is it is not just “their” job, it’s our job and the sooner we own up to it and work with our leaders, the faster we will be able to grow.

Our issues are not a “them” issue, it is a “us” issue and we need to face the fact. The same city council has not sat on the council for the whole five generations my family has been here. The mayor, city manager and economic agency have not been in same positions either, yet, the issues have remained. Yes, my dear community members, it is an “us” issue. There is so much we as a community can do.  I look forward to sharing with you what I have learned. Ways our family and our business is able to help grow and support Albert Lea. We truly are better together!


My rebel heart loves Jesus. It has been a journey learning about his love for me, but he continues to fight for me and has won my heart. I am learning to love and respect my husband Mark. After four years of being a mommy I fell in love with the role God had given me and I am now a passionate homeschool, stay at home mom. I love outdoor adventures with my family and our husky Skye. I love creating delicious physically and emotionally satisfying meals. I love walking life’s hard road with those around me. I want to be a friend to the friendless and be a beacon of light and hope to the weary.

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