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

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


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In A Sportsman's Life, Leigh Perkins tells a vivid and passionate story about how he turned Orvis into one of the country's most noted fly-fishing and sporting companies. A pioneer in the mail-order business, Perkins boosted sales of the Manchester, Vermont, company from $500,000 annually to nearly $200 million. Perkins believes he succeeded by building a superior product and selling "a lifestyle" in his catalogs--an appreciation of fishing, bird hunting, and country living. "We found not just a niche but an identity," he writes. "It was an exciting place to work." Perkins said he was never afraid of trying something new. Long before the concept became standard, for example, he traded mailing lists with competitors. He also grew Orvis by launching fishing and hunting schools, expanding into women's clothing, involving customers through an Orvis newsletter, offering odd items like bean bags for dogs, and turning out high-quality fly rods and reels. Perkins, who recently retired, lived the life he sold. Orvis united his love of sales with his love of the outdoors. The book is packed with gripping adventure tales about fly fishing for bonefish off the Florida Keys, hiking the backcountry of New Zealand, Argentina, and Mexico, encountering bear in Alaska and tiger in India, and once almost getting poisoned to death in Africa. He even includes chapters on his favorite bird-hunting dogs and his efforts to protect open space. Written with Geoffrey Norman, the book should appeal to both business and outdoors types. --Dan Ring

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Fly rods, shotguns, gun dogs and an outdoor life

The title of this book pretty much tells it all. You may not have heard of Leigh Perkins, but any of us who have ever cast a fly, called a retriever to heel, or put our cheek to the stock of a fine 12 ga. double know about Orvis. This is the story of a man, Perkins, and the creation of that high minded sporting goods business whose ways smack of the trout streams of Ireland and the gun rooms of London. Frankly, to me as a westerner, it is a story of Back East and hunting and fishing that still wears a necktie and breeches. Yet it is an admirable story of a man made of good stuff and solid principles who combined his outdoor savvy with business smarts and pretty much did it like Frank Sinatra -- his way. If you are an Outdoor Sportsman, his way may not be your way, even though his book makes enjoyable reading. And Orvis may not reflect the outdoor life as you know it. In my own book Postcards. Little Letters From Life there's a chapter titled "Open Season." It asks,"What's your sign, Orvis or Cabela's?" And goes on to detail some of the differences between those of us who pursue the sporting life.

Edition Details

Publisher:The Lyons Press
Lowest Price:$4.37
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