Orvis is a large privately held company headquartered in Manchester, Vermont. As you probably know their core DNA is fly fishing. And, the company has always been very generous by supporting fisheries protection, watershed and water quality improvement and native fish restoration. Orvis always has a list of large and important environmental concerns that they get behind, draw attention with their huge marketing machine and give money to support the cause. If you asked me before we became a dealer years ago what Orvis meant to me, I would probably have said “conservation”. Of course I owned a lot of their tackle too. And I still do.
We became an Orvis dealer years ago. I think we have worked together 10 years. Our relationship has always been excellent mainly because we like the people at Orvis. They must like us too, in 2004 Orvis named Little River Outfitters as their “Dealer of the Year”. Paula and I flew to Manchester, Vermont to receive the award at a large dealer meeting. That was a very proud moment for us. We still have that hand painted plaque hanging above our check out counter where it will be forever.
Orvis was one of the largest contributors to Troutfest in many ways. First, Kris Maurer who is the Fishing Manager at Orvis Sevierville played a key role as a member of the steering committee. He did an outstanding job.
Second, Blackberry Farm which is an Orvis Endorsed Lodge donated a package of fishing on the farm and lodging at Dancing Bear, one of their partner lodges and at auction that brought $750.
Orvis Manchester, on the corporate level stepped up in a huge way. And they are known for that. Orvis as a company has always donated money to fisheries projects in the United States but they have been especially good to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Last year for instance they donated $5,000 to Friends of the Smokies with the money being earmarked to brook trout restoration.
When it came time to ask Orvis to be a corporate sponsor I contacted Bill Reed who is the National Sales Manager. My call to him was at a bad time for all of us. It was last Fall when we got all the bad news about the banks and the news media was telling us our country was going into a depression. Of course that didn’t happen but timing was not good.
Bill felt like our fundraiser and event was important to fisheries in the Park. Also, Orvis has a large presence here. They have us as a dealer, a company store in Sevierville and Blackberry Farm is an Orvis Lodge. So, he committed to a much needed cash donation of $1,000 plus $2,500 in merchandise for the auction. Now that is a lot. Orvis, Temple Fork and Little River Outfitters were our largest sponsors at that point.
But, what made it even better Bill said he was coming down from Vermont to attend Troutfest. Robert Bryant would be coming too. Robert is our Orvis Regional Business Manager and good friend. We’ve been friends for years. Robert lives in North Carolina and gives us unbelievable support and service. That’s Orvis for you. They have treated us good for many years and they did it again.