Great Outdoor Provision Co., a homegrown business started by nature lovers 40 years ago, is passing the reins of the company from its graying founder to new owners.
The Raleigh company said Wednesday that four managers acquired a major equity stake and will eventually own the entire company. The terms were not disclosed.
Co-founder Tom Valone, 62, remains chairman of the board.
Great Outdoor Provision Co., which sells hiking, camping, backpacking and other outdoor gear, has resisted the shift to online sales and does business exclusively through seven retail stores in the state.
The company has also spurned acquisition bids and other overtures over the years, said Chuck Millsaps, 52, Great Outdoor's new president and former "minister of culture."
It will maintain its commitment to give away a substantial portion of profits to support local environmental organizations, he said. It employs between 100 and 150 people, depending on the time of year.
The other new co-owners are:
Bill Mauney, 63, vice president of retail management; Molly Cherry, 34, vice president of retail support; Travis Zairns, 42, vice president of merchandise.
“Equity groups kept pitching me to expand like wildfire and then sell-out,” Valone said in the company's press release. “But that’s not the adventure we intended."
Valone founded the company in 1972 with two others, in Carrboro, and later moved the main office to Cameron Village in Raleigh. The other founding partners have since left the company.
The company's colorful, counter-cultural origins are described on its web site:
"My passions were rock climbing, backpacking, canoe camping and fly fishing, while partner J, who hated underwear and rigid schedules, loved rock climbing and hanging out playing his guitar," Valone writes on the site.
"Partner B just liked trips, which he took way too often," Valone continues. "The out of store outing time got the better of old B’s productivity, and we had to buy him out, and that loathing of schedules led J and me to part ways."