In agreement with his wife and two children, he decided instead to transfer 100% of their shares in the company to a trust responsible for ensuring that its values are respected, and to an association fighting against the environmental crisis and the protection of nature, to whom the profits will be donated.
“Earth is now our sole shareholder,” he wrote in a letter posted on Patagonia’s website.
“I never wanted to be a businessman. I started as a craftsman, making climbing equipment for my friends and myself before moving on to clothing,” he recalls.
Founded nearly fifty years ago, Patagonia quickly became involved in the protection of nature, scrupulously choosing its raw materials or donating 1% of its sales each year to environmental NGOs.
But it was not enough, judged its founder.
“One option was to sell Patagonia and give away all the money. But we couldn’t be sure that a new owner would maintain our values or keep all of our employees.”
And taking Patagonia public would have been “a disaster”: “Even listed companies with good intentions are under too much pressure to create short-term gains at the expense of long-term vitality and responsibility.”
Mr. Chouinard’s family will continue to “guide” the work of the trust and the association.