Our Founder, Johnny Morris
Connecting generations to the outdoors
Johnny (John L) Morris, founder and CEO of Bass Pro Shops, got his start in 1972 by selling fishing tackle out of the back of his father’s store. Since then, Johnny has earned a reputation as one of the most visionary and influential retailers of the last 50 years. Today he is known as a retail and travel destination pioneer.
Johnny’s values were strongly shaped by his parents. Both were born in 1911 to very humble beginnings in the heart of the Ozarks in Willard, Missouri. His mother Genny was one of 10 children growing up in a two-bedroom house. His father John A. Morris grew up poor and was raised primarily by his Great Aunt. A decorated World War II veteran, John A. proudly served his country and participated in the Battle of the Bulge. Afterward he returned home to Missouri and became a successful merchant in the Springfield area.
Johnny’s parents both loved to hunt and fish and soon shared their passions with their son. From an early age, Johnny understood how fishing and hunting fostered a special respect and appreciation for nature and wildlife.
At age 21, Johnny fell in love with the emerging sport of bass fishing and spent five years on the professional circuit. After noticing growing interest in the sport, Johnny started Bass Pro Shops with 8 square feet of space in the back of his father’s liquor store in Springfield, Missouri, the company’s sole location for the first 13 years of business. Johnny’s passion for the outdoors and his feel for the products and shopping experiences desired by outdoor enthusiasts helped transform the industry.
The Story of Johnny Morris
One of America’s foremost conservation leaders
In conservation circles Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris is often referred to as a modern-day Theodore Roosevelt for his leadership, personal commitment and dedication to conservation efforts.
A conservationist at heart, Johnny Morris recognized the need for citizens to take a strong position in the careful management and use of our natural resources. Using his entrepreneurial success as a platform for that cause, he has contributed heavily both in time and resources to many significant conservation organizations and initiatives.
Today he is one of the country’s leaders working to ensure natural habitats, wildlife and the outdoors remain healthy and abundant for future generations to protect and enjoy, having established a significant personal legacy that spans national initiatives and extensive partnerships supporting conservation organizations.
Nature-Based Attractions and Experiences
From innovative products and retail destinations to world-class resorts and attractions, Johnny is driven by a passion for creating signature experiences that help families connect to nature and each other. Natural beauty, quality craftsmanship, attention to detail and family fun are the hallmarks of every project Johnny pursues.