One of America's Foremost Conservation Leaders
In conservation circles Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris is often referred to as a modern-day Teddy Roosevelt for his leadership, personal commitment and dedication to conservation efforts.
A conservationist at heart, Johnny Morris recognized the need for citizens to take a strong position in the careful management and use of our natural resources. Using his entrepreneurial success as a platform for that cause, he has contributed heavily both in time and resources to many significant conservation organizations and initiatives.
Bass Pro Shops was founded in 1972 by avid young angler Johnny Morris on eight-square-feet of space in the back of his father's liquor store in Springfield, Missouri. Today, the leading national retailer of outdoor gear and apparel has more than 100 retail and marine center locations across North America.
Johnny's passion for the outdoors and his feel for the products and shopping experiences desired by outdoor enthusiasts transformed the industry. Bass Pro Shops locations are more than just stores — they are true destination experiences that draw more than 120 million visitors annually. Each location is heavily customized to reflect the character of the region. In addition to giant aquariums teeming with live fish and extensive wildlife mounts and dioramas, many locations feature unique restaurants and ocean-themed bowling alleys.
Johnny (John L) Morris, founder and CEO of Bass Pro Shops, got his start in 1972 by selling fishing tackle out of the back of his father's store. Since then, Johnny has earned a reputation as one of the most visionary and influential retailers of the last 50 years. Today he is known as a retail and travel destination pioneer.
A young Johnny Morris with father John A, mother Genny and Uncle Charles fishing in the Ozarks at the "pot hole" below the Power Site Dam on the famous White River.
Today he is one of the country's leaders working to ensure natural habitats, wildlife and the outdoors remain healthy and abundant for future generations to protect and enjoy, having established a significant personal legacy that spans national initiatives and extensive partnerships supporting conservation organizations.
Johnny's values were strongly shaped by his parents. Both were born in 1911 to very humble beginnings in the heart of the Ozarks in Willard, Missouri. His mother Genny was one of ten children growing up in a two-bedroom house. His father John A. Morris grew up poor and was raised primarily by his Great Aunt. A decorated World War II veteran, he proudly served his country and participated in the Battle of the Bulge. Afterward he returned home to Missouri and became a successful merchant in the Springfield area.
Johnny's parents both loved to hunt and fish and soon shared their passions with their son. From an early age, Johnny understood how fishing and hunting fostered a special respect and appreciation for nature and wildlife
At age 21, Johnny fell in love with the emerging sport of bass fishing and spent five years on the professional circuit. After noticing growing interest in the sport, Johnny started Bass Pro Shops with eight square feet of space in the back of his father's liquor store in Springfield, Mo., the company's sole location for the first 13 years of business. Johnny's passion for the outdoors and his feel for the products and shopping experiences desired by outdoor enthusiasts helped transform the industry.
Johnny with his father and mentor John A. Morris
Legendary pro anglers Bill Dance, Johnny Morris and team at the original Bass Pro Shops grand opening.
A Business Visionary
Retail: Bass Pro Shops
Johnny pioneered the concept of destination retail and created an outdoor gear enterprise that is one of the most beloved and well-recognized brands in North America. Today, Bass Pro Shops has more than 100 retail stores and marine centers across North America and 20,000 associates welcome more than 120 million visitors annually.
Manufacturing: White River Marine Group
In 1978, Johnny Morris revolutionized the marine industry when he introduced Bass Tracker, the world's first "fish ready" professionally rigged and nationally marketed boat, motor and trailer package. For the first time, fishermen could buy quality fishing boats "factory direct" at tremendous savings, allowing thousands of families to access the water for the first time. The development allowed Tracker to compete aggressively against larger, more established brands. For nearly 40 years running, Tracker has remained the number one selling fishing boat brand in America. In 2010, Tracker Marine Group surpassed Brunswick to become the leading boat manufacturer in the world.
In a world increasinglIn a world increasingly disconnected from the great outdoors, it's more important than ever for people of all ages to connect with nature through fishing, hunting and outdoor recreation to ensure we can protect wildlife for generations to come. disconnected from the great outdoors, it's more important than ever for people of all ages to connect with nature through fishing, hunting and outdoor recreation to ensure we can protect wildlife for generations to come.