978-0-87113-757-9 / 9780871137579

A Sportsman's Life: How I Built Orvis by Mixing Business and Sport


Publisher:Atlantic Monthly Pr



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About the book:

Imagine if you could live a life in which there were no boundaries between work and play, if you could blend the job you love - running a company that is committed to excellence - with the outdoor pastimes that are your greatest passion. This is the life that Leigh Perkins has lived, and it is A Sportsman's Life.

In 1965, when Leigh Perkins bought Orvis, the fly-fishing and bird-hunting sporting goods company, it was in serious trouble. Since its founding in 1856, the Manchester, Vermont-based company had pioneered mail-order catalogs and built a loyal following among outdoor enthusiasts, but its annual sales had stagnated at $500,000, and it was losing market share to Eddie Bauer, L. L. Bean, and others.

Over the next thirty years Perkins would revolutionize the catalog retail industry as he successfully blended his love for the outdoors with his business acumen. During his tenure as CEO, Orvis's annual sales grew to $200 million, and it became a company with a connection to its customers that transcended the products it sold. With a commitment to customer service, a willingness to adapt to new technology, and innovations in catalog sales and marketing, Perkins realized his vision for making the sporting life - and sporting style - accessible to everyone. Most important, he accomplished this while living the lifestyle he popularized, spending nearly half the year fishing and hunting around the world, from Iceland to Argentina to New Zealand.

Perkins begins his memoir with his fond memories of learning to hunt and fish alongside his mother and how his experiences working as an iron miner and sales manager for an international welding equipment manufacturer shaped his dedication to excellence. He takes you through his early years at Orvis, and the decisions he had to make along the way to change the company's parochial culture into one that embraced new initiates to the sporting life, and through its fantastic growth as catalog retail sales exploded in the eighties and nineties.

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