Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 68

2010s

Peter Metcalf

Outdoor Retailer 35th Anniversary

I ask about his early business experience.
He breaks into a story about his early days
working for one of his key mentors, Yvon
Chouinard, founder of Patagonia. Metcalf
went to work for Chouinard in 1982 and
stayed with the company until the climbing department was dismantled in 1989. He
talks openly about both his admiration for-
and many disagreements with-his mentor.
Like his arms, his stories are ripped, not with
muscle but details. It's clear he values details.
During one story, he pauses and asks politely,
"Am I laying on the details too thick?"
No, I assure him.
Metcalf takes a sip of sparkling water, squeezes a lime into it, and continues. He focuses less
on the clashes and different personalities than
on the lessons learned. He has a lot of stories,
and they link up like climbers linking pitches
on a rock face.
The biggest lesson he learned from
Chouinard?
"It's easy-and dangerous-to believe the
golden years of any pursuit are over. You see,
Yvon thought climbing was over. And for him,
I guess it was. He was getting into surfing. And
the lawsuits were, in fact, smothering the sport
of climbing," he says. "But the way I saw it was
different. Yes, climbing was changing. But I believed that climbing in America was only getting started. The gear was getting better. I believed that the lawsuits would work themselves
out. Adventure would win out."
And so, in 1989, with Chouinard Equipment
in bankruptcy, a result of several high-profile
personal-injury lawsuits against the company
for equipment failure, Metcalf launched his
biggest adventure to date: taking over the remains of Patagonia's climbing division, reinventing it as a new company, Black Diamond,
and then moving this new company from
Ventura, California, to Salt Lake City. The reason for the move: "It was silly to run a climbing
company in Ventura, California," Metcalf says.
"We needed a new location where our employees could do their work and live adventurous
lives. The Wasatch mountains and Salt Lake
City seemed perfect to me."
Metcalf pauses and takes another sip of the
sparkling water.
"It was crazy," he recalls. "And it was perfect.
We moved here, set up our shop in a warehouse,
and in just a few months, we were off to the

68 OUTDOOR RETAILER

/ 35th Anniversary 2017

races. It was an adventure."
From the start, Metcalf kept his eye on the
details and on the horizon at the same time. He
saw that he wanted to do good and do well. He
was aware that he was creating a movement
and a business. He was selling hard goods to
real customers. And, he knew that the business
he'd chosen was special. It required him to be
a leader of a political movement as well as the
leader of a business.
It wasn't enough to just sell climbing equipment. He knew he would also have to serve as a
protector of the adventurous lifestyle and wild
places. His business couldn't exist without wild
lands. His customers couldn't have their adven-

"In the face of the
current political
climate of extremism, I want to make
sure others get the
chance to live adventurously, as I have."
tures without access to mountain crags. Yes, he
wanted to make money. And the only way he
could do that was by being an advocate. This
led to a multitude of decisions that run counter to traditional business sense.
"The reason I do this is because I've always done this," he says. "From the first day
I opened Black Diamond, I made my business about more than business. I've always
promoted a familial culture within my company. I foster a flat, egalitarian, open, collaborative culture. At first, we didn't even have
a mission statement. What we did have was
a clear intent. In climbing, they say that the
style in which you climb is as important as the
results. This is also true in business."
One early decision was to not seek funding
from investment banks.
"I knew I would have to give up control."
In fact, he did get asked by one potential
source of funding, "Are you running a forprofit business or a movement?"
His answer: "Yes, both."

METCALF'S PHONE DINGS. A TEXT. HE LOOKS
down and taps on the keys and then hits send
with a flourish. He is swamped in texts and
emails these days. A few are related to his business, but most involve his stewardship of the
outdoor industry and public lands issues. In
January, as the new president came into power, emboldening politicians in Utah to make
threats about revoking the protected status of
Utah's many public lands, Metcalf advocated
that the Outdoor Retailer trade show pull out
of Utah. It was a bold thing to suggest. But he
didn't think it was rash.
"I understand the power of the dollar. I know
how to talk to these politicians in their language. They know that we have serious clout.
I speak the Almighty Dollar as well as they do,"
Metcalf says.
And this fact is a very good thing for
Americans who care about adventure and public lands. Not only does Metcalf have passion
and intelligence when it comes to these issues.
He has the language and the clout. And in these
difficult times, for many people in the outdoor
industry, these facts are beyond comforting.
"I think we have all seen that we cannot sit
back and hope that the natural masterpieces
found almost anywhere in the world will be protected long term," says Tompkins, who as the
head of Tompkins Conservation just donated
one million acres of land for new national parks
in Chile and (with her now-deceased husband
The North Face founder Doug Tompkins) protected 2.5 million acres in seven national parks
and several other reserves in South America. "At
the moment we are witnessing the systematic
unwinding of environmental regulations that
are 'impeding' development-who will stand
up against this onslaught? Though critical, it is
not enough that we as individuals take a stand
in the fight over the future of public lands, Bears
Ears, marine protected areas, and the long list
of other attacks on our territory. Companies,
too, must speak out. Peter is the kind of person
who will go the distance." O.R.
Brad Wetzler has written for The New York
Times Magazine, GQ, Newsweek, Wired,
Men's Journal, Travel + Leisure, Outside,
where he was a senior editor, and other publications. His writing has been anthologized
in the Best American Travel Writing series
and Outside 25: Classic Tales.



Outdoor Retailer - July 2017

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Outdoor Retailer - July 2017

OUTDOOR RETAILER - JULY 2017
CONTENTS
CONTRIBUTORS
FIRST WORDS
THE TRIBE
GREG THOMSEN
YVON CHOUINARD AND GERRY LOPEZ
STEVE BARKER
THE SCENE
JEFF LOWE
PETER AND PATTY DUKE
BEAVER THEODOSAKIS
CARSON STANWOOD
CHAD GALLWITZ
JOHN MEAD
THE TORNADO
THE SCENE
SALLY MCCOY
JOHN STERLING
CASEY SHEAHAN
THE SCENE
MUSIC AND MEMORIES
PETER METCALF
SALLY JEWELL
CONRAD ANKER
JEN TAYLOR
DAN NORDSTROM
JEREMY COLLINS
JOANNA HOSHIMOTO
THE FUTURE
THE BACKSTORY
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - OUTDOOR RETAILER - JULY 2017
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - Cover2
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 1
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - CONTENTS
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 3
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - CONTRIBUTORS
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 5
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - FIRST WORDS
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 7
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - THE TRIBE
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 9
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 10
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 11
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - GREG THOMSEN
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 13
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 14
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 15
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - YVON CHOUINARD AND GERRY LOPEZ
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 17
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 18
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 19
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - STEVE BARKER
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 21
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 22
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 23
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - THE SCENE
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 25
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 26
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 27
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - JEFF LOWE
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 29
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - PETER AND PATTY DUKE
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 31
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - BEAVER THEODOSAKIS
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 33
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - CARSON STANWOOD
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 35
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - CHAD GALLWITZ
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 37
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - JOHN MEAD
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 39
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - THE TORNADO
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 41
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 42
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - THE SCENE
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 44
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 45
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 46
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 47
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - SALLY MCCOY
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 49
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 50
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 51
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - JOHN STERLING
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 53
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - CASEY SHEAHAN
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 55
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - THE SCENE
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 57
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 58
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 59
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - MUSIC AND MEMORIES
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 61
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 62
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 63
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 64
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 65
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - PETER METCALF
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 67
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 68
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - SALLY JEWELL
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - CONRAD ANKER
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 71
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - JEN TAYLOR
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - DAN NORDSTROM
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - JEREMY COLLINS
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - JOANNA HOSHIMOTO
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - THE FUTURE
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 77
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 78
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 79
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - THE BACKSTORY
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - Cover3
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - Cover4
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