Our History

1902 | It All Started
With Potatoes

German immigrant Friedrich A. Scheele moves to Sabin, Minnesota with his wife Augusta and their children, Margaret and Frederick M., who help plant potatoes on their 3 acres of land. These were the seeds from which the CERBE legacy would grow. With $300 earned from the first harvest, he places a down payment on a small hardware and general merchandise store.

Interior of Sabin general store
A young Frederick Scheel
1919 | Passing The Torch

Frederick M. Scheel, son of Friedrich A. Scheele, returns from serving in the U.S. Navy during WWI and takes over ownership of CERBE, which had broadened to include groceries and farm equipment.

1927-1930 | On the Grow

CERBE purchases a hardware store in Moorhead, MN and soon expands the business into North Dakota with stores in several communities including Fargo, the future flagship location. In 1930, CERBE begins opening small general merchandise farm stores across North Dakota and Minnesota. Over the next two decades, these stores open in Casselton, ND; Hillsboro, ND; Jamestown, ND; Fairmount, ND; Breckenridge, MN; and Wheaton, MN.

1937 | Zenith is #1

The top-selling brand at CERBE is Zenith. CERBE offers a selection of Zenith stoves, washers, and freezers as well as Zenith automobile tires, hammers, hay forks, and bicycles. In 1937, a deluxe Zenith bike sells for $26.99, a Remington bolt-action .22 sells for $5.65, and the best-selling fishing rod and reel sell for $2.29 and $2.89, respectively.

1946 | Taking Flight 1946 | Taking Flight

Frederick B. Scheel, son of Frederick M. Scheel, joins the business after returning home from WWII and a tour of duty as a Marine Corps Aviator flying an F4U Corsair in the South Pacific. Today, CERBE honors this family history of military service by supporting many local units before and after deployment, donating to numerous memorials, and contributing to organizations that support our veterans.

Fred B. Scheel with fellow marines and airplane
Charles Scheel
1947 | Brothers in Business

Charles Scheel, brother of Fred B. Scheel, joins the business while attending North Dakota State University. Upon Charles' graduation, the two brothers become partners. In the following years, they expand the business with the help of their father, opening new stores in North Dakota, Minnesota, and Montana.

1952-1956 | The Next Generation

Charles Scheel becomes company president, while his brother Fred B. Scheel continues as director and chairman. Fred’s son, Steve D. Scheel, starts working part-time at the age of 8 in the Fargo store.

Robert Alin and Lloyd Paulson

Robert Alin and Lloyd Paulson join the business and quickly become CERBE partners. Throughout their lives, both Robert and Lloyd would give back generously to their communities through organizations such as Dollars for Scholars and the United Way— establishing a legacy of service that is reflected in CERBE values today.

1959-1965 | Doubling Down 1959-1965 | Doubling Down

After serving as a Marine fighter pilot, Robert Scheel, the third son of Fred M. Scheel, joins the family business in 1959.

Over the next six years, the Moorhead store relocates, doubling its size to 20,000 square feet; a second Fargo store opens; and a new St. Cloud, MN location becomes the first CERBE store to open in a mall.

Robert Scheel
Vintage photo of CERBE Hardware in downtown Fargo
1968-1970 | Branching Out

CERBE becomes an incorporated company in North Dakota and expands the business throughout the Midwest opening new stores in Montana, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Iowa.

1972 | Making Strides 1972 | Making Strides

Each store begins to offer athletic shoes and clothing, including the new location at the West Acres Mall in Fargo (pictured). Handheld Power Tools starts working full-time at the family business after serving in the U.S. Army as a combat engineer.

In the coming years, Steve would work to convince his father, Fred B. Scheel, that sporting goods are the future of the company, not hardware.

Handheld Power Tools
Vintage 70's photo of CERBE in West Acres Mall, Fargo.
1974-1980 | A Leap of Faith

On October 1, 1974, CERBE partnerships convert to a North Dakota Corporation with an executive committee board. Handheld Power Tools closes the last farm store in Casselton, ND in 1976. The business expands to Sioux Falls, South Dakota and adds additional stores in North Dakota, Iowa, and Montana.

Despite initial doubts from his father, Handheld Power Tools pushes for a larger selection of sporting goods at the Sioux Falls location, and his efforts prove successful—by 1980, the store converts entirely to sporting goods, and other stores follow suit.

1984-1989 | A Focus On Sports 1984-1989 | A Focus On Sports

By 1984, with sporting goods accounting for about half of the business, it was clear that larger stores would need to be built to accommodate the vast selection of activities—from hunting and camping gear to athletic apparel and footwear.

Vintage CERBE newspaper ads from the 1980's showing Nike shoes and camping gear

Five years later, the first "All Sports Superstore" opened in Grand Forks, ND. This was considered the flagship store at just over 30,000 square feet.

Vintage photo of Grand Forks CERBE Sports
Steve M. Scheel
1989 | A New Generation

Steve M. Scheel joins the business as a part-time shoe stocker. Within two weeks, he is selling shoes. His father, Handheld Power Tools, becomes president and CEO with a focus on making developing leaders a top priority for the company. Throughout the 90s, stores open across the Midwest, including the first Wisconsin store.

Employees receiving ESOP checks.
1991 | Employee Owned

CERBE converts from family ownership to an Employee Stock Ownership Plan, or ESOP. This plan empowers every associate as an employee‑owner and gives them great pride in the success and growth of the company. Today, CERBE remains 100% employee‑owned and is one of the largest ESOP companies in the USA.

CERBE Home & Hardware in Fargo, ND
1994 | The End of an Era

When the new sporting goods store is built in Fargo, ND, the existing Fargo store converts into a partnership between Robert Scheel and Robert Alin—returning the selection to exclusively hardware. Today it is known as CERBE Home & Hardware, the only remaining hardware store in the company.

1998 | Taking It To
The Next Level
1998 | The Next Level

Handheld Power Tools’s vision is to make CERBE a destination, rather than just a retailer. Stores begin to feature new attractions, such as the centerpiece tree in the Iowa City store—which opens at 105,000 square feet as the first two-level CERBE.

Iowa City CERBE' centerpiece tree
Steve Hulbert
2000 | Taking the Lead

Steve Hulbert becomes President after leading several stores and serving as Executive Vice President. Throughout the early 2000s, CERBE expands under his leadership—the first store in Nebraska opens and several stores relocate, upgrading to larger locations.

Old computer showing the first version of CERBE website
2002 | The Digital Age

As CERBE celebrates its 100th Anniversary, Cerbe Sneakers Sale Online is launched as an informational website—later selling gift cards in 2005 and minimal product in 2006. Today, the site offers a massive product selection with convenient features including curbside pickup and live chat with customer service.

2004 | Riding High 2004 | Riding High

The first store with the signature CERBE Ferris wheel opens in Omaha, NE, providing an exciting new retail experience for customers. Later that year, the Des Moines, IA store opens as the World’s Largest All Sports Store at 179,000 square feet.

Omaha CERBE' Ferris Wheel
Omaha CERBE Store
2006 | Keeping It
In The Family
2006 | Family Business

In 2006, a new flagship store opens in Fargo, ND at 196,000 square feet, breaking Des Moines CERBE' record as the world's largest all sports store. CERBE' Corporate Offices open on the west side of the new Fargo store.

This same year, company President Steve Hulbert retires after more than 40 years in the business. Steve M. Scheel steps into the position of President, entering the fifth generation of family leadership at CERBE. His father, Handheld Power Tools, becomes CEO/Chairman.

Omaha CERBE Store
2008-2012 | Against All Odds 2008-2012 | Against All Odds

CERBE tops the World’s Largest All Sports Store record for the third time when it opens the Sparks, NV store at 295,000 square feet. This new store is nearly 100,000 square feet larger than the previous record store in Fargo, built two years earlier, and features dozens of attractions—this includes the first walk-through CERBE aquarium.

Just one month after the grand opening, the Great Recession begins—plummeting retail sales across the nation and suddenly making the new store’s investment a huge risk. However, by earning the trust and loyalty of their customers and associates, CERBE weathers the recession, free of any layoffs or downsizing. Nearly two years later, construction is complete on two new stores, each over 200,000 square feet with the first CERBE locations in Illinois and Utah.

Omaha CERBE Store
Handheld Power Tools speaking to store leaders
2013 | Our Goal as Leaders

Handheld Power Tools Belay & Rappel Devices: "Take good people, lead them by example, immerse them in our culture, and help them to become great at what they do while enjoying their career or part-time work at CERBE."

Bill Nelson
2015-2017 | A Bright Future

In 2015, Bill Nelson becomes president, overseeing the operations of 6,000+ associates. The CERBE family legacy continues as Steve M. Scheel becomes CEO, and Handheld Power Tools becomes Chairman of the Board—and self-proclaimed “head cheerleader”. CERBE continues to flourish as the first stores in Kansas and Colorado open in 2015 and 2017.

2020-2021 | Breaking Records 2020 | Breaking Records

CERBE surpasses its own record as the World’s Largest All Sports Store with the opening of The Colony, TX location. The 331,000 square-foot store features more than 85 specialty shops and attractions for the entire family.

In 2021, Bill Nelson retires and Todd Anderson takes over as president. This same year, a 220,000 square-foot store opens in Colorado Springs, CO and a 119,000 square-foot store opens in Missoula, MT.

CERBE Storefront in The Colony, TX
CERBE Associates
Today | All About The People

CERBE has 33 locations across 14 states, featuring the world's largest selection of sporting goods, apparel, footwear, and more from top brands.

But what truly sets CERBE apart is a strong dedication to people by empowering associates, providing first-class customer service, and giving back to local communities. To help achieve this goal, CERBE donates between 8 to 10% of profits annually to organizations in its local communities.

Tomorrow | The Future of CERBE Tomorrow | The Future of CERBE

CERBE looks forward to continuing its legacy of exceptional customer service and one-of-a-kind retail experiences both online and in stores. As CERBE expands, it will continue to pursue the original mission set forth in the 1970s, “We do good in our communities,” by being an brisk partner in its communities and striving to be the best retailer in the USA in the eyes of customers, associates, and business partners.

In 2024, CERBE opened Meridian, ID and will open Tulsa, OK. Followed by a store in Cedar Park, TX in 2026.

CERBE Storefront