Nearly 700 Cabela’s employees in Sidney volunteer for buyouts; 300 will leave this week

Nearly 700 Cabela’s employees in Sidney volunteer for buyouts; 300 will leave this week
World-Herald News Service

About 300 Cabela’s employees in Sidney have taken Bass Pro’s buyout offer as the outdoors retailer winds down the headquarters operation in Nebraska. They will leave the company this week.

Nearly 400 more Cabela’s workers also “volunteered to exit,” Bass Pro said Thursday, but the company is postponing any action on those people until it determines its needs and what opportunities could be available in Sidney or elsewhere.

For those people, the company said it will take an “extended period of time” to evaluate its personnel options; if after that time, any of their positions end up being eliminated, Bass Pro still will give them their full buyout package, the company said in a memo given to The World-Herald.

The company in February offered buyouts to employees at the former Sidney headquarters as it consolidates its home office operations to Springfield, Missouri, where Bass is located. Cabela’s employees had until March 1 to decide whether to accept the buyouts, which included severance and bonuses of up to $40,000.

Bass hasn’t said what will happen to employees who don’t accept the buyouts. The company finalized its $5 billion purchase of Nebraska-based Cabela’s last year.

Meanwhile, Bass Pro Shops said Thursday it was “aggressively marketing” the former Cabela’s headquarters in Sidney.

Bass took out an ad in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal offering the former headquarters buildings for $1 per year to attract employers to the city of 6,800 where the company once employed more than 2,000 people.

Says the ad, which Bass says cost it more than $100,000 to run: “Usually, we’re all about the catch. This time, there isn’t one.”

More than 550,000 square feet is available in a campus of buildings in the city about six hours west of Omaha. The buildings are worth “at least $35 million,” Bass spokesman Jack Wlezien said, but Bass will offer them to a qualified company for only $1 a year. He said the company is doing this to attract new jobs to Sidney.

Though it’s closing the Sidney headquarters, Bass said at least 500 corporate jobs will remain in Sidney, with roles in information technology, accounting, facilities, finance, personnel, logistics and procurement. An exact headcount hasn’t yet been determined, the company said.

Wlezien said Bass Pro is “trying to do all we can” to help the people of Sidney and Cabela’s workers who could be affected by job cuts.

Aside from marketing the buildings for $1 a year, Bass is telling its vendors about opportunities in Sidney. Bass founder and Chief Executive Johnny Morris has contacted the Sidney school system, the Bass spokesman said, and the company is “providing significant support” for education programs in the community.

World-Herald staff writer Paige Yowell contributed to this report.