Owner of Patagonia and his 1990 Corolla All trac.

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Mattel
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My tercel:: 1988 Corolla 4wd Wagon (AKA Corolla All-trac) 5speed, AC, Power Sunroof, Windows, Mirrors, Steering, Locking, Diff Lock, 14" Corolla SX Alloys with Silica Hankook Tyres, 4afe, King Springs, Upgraded Headlights, Full Synth oils, 210,000kms
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Owner of Patagonia and his 1990 Corolla All trac.

Post by Mattel »

Founder of Patagonia outdoor equipment worth $1.5 Billion Yvon Chouinard could afford to drive any car he wanted. Seems like he has a bit of a thing for his Corolla All-trac. "Live Simply" might be more than just his advertising Mantra.

"Chouinard and I made the hour-and-a-half drive from Ventura to the new house in his 1990 Toyota station wagon ("the greatest car in the world") with two prototype Patagonia surfboards riding on the roof rack."

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The Professor
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Re: Owner of Patagonia and his 1990 Corolla All trac.

Post by The Professor »

It's nice to see that not everyone who gains wealth and status is concerned about flaunting it. Gives me hope for humanity and the U.S. in general.
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Re: Owner of Patagonia and his 1990 Corolla All trac.

Post by ARCHINSTL »

Thanks, Matt!
Love the pump in the last photo - I sold dozens of them back in the '80s-'90s! It is the Meidai Top Super model, which Meidai also made under the Schwinn and Rampar (Raleigh) labels. The only floor pump as good as that was the Zefal Double Shot, which pumped in both directions.
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Mattel
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My tercel:: 1988 Corolla 4wd Wagon (AKA Corolla All-trac) 5speed, AC, Power Sunroof, Windows, Mirrors, Steering, Locking, Diff Lock, 14" Corolla SX Alloys with Silica Hankook Tyres, 4afe, King Springs, Upgraded Headlights, Full Synth oils, 210,000kms
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Owner of Patagonia and his 1990 Corolla All trac.

Post by Mattel »

Hi Tom,
I've got a Zefal as well. but don't think that it is a double shot its been great. Always do the research and purchase the quality item!
Previous: 83 Tercel SR5 4wd, 84 Tercel SR5 4wd
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Re: Owner of Patagonia and his 1990 Corolla All trac.

Post by Petros »

never heard that before. Chounard has actualy sold the whole operation and retired now, I wonder how old that article is. I heard that Bill Gates, founder of Micro Soft, drives a Honda Accord.

I had once met the than CEO of Black Diamond (a Patagonia spinoff that made climber gear) in 1986 (Peter Metcalf, who retired about 5 years ago), they offered me a job working for them designing outdoor gear. silly me, I thought I could duplicate their success on my own....
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Mattel
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Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Owner of Patagonia and his 1990 Corolla All trac.

Post by Mattel »

Hey Petros. You gave it a go thats the main thing! Black Diamond is a quality manufacturer as well. I have a few of their items for snowboarding.
The article I quoted was from 2008 but the photo of him with the pump and the tyre is from 2013 according to instagram. so fairly recent. I'm sure as a CEO he had several other cars like Gates and his Porsche. (the corolla looks like Wyoming registration?) and flew a lot so, yes. some hypocrisy can be levelled at him but I don't think that is fair in the big picture.
Previous: 83 Tercel SR5 4wd, 84 Tercel SR5 4wd
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Re: Owner of Patagonia and his 1990 Corolla All trac.

Post by Petros »

I know Chounard has a place in wyoming. as well as one in Venture not far from the beach (or used to anyway).

he started making pitons, and later hexes and stoppers for climbing, ice axes and crampons in the 1960 and 70's. originally Chounard Equipment company, which later introduced the Patagoina line of outdoor clothing. they split that into Great Pacific Iron works, and Patagonia divsions. I did not know at the time, but some fool was killed mountain climbing (imagine that), and the family sued the company, followed by some other gold digger lawsuits (a hazard for any successful and profitable company). they filed bankruptcy to protect themselves from the lawsuit, and spun off the hardware as "Black Diamond", employee owned and ran by Peter Metcalf who was the department manager (and quite a skilled climber too). And Chounard created the Patagonia company for the clothing line, with the agreement that Black Diamond would only make hardware, and Patagonia would only make clothing.

At the time when I was offered a job there, about 1989, Patagonia was profitable, selling about $90 million in outer wear, and Black Diamond was barely break even at $2 million total sales. So the decision was to separate so the unprofitable smaller part of their sales would not bring down the profitable business. a few years later I heard Patagonia was selling %200 million worth of outer wear.

I think Chounard sold the whole operation out a few years ago and retired. it is how he became a Billionaire. it was a fully owned company, not publicly traded. He has a rather large ego, and though I admired his ability to make good money in a business that is tough to just stay alive, I could never stand to hear his lectures about how we are destroying the planet (when it is his customers, and much of his manufacturing processes, that contribute to the abuses of the environment). I am not for harming the planet of course, but neither do I like listening to arrogant hypocrisy from a billionaire that made his money, and wants to have laws passed to stop anyone else from doing what he did.

In 1988 or 89, I had just dropped by their operation in Ventura to see where the climbing gear was made, and Mr. Metcalf knew who I was because I was selling my own small line of packs and cold weather gear (and mostly losing money at it). He liked my designs and wanted me to come work for them. Knowing a bit about the business I asked him if they were making any money. He got a look on his face that told me "no", said they were at break even (I did not know about their law suits), and they were slitting the company into two separate ones for climbing hardware, and clothing. They were moving the hardware manufacturing to Utah (they say it was cheaper there than in California, but I had been to Utah in the winter and was not keen on joining them there). He said the employees were interested in just keeping the climber gear available for the than small specialty market of hard core climbers. I suspect chounard just wanted to close it down, it made no money and was a big liability for him. Black Diamond did expand, and become profitable. they later into skis, trekking poles, and technical clothing as well as hardware, so the agreement must have expired.

I think both of these companies have been sold out to larger conglomerates. Patagonia is making packs and luggage now (considered hardware), and BD makes tents, clothing, packs, ski gear and lots of other outdoor stuff. some is pretty good, I own a lot of it, some of it I can't stand (I have had several of their costly head lamps, returned them all, costly trash). I wanted to call them and chew them out for such crap, they should know better. Much of their gear, both Patagonia and BD is made in the orient, so I think quality is variable. Some is still made in the US I think.

funny to see Chounard driving a Toyota all-trak, those pictures brought back memories of my close encounter with his company. Life took different paths for them and for me. You try and make good decisions at such life changing moments, but only much later do you realize it was youthful optimism and perhaps foolish ego that reveals the folly of your youthful choices.
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Re: Owner of Patagonia and his 1990 Corolla All trac.

Post by splatterdog »

Oh great. Now the dude is going to know that we are all closet 1 percenters laying low in our old Toyota's.
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Re: Owner of Patagonia and his 1990 Corolla All trac.

Post by ARCHINSTL »

splatterdog wrote: Thu Feb 28, 2019 8:36 am Oh great. Now the dude is going to know that we are all closet 1 percenters laying low in our old Toyota's.
Well, that is my excuse when I pull up to my monthly HS lunches (Class of '58) and assorted reunions.
They know I'm already eccentric 'cause of my p.t. and flowered Vans ...
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Re: Owner of Patagonia and his 1990 Corolla All trac.

Post by dlb »

That's awesome. The car isn't even babied -- it's dirty, got a bunch of stickers on the back, and it looks like the driver door is rusty. I love how utilitarian it is.

It's funny, I sold my AE95 a year ago now and while I remember why I felt it was time to move on to a different type of car, the AE95 is still my fave car ever. I've loved the look of it since I first saw it as a teen, and I've yet to see a car I like as much.
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Re: Owner of Patagonia and his 1990 Corolla All trac.

Post by ARCHINSTL »

:wink: I was tempted on an AE95 MT right right here in St. Louis a few years ago at a good price, but resisted.
Price was kinda high and, besides, Goldie wailed, so ...
But, it DID beckon ... :wink:
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"Oh, do not ask, 'What is it?' Let us go and make our visit."
T.S. Eliot - "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"
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Mark Twain
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Re: Owner of Patagonia and his 1990 Corolla All trac.

Post by Petros »

Tom, you do that and you might make goldie jealous, you never know what kind of trouble that will cause you.

I have owned both the all-track and the Tercel4wd over many miles of driving. the driving experience is very different, the corolla is much more like a comfortable road car, quiet, reliable and "tame". the Tercel is more rugged, lighter, nimble, more suited for rough roads and trails, more ground clearance as well. but more primitive, more road noise, etc. After driving both for over a year, I choose to sell the all-track and keep the Tercel. it is just more fun to drive.
'87 Tercel 4wd SR5 (current engine swap project)
'84 Tercel 4wd (daily driver, with on going mods)
'92 Mazda MPV 4wd (wife's daily driver)
'85 Tercel 4wd DLX auto(daughter's daily driver)
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Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Owner of Patagonia and his 1990 Corolla All trac.

Post by Mattel »

Thanks Petros. Interesting background there. I've worked freelance for some of the Australian Surfwear companies including Quiksilver and still have some of their experimental back country packs. But they ended up printing some of my work on t'shirts without permission and I ended up succesfullly suing them out of principal. So I got out of the surf companies. It was nice to be down the ocean everyday at Torquay Australia though but it was a little cuthroat and they ended up being bought out by their USA distributor and all the designers moved to Huntington Beach and Biarittz in France.
Patagonia (Patagucci) does very well now in the home of Quiksilver and Rip Curl because although they are also made globally they at least try and use fair trade. organic farming principles and are high quality gear. Charges of Hypocrisy are valid but no more than when someone on the capitalist side of (say Bill Gates retired and became quite altruistic with the Gates Foundation) decides to become a do-gooder.
Previous: 83 Tercel SR5 4wd, 84 Tercel SR5 4wd
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Re: Owner of Patagonia and his 1990 Corolla All trac.

Post by Petros »

I think it is the typical life cycle of a specialty company that expands out into general merchandise. the founder(s) start out providing specialty equipment or hardware for a narrow market. If they are successful (most are not, but a few get lucky or are skilled, and a few do well), they naturally want to expand there line. There is a far larger market for rain jackets and swim trunks than there is for ice axes and piton, so naturally as a business decision they expand into that area. I have seen many Patagucci swim trunks, tee shirts and sun hats that offer no significant advantage over no-name brand gear, but they have established both a reputation for quality and a certain outdoor image that sells the millions worth of "sports and causal" wear.

I can remember the the first Patagonia item I bought in about 1976 (when it was till part of Chounard equipment), a dark blue heavy synthetic fleece jacket that had to be worn under a wind or rain jacket (that was before Goretex), it was so superior in comfort and performance than the wool sweaters or shirts I used to us that I brought it on every trip. It was not much to look at, it looked the the lining out of a jacket. Patagonia has come a long way since, btw, that "Patagoucci" moniker was around way back than, because their gear was higher priced than everyone else. We poor climbers regretted having to pay that much, but begrudgingly did so because the performance was worth it. Now there are lots of lower cost good performing competitors, and of course tons of used gear on ebay, and at local specialty second hand stores. But I do still have a few Patagonia items, I bought them at gear swaps or even in second hand stores (I do not think I have bought any Patagonia gear new for 30 plus years). I find it kind of interesting that I will see Patagonia outer wear not just in the mountains, but also at shopping malls, on city streets, worn by people that do not look at all like they spend much time outdoors.

It is I guess the best any manufacturer can hope for, people way out side your original target market willing to pay a high price for your brand label, even for tee shirts and swim trunks, let along rain jackets, because of the reputation and perhaps just because fashionable to wear it. Chournard got lucky and happened to tap into a ethos that many people admire and embrace, even if they do not participate themselves. the logo, the label, the market positioning just happened to be embraced by admirers and wannabes, who respect the outdoor adventurer, even if they do not participate.

I do not begrudge him that, nor any charitable pursuits, such as Bill Gates work through his foundation. I just resent his lecturing us on how to live, as if he as some special insight in complex environmental issues after selling sports wear his whole life. It is just arrogance. I do not care to hear it from my next door neighbor, from a rude troll on Facebook, nor from a billionaire, nor politician.

Unfortunately we seem to live in an era of unchecked egos with an unlimited ability to communicate through multi media to us peasants how we should live.
'87 Tercel 4wd SR5 (current engine swap project)
'84 Tercel 4wd (daily driver, with on going mods)
'92 Mazda MPV 4wd (wife's daily driver)
'85 Tercel 4wd DLX auto(daughter's daily driver)
'01 Honda Civic (other daughter's daily driver)
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Mattel
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Re: Owner of Patagonia and his 1990 Corolla All trac.

Post by Mattel »

I understand what you are saying. I've worked for a few of the more unscruplious surfwear companies that are tbh part of history now. I guess the thing with Chournard is in this day and age you don't have to listen to his lectures. I actually imagine that he would have a lot of insights into the world of production and complex environmental issues compared to a layperson. The scale these companies work on his huge employing thousands so, yes he can make real difference but its up to the individual to be affected by that and I'd personally read 'let my people go surfing' than 'the art of the deal' I actually find it refreshing that a company is transparent about its aims and political allegiances rather than those slippery critters on wall street.
Previous: 83 Tercel SR5 4wd, 84 Tercel SR5 4wd
88 Corolla 4wd Wagon 5speed, All power options, Fact Sunroof, Diff Lock, 14" SX Alloys, Hankook Tyres, 4afe, King Springs, Upgraded Headlights, Full Synth oils, Tow Bar, 210,000kms
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