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When an idealistic business professor named Bill Parks set out in 1972 to prove that the principles he taught in the classroom could work in the real world, he had no trouble deciding what kind of startup to launch. Bill was a river runner, and he wanted to help others enjoy the sport he’d come to love so much. Starting with $2,000 from his savings, he stocked an inventory of boating gear in his garage and typed out the first Northwest River Supplies catalog.

Employee ownership has done more than improve the financial futures of NRS employees; it has made us a better company. We’ve learned how eager workers can become caring owners, how small ideas can lead to big improvements, how a stake in the outcome makes every decision more meaningful. Every NRS employee-owner is personally responsible for the company’s performance, from customer service to dealer support to product development and quality control.