Sportsman's Warehouse founder faces criminal chargesStuart Utgaard, former owner and president of Sportsman's Warehouse, appeared in St. Croix County Court on Tuesday, June 28, on charges of disorderly conduct-domestic abuse and second-degree reckless endangering safety.
By: Jeff Holmquist, New Richmond News
Stuart Utgaard, former owner and president of Sportsman's Warehouse, appeared in St. Croix County Court on Tuesday, June 28, on charges of disorderly conduct-domestic abuse and second-degree reckless endangering safety.
He pleaded not guilty before Judge Eric Lundell and was released on a signature bond. He was ordered not to have any contact with Kimberly Utgaard and his children, except by telephone. He was also ordered to have no contact with a local real estate agent.
St. Croix County sheriff's deputies were dispatched to the Utgaard household at 217 W. First St. in Star Prairie around 10:46 a.m. Monday morning. According to Sheriff John Shilts, at least one shot was discharged from a shotgun during a dispute at the home.
Stuart Utgaard, 66, had left the location following the incident. He was taken into custody in New Richmond a short time later, with the help of sheriff's deputies and New Richmond police officers.
Utgaard's story of financial success to financial ruin has played out for all to see in recent years. He and his wife, Kimberly, divorced in March. The Monday dispute apparently had something to do with the division of property related to the divorce.
Utgaard's rise to the top of the business world kicked into high gear in 1996 when the 1963 graduate of New Richmond High School bought his sporting and recreational goods store. The Sportsman’s Warehouse empire thus began.
Over 13 years, Utgaard led the company to more than $700 million in annual sales and 72 stores. His success made other major players in the industry, like Gander Mountain and Cabela’s, nervous.
“We were on track to reach $1 billion in sales by 2010,” Utgaard said in an earlier interview. “It was an unbridled success.”
The ride to the top didn’t go unnoticed. In 2004, Utgaard was named Entrepreneur of the Year by the accounting firm of Ernst & Young. The state of Utah recognized his company for its incredible revenue growth.
By 2006, the success story started to show some signs of stress. As the nation's economy turned sour, so did the fortunes of Sportsman's Warehouse. Credit began to tighten and Utgaard had difficulty keeping store inventory at acceptable levels.
Despite bringing on new investors, Utgaard couldn't save the company.
“It was like a drowning man grasping at straws,” he said previously. “You get stuck in the vortex and you get sucked down.”
Eventually an investor took over control of the remaining 29 Sportsman's Warehouse stores, and Utgaard was relieved of his duties.
The financial trouble didn't end there, however. Utgaard had personally guaranteed several business loans and his personal assets were targeted to help pay back creditors.
In the end, Utgaard estimated that his personal financial loss totaled about $10 million.
Utgaard eventually wrote a book about his rise and fall, titled “The Sportsman’s Warehouse Story.”
For a more complete story, see next week's New Richmond News.