Whether you care about adventure sports, the fate of the natural world, or pure brand maintenance and business success, Patagonia, Inc. is one of the earth's most interesting and inspiring companies. For almost forty years, its reputation for unsurpassed high quality, maverick innovation, and long-term environmental responsibility has put it in a class by itself. And everything flows from Patagonia's founder, Yvon Chouinard.
Chouinard's creation myth is now an American business legend. As a child, he moved with his father, a French Canadian blacksmith, and the rest of his family to Southern California in the 1950s with little English and less money. He escaped into mountain climbing as a teenager and by his early twenties was among the best climbers in America, making famous first ascents of a number of notorious faces. When he decided he could make better climbing tools himself for less money and when his fellow climbers agreed and clamored for more, a way of life became a business. Some forty years later, Yvon Chouinard still summits peaks around the world (though he now spends more time surfing). Patagonia still makes exceptionally high-quality things, only it now earns more than $250 million a year from worldwide sales, and Chouinard is able to leverage his concern for the natural settings he's spent a lifetime enjoying. His resolve to minimize Patagonia's impact on the environment has led the company to make its famous fleeces out of recycled soda bottles and to donate at least 1 percent of its revenue each year to environmental causes, among many other things.
In Let My People Go Surfing, Yvon Chouinard relates his and his company's story and the core philosophies that have sustained Patagonia, Inc. year in and year out. This is not another story of a successful businessman who manages on the side to do great good and have grand adventures; it's the story of a man who brought doing good and having grand adventures into the heart of his business model--and who enjoyed even more business success as a result. Let My People Go Surfing gives ample evidence as to why there have been few more influential companies in American business in the last forty years than Patagonia, Inc.
The long-awaited memoir/manifesto from legendary climber, businessman, and environmentalist Yvon Chouinard, founder and owner of one of the world's most inspiring companies, Patagonia, Inc.
Chouinard, founder and owner of Patagonia Inc., presents his philosophy for a "new style of responsible business" along with a chronicle of his personal and company history in this sincere if self-congratulatory creed. A Californian of French-Canadian descent, Chouinard started forging climbing hardware and selling it out of his car in 1957 and published his first catalogue, a one-page mimeographed sheet, in 1964. Today, his sporting goods company has annual revenues of $230 million, but he nonetheless identifies himself as more of "a climber, a surfer, a kayaker, a skier and a blacksmith" than a CEO. In this vein, he lays out his alternative vision of business, detailing eco- and people-conscious philosophies on aspects of the supply chain from product design and production to human resources and management. Chouinard has backed up his rhetoric with action: Patagonia pursues sustainability, gives 1% of annual net sales to environmental groups and has set benchmarks with its employee-friendly policies. Patagoniacs and socially conscious businesspeople may appreciate this account despite its wooden writing, especially as an antidote to headlines of corporate fraud. (Oct.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.