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Their Story


When an idealistic business professor named Bill Parks set out in 1972 to prove that the principles he taught in the classroom could work in the real world, he had no trouble deciding what kind of startup to launch. Bill was a river runner, and he wanted to help others enjoy the sport he’d come to love so much. Starting with $2,000 from his savings, he stocked an inventory of boating gear in his garage and typed out the first Northwest River Supplies catalog.

Bill was drawn to rivers, to the beautiful places they carried him, to the challenge of running rapids, and to the people and experiences that made every trip a memory to cherish. Now in his 80s, Bill is still running rivers and still working to help others pursue their passions on the water. And the nearly 100 employee-owners at NRS are committed to the same singular vision. What draws us to water is what drives us every day.

Their Culture


As Bill Parks neared his 80th birthday, he knew he needed to consider the legacy he wanted to leave behind. He could have sold NRS to the highest bidder, taken his money and floated off into the sunset, but that wasn’t his style. Instead, Bill helped finance a deal to sell the company to his employees. In 2014, NRS became 100% employee owned.

Employee ownership has done more than improve the financial futures of NRS employees; it has made us a better company. We’ve learned how eager workers can become caring owners, how small ideas can lead to big improvements, how a stake in the outcome makes every decision more meaningful. Every NRS employee-owner is personally responsible for the company’s performance, from customer service to dealer support to product development and quality control.

NRS - Celebrating 50 Years On The Water



Paddling Gear




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