Patagonia Business Analysis

Patagonia is outdoor equipment and clothing company that began as a group of climbers and surfers who were trying to find a better way to do what they love. They began by creating climbing equipment but they quickly became set apart from their competition by their overwhelming concern for the environment. Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis (Patagonia). This is their mission as a company and is what has set them apart by leading the green movement in the business world.

“Patagonia grew out of a small company that made tools for climbers. Alpinism remains at the heart of a worldwide business that still makes clothes for climbing – as well as for skiing, snowboarding, surfing, fly fishing, paddling and trail running. These are all silent sports. None requires a motor; none delivers the cheers of a crowd. In each sport, reward comes in the form of hard-won grace and moments of connection between us and nature. Our values reflect those of a business started by a band of climbers and surfers, and the minimalist style they promoted. The approach we take towards product design demonstrates a bias for simplicity and utility. For us at Patagonia, a love of wild and beautiful places demands participation in the fight to save them, and to help reverse the steep decline in the overall environmental health of our planet. We donate our time, services and at least 1% of our sales to hundreds of grassroots environmental groups all over the world who work to help reverse the tide. We know that our business activity – from lighting stores to dyeing shirts – creates pollution as a by-product. So we work steadily to reduce those harms. We use recycled polyester in many of our clothes and only organic, rather than pesticide-intensive, cotton. Staying true to our core values during thirty-plus years in business has helped us create a company we’re proud to run and work for. And our focus on making the best products possible has brought us success in the marketplace” (Patagonia). It is apparent that they do things different than the traditional organization but that is what makes them such a successful company.

Patagonia’s strategy is based on the philosophy of “Let my People Go Surfing”. They have created a work environment of self management that allows employees to work when and how they please as long as they get their work done. At Patagonia’s office in Ventura, California there is no dress code or shift work. There is an on site day care and the owner, Yvon Chouinard, has the same desk as all the rest of the employees. Their strategy is to create a work environment that their employees enjoy being a part of and they have found that it works very well. Their pay structure is relatively flat and wages are lower than the industry average but their turnover rate is only 4.5 percent. Their strategy of a family workplace and an environment that is conducive to the products that they promote is an innovative idea that has led them to the top of the industry.

According to the O*NET summary of the job, the task section consist of many different aspects. The tasks section can be summarized by several major groups. The first task would be to establish and maintain relationships with other agencies and organization. They also must manage activities of professionals and technical staff member as well as volunteers. Also with this job comes the task of research in order to stay up to date on the environmental movement. Finally there are many public speaking tasks involved with this job, both internally and externally.

The knowledge required for this job is more than just traditional education. It is required to have an understanding of the English language as well as the ability to research new topics and then educate them to others. One of the most important requirements of this job deals with psychology and being able to understand and interact with other people. You will need to educate others as well interact with many organization leaders both corporate and social. The final knowledge needed for this job is the ability to manage people, both individually and in a group setting.

The skills and abilities needed for this position consist mostly of listening and speaking skills. The environmental campaign is an ever changing field and it is very important to be able to listen to these environmental groups and then have the ability to relate the information back to the organization. Other required skills consist of time management skills, social skills, monitoring, and critical thinking.

The specific work activities for this job consist of: establishing and maintaining interpersonal relationships, making decisions and solving problems, communication with supervisors, working directly with public, organizing and planning work, thinking creatively, and negotiating with others.

The Alabama summary of the job is to plan, organize, or coordinate the activities of a social service program or community outreach organization. Oversee the program or organization’s budget and policies regarding participant involvement, program requirements, and benefits. Work may involve directing social workers, counselors, or probation officers. The major difference between the Alabama summary and the national summary of the job is that in Alabama the job is mostly based on social work as apposed to environmental work. This summary consists of creating activities for community outreach organizations as apposed to working with the environmental campaign. The Environmental Grants Manager for Patagonia works mostly with people, but the purpose is focused on the environment rather than community outreach. The pay in Alabama is ranked 35 in terms of this job nationally and pays significantly lower wages than the national average.

The position in which I am the most interested within Patagonia is the Environment Grants Manager. The Environmental Grants Manager is responsible for the management, marketing (internally and externally) and successful implementation of the Company’s environmental grants program. They coordinates all aspects of the US grants program, including: grant giving, creation of annual Environmental Initiatives Booklet, and implementation of non-cash services, such as the Tools for Grassroots Activist Conference and the employee environmental internship program. They will assist the Director of Environmental Programs with the development and implementation of corporate environmental campaigns and programs, environmental advertising, and public affairs related to the Company’s environmental efforts. (Patagonia) The specific functions of the job consist of: managing and developing the structure of the company’s environmental grants program, strategy and mission, performing environmental research, educating the company’s customers on the grants program, managing and developing the employees understanding of environmental campaigns, and networking with other foundations and corporate grant workers. The knowledge, skills, and abilities for the job consist of: a degree in environmental studies, minimum of six years experience in the environmental movement, leadership experience as a project manager, extensive public speaking and public relation skills, excellent writing skills, and proficiency in Microsoft word, excel, and access (Patagonia). The former EGM, Jessica Clayton, is the person who I had the opportunity of interviewing. Although there are many specific job task for this job, the actually work that they do is very interesting. Patagonia co founded 1% For the Planet, which is the program the this position is responsible for. This is how Patagonia gives back to the earth by donating 1% of sales to small environmental campaigns (Chouinard). Jessica’s job was to travel around meeting different representatives for these environmental groups and seeking the best way that Patagonia could help. She acted as the liaison for the company and chose which organization they could best serve. Her other major responsible was to educate the organization on the current environmental issues and research the best ways to help. Patagonia is different than any other company in the industry because not only to they give to these organizations they seek to educate and find innovative ways to cure these problems. As the Environmental Grants Manager I would have the opportunity to meet people all over the world and work as one in order to help save our world.
There are several supervisors for the EGM position but the person is really responsible for the environmental work at Patagonia is Rick Ridgeway. He has been with Patagonia for over 30 years and has been leading the environmental group for quite some time. As a supervisor of the environmental campaign he oversees all the operations but is still very active in the actual campaign. The unique thing about Patagonia, is the way the organization is set up. If you were to walk into their headquarters in California, upon first sight you would be able to tell the difference between the CEO and the mail man. This is how they have designed their organization to have a family feel and encourage everyone to work together to accomplish their overall goal. So in terms of performance appraisal and evaluation, everything is very informal and all employees are evaluated by their performance on a daily basis (Chouinard). Because Patagonia is a private company, I couldn’t find out any information about the pay structure, but I don’t know that they are paid below the industry average and have a very flat organization.

Patagonia was founded in Ventura California and has been located there for over 30 years. The average pay this position in the state of California is $56,500 compared to Alabama is $44,500. I think the biggest reason for the difference in pay between the two states is based the job description. The state of Alabama is a little behind on their environmental campaign so this job is based more on people with in the community and is considered social. Due to this change in the jobs throughout the states, the pay is quite flexible.

The development plan is based on training and mentoring its employees to live the Patagonia lifestyle. In his book, Let my People Go Surfing, Patagonia’s founder admits, “We are still not doing a good enough job of training and mentoring” (Chouinard). He says this because there are still people driving SUV’s to work everyday so they are lacking some aspects of a sustainable life. Patagonia is a decentralized organization, with Chouinard’s involvement in day-to-day managing delegated to others. Employees appear to have considerable autonomy under a system of “management by absence,” reflecting his trust in employees. Nonetheless, he admits to having a deep personal attachment to the firm (Kinnear). This exemplifies Patagonia’s development plan of one that is not only training the employee for the job, but training the individual for life. “To live well is to work well, or display a good activity” (Chouinard). This is the foundation of the development plan and is what they seek to development in all of their employees. This is what sets Patagonia apart from all the other companies in the industry and is what has made them the company that they are today.

Presentation Notes

Imagine working for a place where there is no dress code, shift work, or required number of work hours a week. A place where the founder and CEO speaks with you everyday as he walks to his desk after a great morning surf. A place that not only trains you for the job that you are doing, but equips you to live a sustainable life with unity with our environment. Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis. This is the mission statement of Patagonia, and is the reason that they are at the top of their industry.

Background information – tell about pitons which made them the company they are today and how the started the green movement

Business Strategy
Left my people go surfing
Self management with daily performance monitoring
Flat organization (yvon sits in the same desk as everyone else)
Pay is below industry average, but only 4.5% turnover
Development Plan
Laid back
Evaluate performance on a daily basis
Build relationships and work together
Environmental Grants Manager
1% for the planet
Liason with org and environmental groups
Educates employees on environmental issues
Pay : 55000 california, 44000 in Alabama, different jobs make for different pay
“To live well is to work well, or display a good activity”
Chouinard, Yvon. Let My People Go Surfing. Penguin Group; 2005.
Kinnear, Terry. WCU Book Review; April 15, 2008.