It’s not always the bottom line.

” We recognize that our profits are directly tied to the quality of our work and our product.”
– Yvon Chouinard-
Founder and Owner
Patagonia Inc.

How many of us can say we have been a loyal customer to a brand for over 40 years? If you look at this picture, you will see an Instagram photo that I sent to Patagonia when they asked for pictures of folks who had vintage clothing produced by Patagonia back in the day. They liked this photo and put it on their Instagram feed one day. I was proud to say that I still have that original Patagonia pile pullover and wear it to this day. It is a testament to what Yvon Chouinard says above. screenshot_2016-07-03-21-05-59-5

I have a lot of Patagonia gear that I have purchased over the years and have recently purchased a new shell for this year. img_1125 However, in accordance with the Iron Clad Guarantee by the company, I have sent pieces of clothing back for repair and they have been returned to me free of charge and in excellent shape. You see, Patagonia doesn’t necessarily encourage us to throw away items that can be repaired because part of their mission statement is a strong respect for the environment. They would rather repair an item of clothing than sell a new one because the bottom line is not the be all and end all of the company ethos. Check out their “Worn Well” section on their website.

If you take the time to read Chouinard’s book ” Let my people go surfing. the education of a reluctant businessman” you will find a fascinating story of a guy who had a very meager upbringing in Quebec, a “dirtbag” lifestyle as a climber in Yosemite ( dirtbag being a proud moniker for climbers), and finally an extremely successful business man whose main goal is the quality of his work and the welfare of his workforce. yvon

The impressive thing to me about Chouinard is that he really means what he says. He is committed to the environment. The paper that they use for their catalogs is recycled. Their T-Shirts are made from organically grown cotton. The first Synchilla jackets were first made using fiber from recycled soda pop bottles. As a company they petitioned the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on decommissioning dams in the Pacific Northwest to once again allow salmon to spawn upstream. Finally, he and his wife Malinda have purchased huge acres of property in Patagonia in South America and have created a natural preserve there that is unique. In short, Yvon is totally committed.

Patagonia has a day care center for its employees that has been given numerous California state and national awards. Their ” Let my people go surfing” policy allows employees to take advantage of powder days for skiing,and time off to hit the break for surfing near their Ventura, California headquarters. Casual attire is always encouraged and employees can bring pets to work if they so choose. The understanding is that if the work gets done, why not take advantage of outdoor opportunities as they arise. img_1124 Culture is extremely important to Patagonia and its founder Chouinard who is lovingly referred to as COO. Chief Out of Office. Chouinard says,” This flexibility allows us to keep valuable employees who love their freedom and sports too much to settle for the constraints of a more regimented work environment.”

Many companies today have finance and profit as the “tail that wags the dog.” Patagonia has always been reluctant to cut costs, skimp on quality, or lay off employees all to meet the bottom line. From the founder on down, their philosophy of quality first has allowed them to be a wildly profitable company without profit being the main driver.

So, I have always liked the quality that Patagonia produces and that is why I have been a loyal customer for over 40 years. When I read Chouinard’s book, I became even more of a dedicated customer and proponent for the mission statement of Patagonia. Whether you are an outdoors type or not, this book has value in describing what is not a traditional business model. Pick it up and read about a fascinating blacksmith who created one of the most iconic brand names that we have in outdoor apparel today. Thanks for reading.

Photo of Pat at Tuckerman Ravine- courtesy of Eric Durfee.


Jump on the Sustainability Train

photo Sustainability is a big buzz word today. In common vernacular we hear words like “green”, “environmentally conscious”, “carbon footprint” and “global warming.” We all have a responsibility to take care of our world and pass on a better world for our children, grandchildren, and generations to come. My company is taking sustainability very seriously by corporate and warehouse recycling programs, utilizing intermodal transportation where tractor trailers are taken off the road and loaded on to flatbed rail cars, reducing carbon emissions,and saving on tire wear, and engine repair. It is a less expensive form of transportation as well. Companies, people, countries are all now conscious of our use of natural resources and the paths we trod on our planet.

Please take a look at the video on the following link: This short film shows how folks utilize good clothing, repair it, and keep it often to be passed on to the next generation. Patagonia is a very progressive company founded by the well known climber Yvon Chouinard. Chouinard started the company as a hardgoods concern manufacturing pitons, ice axes, and other climbing equipment. When he ventured into the soft goods arena, he was bound and determined to make it the best quality and be socially responsible as well. If you look at my picture above, you will see the original Patagonia pile pullover that I am wearing on the top of Mt. Washington in New Hampshire. This picture is from the late 70s and I still wear this pullover today. I still have my Vasque HikerIIs(hiking boots) from 40 years ago. My wool sport coats are from my college days and my wife finally threw out a pair of duct taped Docksiders from high school. I was bummed. Without really trying, I ventured into sustainability because wearing this stuff prevented the use of natural resources to make new clothing and boots which I really don’t need. Now my gas guzzling Jeep is setting back my credits and I do replace skis, bikes, parts,and ski boots, when necessary. But along with my contentment with clothing, I do try to do my little part to save the planet when I can.

Sustainability is really an active way of portraying the spirit of Thanksgiving. We really have a lot to be thankful for and among our blessings is our planet and our natural resources. We each can take a part in the sustainability movement by looking at what we really need and what we really don’t need. We can recycle responsibly and in our own little way, we can contribute. We may not be able to make a large impact like Yvon Chouinard and Patagonia, but maybe by looking at our lifestyles and what we can do like what is shown in the film, we can help save our world, little by little. I love Thanksgiving. I am thankful for my wife, my son, my health and the ability that God gave me to enjoy life. I love being outdoors and enjoying our world. Personally, I am glad that there is awareness that we must protect the planet. In many ways, it brings us all together even though we may have differences. Go hug a tree will ya? Thanks for reading and watch that flick!!!