Feature Student: Kevin Howell of Davidson River Outfitters

When did you first know you were on the right path in the specialty retail industry?  
My first indicator that we were one the correct path was showing up at national-level shows and seeing people wearing our logo merchandise at the shows. The other indicator was when manufacturers started calling and asking us to do product testing and serve on advisory committees.
What’s your favorite part of your job?  
My favorite job in the store is working with those individuals who are just getting started in the sport and helping them get set up with the proper gear and then spending time with them in the back of the shop learning how to use all of their new gear.
What’s the most valuable lesson you learned through Mann U?  
You have to be able to adapt and change on a moment’s notice.  In the outdoor industry, we are dependent on the economy, weather, fuel supply and hundreds of other variables. Over the last twenty years, we have had to endure economy collapse, fires, low water, high water. When the economy collapsed in 2008, we refocused our efforts to get anglers to fish local instead of traveling; the result was 2008-2012 were our fastest growth years.
Give us one pointer for developing a genuine relationship with your customers. 
Treat every customer the way you want to be, learn their names and build relationships.
Your bumper sticker would read, “I’d rather be… ___.”   
What was your favorite part of working with the Mann Group?  
The Mann Group truly wants every specialty retail business to prosper. They are great with follow-up and always seem interested in how we are doing.

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