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Let My People Go Surfing

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Yvon Chouinard is the founder and owner of Patagonia, Inc., based in Ventura, California. He began in business by designing, manufacturing, and distributing rock climbing equipment in the late 1950s. His tinkering led to an improved ice ax that is the basis for modern ice ax design. In 1964 he produced his first mail-order catalog, a one-page mimeographed sheet containing advice not to expect fast delivery during climbing season. In 2001, along with Craig Mathews, owner of West Yellowstone's Blue Ribbon Flies, he started One Percent for the Planet, an alliance of businesses that contribute at least 1 percent of their net annual sales to groups on a list of researched and approved environmental organizations."


Chouinard, founder/owner of Patagonia, Inc., mixes a bit of memoir with a lot more on his passionate philosophies about running a business in this engrossing story of his unique company. Although at first reluctant to enter the role of CEO of a growing company, Chouinard soon realized that he could blend business success with his values. His nicely explained core philosophies are defined in his unusual approach to product design and production, his savvy distribution plan, his financial and human resource management principles, his laid-back management style, and the strong environmental sensitivity of his company. From Chouinard's early ice-ax design, which continues to be the tool of choice for today's ice climbers, to his use of cutting-edge material in highly specialized sportswear, his company continues to excel in producing high-quality items at a relatively expensive price, thus confounding the Wal-Marts of the world. Readers will appreciate Chouinard's insights into what makes his special business tick and his unwavering commitment to his environmental principles. This title nicely counterbalances the classic slash-and-burn approach to business success found in Sumner Redstone's A Passion To Win and Jack Welch's Winning. Highly recommended for larger public libraries and for university libraries supporting business curricula.-Dale Farris, Groves, TX Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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.

No matter what you do, you will find essential guidance and inspiration in Let My People Go Surfing. (Dave Foreman, The Rewilding Institute)
Wonderful... a moving autobiography, the story of a unique business, and a detailed blueprint for hope. (Jared Diamond, author of Collapse)

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