A SPORTSMAN'S LIFE by Leigh Perkins


How I Built Orvis by Mixing Business and Sport
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Perkins, former CEO of Orvis, has never had a bad day fly fishing or bird hunting, nor many selling the sports and their accouterments to the public, as reported in this memoir written with sporting journalist and Forbes FYI contributor Norman. Perkins was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, but his father encouraged him to go into business: “He knew only a few men who did not work and were happy and that they were inevitably men of very high intelligence—He added that he didn’t think I qualified.” Perkins keeps this self-effacing tone brewing throughout the book, giving credit to his co-workers and his customers and his own native wits to turn Orvis into the grand sporting emporium it became under his near 30-year stewardship. Equal emphasis is placed on Perkins’s business philosophy and his days afield. In a twangy voice, he’ll drop his nuggets of business wisdom, most of which possess a Dale Carnegie common sense: love your work, be serious, innovate and stay ahead of the curve, listen to the customer, don’t be governed by a cash push but rather by the pull of an idea. These points, and the various tactical moves he made situating Orvis to capitalize on the fly-fishing boom of the 1980s, are invariably nestled in well-paced stories of hunting red-legged partridge in Spain, rough shooting in northern Scotland, going after salmon in Norway’s Alma River, trout in the chalk streams of England, and tarpon off Belize. And always he’s out there putting the Orvis equipment through its paces: “I tested that rod on the Malleo River in Argentina in late March when the red stags were bugling in the hills and the geese were gathering to migrate.” Hunters and fishers will weep with envy at Perkins’s life, and those who don’t may well be tempted to try them as he writes of these pursuits with humility and genuine relish. (photos, not seen) (First printing of 75,000; $100,000 ad/promo; author tour)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-87113-757-7
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1999


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