Patagonia, Inc. founder and president Chouinard traces his evolution from single-minded rock-climber to international business owner, sharing the philosophies that have guided his company’s growth and operations.
Get this straight: The author is no latter-day, tree-hugging yuppie. He’s an old-fashioned outdoorsman, with toughness bred in the bone. Proof: The author’s father, who makes a walk-on appearance in the very beginning of the book, is a French-Canadian carpenter who pulled his own teeth rather than pay a dentist. Young Yvon never liked school, preferring to surf and climb mountains, so after a couple of years of community college and a short stint in the army, he started supporting himself—barely—by selling the climbing gear he'd begun creating some years earlier. From these bare-bones beginnings, the Patagonia empire was born; today, it's an outdoor-gear and -clothing company that makes hundreds of millions of dollars a year in worldwide sales. Chouinard discusses the challenges of growing such a business and running an environmentally conscious firm (the only kind he could ever bear to run), devoting the lion's share of the book to a discussion of Patagonia's many company guidelines. More a set of practical considerations than a set of motivational mantras, Chouinard’s philosophies are tailored for every department, from product designers to human resources. The author cheerfully admits that he still spends much of the year off site, camping, climbing and surfing, and he encourages his employees to do the same—as long as their work gets done. The author isn't living in a utopia—he shakes his head at the number of environmentally unfriendly SUVs in Patagonia's parking lot—but he does seem committed to making the effort.
An appealingly practical guide to encourage capitalism and ethics to play nice together.