Short Strikes No. 3

This week, FTR checks out Cabela’s HQ in Nebraska, learns of cuts at two of the former Big Three outdoor publications, and gets a bird’s eye view of Raymarine’s latest breakthrough.

Cabela’s HQ employees receive buyout offers

According to an internal memo obtained by the Omaha World-Herald, many Cabela’s employees have until March 1 to accept a buyout offer from Bass Pro Shops. Who gets the offer? Sidney, Nebraska-based employees who are over 50 years old, with a minimum of one decade of service, are being offering two weeks of severance pay for each year of service, in addition to a $40,000 bonus to accept.

Younger employees with less than a decade of service are being offered the same severance pay, plus a $20,000 bonus for departure.

Meanwhile, At least 19 management level employees at Cabela’s have been laid off in recent weeks. Bass Pro Shops isn’t releasing official figures, but does confirm that they are “adjusting staffing” at Cabela’s stores across the country.

“Many of the outfitters impacted received promotions to other management roles, while some were eliminated,” Bass Pro Shops Communications Manager Katie Mitchell told FTR. “Ultimately, this adjustment will increase the overall headcount of team members.”

The strike: At one time, Cabela’s employed about 2,000 people in the 6,800-person town of Sidney. That number is already under 1,000 and will be falling in the wake of this week’s buyout offers.

ICAST changes New Product Showcase voting

The American Sportfishing Association has quietly changed voting procedures for this year’s New Product Showcase at ICAST (sponsored by FTR). Voting will now be held over a two-day period, with the first round of voting taking place the Tuesday night before ICAST doors open—same as always—and resuming the following Wednesday until 2:00 p.m. That’s more or less standard procedure from years past. However, new for 2018 is a second round of voting for overall Best of Show. The second round of voting opens on Thursday, in a new exhibition where only category winners are being showcased. Media and buyers are being asked to submit their votes for overall Best of Show from that selection.

The strike: The change is a much-needed amendment to New Product Showcase voting, which has been heavily criticized in recent years (not least by us) for inherently favoring categories with fewer overall competitors (e.g., it’s easier for a kayak to collect enough votes to win versus a hard lure, because there may be 12 kayaks and 200 hard lures).

Field & Stream, Outdoor Life cut short

In January, Bonnier Publishing laid off 70 employees, including 30 in its Winter Park, Florida, office in the U.S. The move was called a “bloodbath” in some publishing circles, and it was shortly followed by the trimming of two outdoor industry titans—Field & Stream, and Outdoor Life. Print frequency for Field & Stream, which according to the New York Post is one of Bonnier’s most widely-circulated magazines, is being cut from nine issues per year to six. Meanwhile, Outdoor Life gets an even broader axe, falling from nine issues to just four.

The strike: Neither publication could be accused of navigating the digital transition seamlessly, but both have been stalwarts in the outdoor world for more than a century. They’re the grandparents of fishing magazines nationwide, and as such still carried a banner that demands respect. In an internet-fueled world where media is in higher demand than ever and outdoor recreation accounts for more than $370 billion dollars per year, the cuts put another spotlight on the struggle that legacy print publications have had converting subscription revenue models to digital income. The money is out there—but how do you get people to spend it when so much information is available for free? That’s a riddle pondered in publishing offices across the country, and—apparently—at Field & Stream and Outdoor Life.

Raymarine drone strikes

Raymarine broke new ground air last week at the Miami Boat Show by unveiling drone compatibility on Axiom MFDs. Right now, the party trick works with DJI Spark and Mavic drones—two of the most affordable and popular portable drones on the market.

The strike: At first glance, the move might solicit eye rolls…until you think about the potential applications of a 4K video drone like the Mavic Pro scouting shoals and flats for you. Plug in a few battery chargers to your boat, and you’ve got a James Bond-like spy machine capable of sniping fish out from miles away. The integration also ups the game for fishing videographers, who suddenly have an even more impressive answer to the windscreen-mounted GoPro.

Skip to 0:50 to see for yourself: