Ryan Gellert, Patagonia’s C.E.O., Has a Mission: ‘Save Our Home Planet’
By Michael Robinson
The New York Times
On a quiet day last September in the foothills of the eastern Sierra Nevada, Mike Gellert led a small group on a cross-country walk amid deep green wilderness in the shadow of Mt. Whitney. Nearby, a group of rangers had already been out combing the snow for evidence of a pack of ravenous wolves that had recently been sighted near the national park.
It was a chilly day in the midst of what was otherwise, Gellert said, “a perfect climate.” But, he added, “If they get to the top of Mt. Whitney today, they’re going to have to make sure they’re in their skis.”
A year later, Gellert is the president of Patagonia, a mountain-walking clothing company, which launched a mission on Sunday to highlight the environmental and global significance of the Earth’s largest rainforest: the rainforests of the Amazon, Congo and northern South America that together harbor more than a quarter of all the creatures on Earth.
“The Amazon Rainforest has a fundamental role in the health of our planet,” Gellert said. “We do not have one planet, we have many different species living in this one ecosystem.”
As the leader of a company that sells about $500 billion a year in goods to consumers worldwide, Gellert has spent much of his career walking the world, not for profit, but for the company’s profit-driven principles.
“Sometimes you get to the end and you say, ‘I love this so much,’ ” said Gellert. “My goal is to make that even more important by building our brand around this.”
As president, Gellert has no plan to increase Patagonia’s $65-an-hour wage or increase Patagonia’s $3-an-hour minimum wage across the company. In interviews with Fortune, Gellert has said he loves his job because it allows him to live “one day at a time, year after