For Johnny Morris it pays to sell branded fishing rods, hunting apparel and even outdoors-themed brick-a-bac.
Morris – the founder of the ever-enlarging Bass Pro Shops - is one of the 20 newest members of Forbes' richest 400.
To make the list one must be worth at least $1 billion; typically much, much more.
And Morris easily makes the list.
Forbes says Morris is now worth $4 billion. Yep, that's with a “B,” not an “M.”
Morris ranks 110th on the list, just behind Hollywood's George Lucas with his $4.2 billion but ahead of Cleveland Cavilers' owner Dan Gilbert and his $3.9 billion.
To get his billions and billions the 65-year-old Morris began small by opening a fishing section in back of his father's Missouri liquor store.
Over time that over time Morris built the still-privately owned business into an empire that today includes 50 stores peppered across much of the country along with 19 marine dealerships that sell Bass Pro Shops' branded Bass Tracker boats and such like.
Bass Pro has two stores in Ohio: One near Toledo and another near Cincinnati.
Nor is this empire stagnant, either. Like a veritable economic Genghis Khan that swept across the steppes of Asia and into Europe, Morris is set to open 20 new retail outlets with the latest installment coming in recent days in Palm Bay, Florida.
Yet Morris is not the only merchant of outdoor merchandise to appear on Forbes' list. Well, sort of anyway.
There is Edward Stack whose $1.15 billion has come about by building upon his late father's small bait shop into the 500-store outdoors/sports retailer giant, Dick's Sporting Goods.
Stack is mentioned in the Forbes' featured story but under its “not quite made it” listing.
No word on where the Cabela's brothers Dick and Jim stand but I'd bet dollars to doughnuts neither of them need to apply for food stamps.
Though the brothers retain 25-percent ownership in the business they founded Cabela's today is a publicly traded entity.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn