097: Larry Harrison- Sage advice for each of us in the Outdoor Biz

April 26, 2018

Larry tells us how he got started in the biz, his experiences with JanSport, Wilderness Experience, Outdoor Retailer, has some sage advice for each of us, and much much more.

Show Notes

First Exposure to the Outdoors

I figured the best Answer to that is . . . I was a twin and we were born wild dogs in a little Illinois town. On one side of our house was a big park and then behind it was forest. And then after the forest there was a canal. Did we ever have a playground. Then on the other side of the canal was all farmland. And this was for my first nine years. Up the street was the largest hill in rock falls and sterling, we called it death hill. My twin brother and our friends, we just terrorized that area climbing trees, diving into water, probably going down the steep embankments was just part of the way we grew up. It so long ago that I probably shouldn't even tell you the date, but it was 1959.

Now we should all be proud of our age. Never shirk the duty of representing your age because there's always somebody younger than you that wonders what it's like to be that age because they need something to model themselves after. I always copied the people who were older than me.

Then we moved to California and I thought, did I ever score when we moved to San Diego. I told my mother after seeing some kids surfing that I want to surf and she said, no way, you hardly know how to swim. And so I had to swim back and  forth, three times at De Anza Cove. It's a long way back and forth, back and forth, back. And by the end of the summer I'd done that and I was able  to take up surfing and like most of my great endeavors in a sport I never really became great. But I really had a great time. I really enjoyed myself.

Things we talked about

The Mountain People (Eagle Creek)- Steve and Nona Barker, Ricky Schlesinger

Coming Attractions (Sport Science)- Neal Caplowe, Ricky Schlesinger

Wilderness Experience- Jim and Greg Thomsen

JanSport- Skip Yowell, Todd Spaletto, Chris Speak, Paul DeLorey

Uncle Dan's- Colin Moynihan

Advice, tips

Well, I think it was Mark Twain that said  “you need two things, ignorance and confidence” you know? I think that a belief in yourself. We went out in the outdoors as youth and I guess that it instilled some confidence that the outdoors was my playground and then I went into the outdoor business. Well, I had the Outdoor part of it done, you know? I had to learn business, but I found words fun so communication is so critical, but confidence, that's really important. And I think that when I started in this business, we were a bunch of men and scratchy plaid shirts and now do we have the diversity that we want to have? Absolutely not, right? are we making progress? Yes, we're making progress, but we're making its slowly. It'd be great to see it happen more quickly. How do we do that? Personal responsibility? How many people have you taken out, how many people of color, how many women, et cetera, you know, if you want this person to be in the outdoors, give them the experience first. The sooner, the better in someone's life. So my view of the next three to five years is that if we take responsibility for our store being more exciting, if we take responsibility as reps for getting the work done more effectively for our retailers so they can concentrate on their store we will be doing them a favor. If as a manufacturer, we think about how our products can be the most unique they can be, instead of just trying to put products in every price point, we will be better manufacturers, bring something new. Not just a new price point. And then as people, if we all bring someone into the outdoors, I've always felt that as a seller of products, as a manufacturer of products, as a retailer of product, we are creating a voter. A voter that works to maintain the beauty of wildlands, we're creating a constituency. That's what I would like to see. The next three to five years being where every single segment of our business looks to improve what they're doing today and take personal accountability for getting more people out there.

Favorite Books

Tracy Ross

The Long Haul by Finn Murphy

Dispatches from Pluto, Lost and Found in the Mississippi Delta by Richard Grant

The Broom of God by John Bragg

Stories from the Dirt by John Long

The Home Distiller's Workbook – Your guide to making Moonshine, Whisky, Vodka, Rum and so much more! by Jeff King

Best Gear Purchase under $100

GSI Santoku Knife Set

Connect with Larry 



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