Johnny Morris, Angler and Founder of Bass Pro Shops

(Last Updated On: Jan 6, 2018)

A family man, businessman, and a lot of other things all in one, Johnny Morris is an American billionaire who has risen to wealth and considerable fame thanks to his businesses including the Bass Pro Shops which he founded and is the CEO.

Today, he is regarded as one of the most successfully and influential retailers in the world. He is also an environmentalist whose efforts have been described as the most ambitious and impressive re-creation of our environment with reference to the Wonders of Wildlife.

Johnny Morris Bio, Family

It was in 1948 that Johnny, John L. Morris, was born to a father who was a businessman and who founded the Brown Derby liquor company in Springfield, Missouri. His mother who like his father, loved fishing and hunting. Both the love for hunting and fishing as well as the business sense from his parents were going to later influence the life of Johnny.

Described as media shy and very down to earth, Johnny who began as a professional angler was raised in Missouri alongside his sister, JoAnn Junge. He got to begin fishing since he was only 10 years old with his grandfather, and later with his father and uncle.

For his education, the young avid angler attended the Glendale High School in Missouri, from where he moved to Drury University where he obtained a Bachelor’s degree in business.

One of the central things about the man which may even be his entire story is his business life and his love for what he does.

Shortly after he began his business and was deeply into building it in 1982, Johnny met Jeanie who was then a friend to his sisters. Years down, the two are married now for more than 30 years and they have 4 children; a son and 3 daughters.

His only son, John Paul Morris has also decided to follow the path of his father and he is as well a hunter. In January 2017, Morris Jr broke the Missouri record for bow fishing with a monstrous bigmouth buffalo he shot with his friends. While theirs weighed 57.7 pounds the previous holder stood at 54 pounds.

Another interesting thing about John Paul Morris who is the heir to his father is that he attended the University of Mississippi where he majored in business. John and his younger sister Megan are the faces among Johnny’s children that are more popular with the business, with Megan into conservation and community affairs.

Johnny Morris Business Life

It was as far back as the early 1970s that Morris decided to use a part of his father’s liquor store to start the Bass Pro Shops by selling fishing tackle. The young Morris decided to join the trade because he wasn’t happy with what others around him were offering judging from the fact that he was a professional angler.

When he started, Johnny Morris didn’t only have a little space to get things going, he also had no experience in running a business, except the little he was able to learn from his father’s liquor business.

Nevertheless, he was soon to revolutionize how the entire business was done, as well as boating in general with his professionally rigged boat motor and trailer packages. He would also go on to invest in other businesses including leisure and other outdoor activities.

Apart from his businesses, Johnny Morris is also a lover of the environment, aqua life, and wildlife. It is because of this that he got to put in efforts and finances towards the establishment of the Wonders of Wildlife Museum & Aquarium which began in 2001.

When he was building the Museum which is now in Missouri, Morris got some amount from the federal appropriations, but was later forced to return it after public outcry and he completed the project with his personal money.

His Wonders of Wildlife and aquarium has been seen as one of the most assertive and immersive fishing and wildlife tourist attraction in the world.

Bass Pro Shops

One of the things for which Johnny became rich and famous is for the Bass Pro Shops which he has been able to form and nurture. Today, it has returned as the largest boat manufacturer in the world and it is into the manufacturing of both fishing boats and recreational ones.

Alongside boats, the Bass Pro Shop is also into retailing of hunting, camping, and general outdoor recreational merchandise.

Before starting the entire business, Morris only had his eyes on how to avoid work and fish. But then, he got stuck with the problem of getting the lures bass anglers needed to enjoy life as an angler.

Years down the line, Bass Pro Shops which began at the back of a liquor store got to grow to over a hundred stores spread across 35 states. What is even more fascinating is that the company has over 20,000 workers.

Most recently, Bass Pro acquired Cabela’s, a move which speaks of how much more the company wants to go bigger. Other things handled by Johnny alongside these are the White River Marine Group and Big Cedar Lodge which is one of the best places to escape the world into nature. He also runs golf courses and many other things.

Johnny Morris Estimated Net Worth

A man with great business wit and wisdom, Johnny Morris has been able to build himself a company that may sustain for a very long time, and that is the source of his wealth among other things.

According to the Forbes Magazine, Johnny Morris has an estimated Net Worth of 4.4 billion dollars as at December 2017. This has got his name as part of Forbes 400 richest people in the world.

Looking at the long list of his resume, it will only be right for one to expect that with all things being equal, the man may see his net worth going even higher. This is even when you begin to consider that his company was able to have a successful $5 billion acquisition of rival retailer Cabela’s which has seen the size of the Bass Pro Shops almost doubling.

Awards and Recognition

For his contributions to the world of fisheries and wildlife as well as the environment, Johnny Morris has walked away with many awards including the Teddy Roosevelt Conservationist Award, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ (AFWA) Johnny Morris Award, and Excellence in Business Award from the Ozarks Technical Community College.

He was also awarded the Missourian Hall of Fame, National Sporting Goods Association Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame, Missouri Tourism Hall of Fame, and 2008 Retail Innovator of the Year.