It seems we live in an age where loyalty, experience and moxie are competing with bottom line. It seems bottom line is winning. Consolidation and downsizing is rampant in business and the outdoors.

Experience does matter and everyone cannot be replaced with anyone. It seems folks in the boardroom believe that is the case and those who cut the path don’t seem to have anyone protecting their backs.

Mergers and acquisitions are game changers

A case in point in fishing is the recent acquisition of Cabela’s by Bass Pro Shops. The $5 billion merger of mega-giants in retail outdoor equipment positions BPS to be a bigger one, but there is going to be fallout. Having duplicate staffs in some job areas means a reduction in force and the buyer has the right to choose who will stay and who will leave from the seller.

Ten million dollars was earmarked for severance and retirement packages of employees in Sydney, Neb., the corporate home of Cabela’s. No doubt Bass Pro holds all the cards and has a great business plan, but PEOPLE are adversely impacted and years of dedication and loyalty get flushed. More than 1,400 people of a population of 6,800 in Sydney work at Cabela’s.

Some employees in IT and accounting will remain and Cabela’s distribution will remain in Sydney, but overall corporate operations of the conglomerate will move to Springfield, Mo., home of Bass Pro Shops.

This merger should bring consumers better access and availability, but time will tell as competition between the two retail giants had its place. The consumer could price shop. Will he be able to now? Manufacturers could be impacted, too. Bigger may or may not be better.

Does experience really matter? I have always believed those who came before me did all the heavy lifting and deserved most of the credit for success. In professional fishing, anglers such as Gary Klein, Shaw Grigsby, Guido Hibdon, Rick Clunn, Roland Martin and Bill Dance made fishing attractive to the masses. B.A.S.S. and FLW Outdoors built models where the anglers could actually make a living fishing.

It’s funny now that the “young” anglers such as Skeet Reese, Kevin VanDam, Mike Iaconelli and Gerald Swindle are now the veterans. What a difference a few years make.

Locally, men such as Jerry Martoglio, Loren Peters, Terry Gibson, Tommy Kaufman and Eddie Simpson cut the way for anglers by training them on effort and technique. Now young men such as Clay Reeves, Brad Norris, Justin Schick, Daniel Weikle and Dave Whalen are the torch bearers and it’s much more than catching fish and tournaments.

Even though they may not know it now, it’s their duty to pass on knowledge to youth anglers who will follow them. Take it from a veteran angler, it happens fast.

Loyalty and integrity: Old school and new school should be about integrity first. Earning your stripes both in life and fishing is fulfilling. There is no staying power in stepping on others or cutting corners to an objective.

Earning it is the best way and doing it the right way still has power. Integrity means doing it right and never having to look over your shoulder. Honesty, no matter how painful it can be at times, builds integrity.

Loyalty is a two-way street. If you are loyal to yourself most likely you will be loyal to your company and fishing. In turn your company and fishing has a duty to be loyal to you. To many it may not seem that way, but ultimately it’s about being able to look in the mirror.

The end game: Ultimately we will all get older and will all be veterans. Time passes quickly and I believe that cutting the swath for others just goes with the territory. I do wish the younger folks would be more respectful of how they got there. I call those who follow behind “inheritors” and they can either ride on the coattails and take credit for today or respect what was done prior and take a leadership role.

Professional golfer Ben Crenshaw told me once, “In order for golf to prosper all of us have to know how we got to where we are today. It’s not just how good you can play the game, but more about the history and technology that has improved to get us there.”

Take a look at your legacy. Is it self-centered and about winning at all costs, or is it making a difference and carrying the ball? The choice is yours.

Terry Brown is President of Wired2Fish.com, an industry leading, daily website and social media fishing centered community that provides information on products, industry newsmakers and fishing techniques. You can read more by going to www.Wired2Fish.com.

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