What Duck Commander is really selling
by Rob Sumrall
Phil Robertson may not appreciate me writing about his business or his family. I’m what Phil would derisively call a “yuppy.” I don’t own camo, hunt, or have a beard. That’s not to say I’m some granola PETA-type; I’m a devoted carnivore who loves gumbo, fried fish, and even the occasional boudin link. Phil lives off the land and, frankly, doesn’t think very highly of the lifestyle the rest of us non-outdoorsy types choose to live. I dwell comfortably in the suburbs buying my groceries at Kroger where the butcher kindly dresses my meat. In some ways, Phil and I have about as much in common as Snooki and the Pope, which is why it may seem odd that I have been sucked into Phil Robertson’s world via the uber-popular Duck Dynasty reality show.
Phil’s story fascinates me.
Decades ago, Phil kicked his wife and kids out of his house in a drunken rage. Phil was more interested in partying and hunting than parenting. About three months later, he came crawling back to his estranged wife, Miss Kay. Phil desperately wanted his family back. Willie Robertson, Phil’s son and CEO of Duck Commander, writes in his autobiography,
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“Fortunately for all of us, Kay was strong enough to forgive Phil and take him back. But she took him back with the following conditions: Phil had to quit drinking and walk away from his rowdy friends.”
It was at this rebuilding point of Phil’s young life that other things began to change as well. Willie writes, “From that day forward, Phil started his study of God’s Word. He attended church several times a week and started going to Bible study nearly every night. He was baptized at the age of twenty-eight and gave up drinking and partying altogether.” Phil’s newfound faith wasn’t a flash-in-the-pan phase. He continued to serve the Lord and grow in his faith. Today, he frequently speaks to men’s groups about Jesus. True to who he is, Phil wears camo to these speaking engagements.
Phil was blessed with, among other things, an entrepreneurial spirit and a vociferous work ethic. Forty years ago, he invented a double reed duck call that he would self-market, self-produce, and grow into a multi-million dollar company known today as Duck Commander. Despite his considerable success in the water fowl hunting industry, Phil and his family are probably better known as tv stars than the hunting world heroes they are…
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