A large crowd gathered at White River Conference Center this morning for Ozarks Technical Community College’s Excellence in Business Award presentation. This year’s recipient was Springfield native and Bass Pro Shops founder/CEO Johnny Morris, a businessman and self-proclaimed fishing enthusiast who’s also the mastermind behind Tracker Marine Group, Big Cedar Lodge, Top of the Rock and Dogwood Canyon Nature Park.
After enjoying breakfast, guests watched a video of pictures and footage from many of Morris’s fishing trips with his family and friends, sharing some of his fondest and most heart-felt memories with the crowd. Next came an interview, where OTC’s College Director of Communications Mark Miller sat down with Morris and chatted about his life and career. They discussed everything from the humble start of Bass Pro Shops and its successful growth to the start of his many other businesses. When questioned about the much-anticipated opening of America’s Wildlife Museum & Aquarium, Morris replied with a comment that got a laugh from the crowd. “Well, we’re finally going to get it open,” he said.
Morris repeatedly credited his family members and his many associates as giant factors of his success, and while he mentioned how blessed and grateful he is for his business accomplishments and his many opportunities he’s had to travel the world, he repeatedly mentioned how grateful he is to call the Ozarks home. “We’re all so lucky to live where we live,” Morris said. “I’m blessed. I get to travel to many places around the country and beyond, but I always get homesick to get back here. There’s no place I’d rather live, even remotely, than right here.”
To learn more of Morris’s story, check out View from the Top, originally published in 417 Magazine in November 2014.