From The Duck Blind To The Corner Office

From The Duck Blind To The Corner Office

A local recruiter specializes in execs who can tell a deer stand from a treehouse.

Minnesotans buy more than a million fishing licenses a year. The governor hosts an annual pheasant opener. And the state is home to major manufacturers of snowmobiles and ATVs. Amid this outdoor playground, an Andover man has launched a unique business that’s defined by people’s love of outdoor recreation.

Ross Gilsrud is PointsNorth Search Group, which takes a novel approach to the executive search business. He’s carved out a slice of the talent market to find qualified candidates to meet the leadership needs of fishing, hunting or outdoor industry manufacturers.

A man who enjoys hunting deer and pheasants, Gilsrud is a veteran of the outdoors trade, working in sales and business development for 11 years for three manufacturers.

Based on his work in the sector, Gilsrud says, “I saw a need for a recruiting agency that focuses in on this niche.” Before taking the leap, he did his due diligence by reaching out to an array of outdoors business contacts. They confirmed his analysis that firms need a recruiter focused on business executives with the unique expertise and affinity required by outdoors companies.

“It goes all the way back to the way we were raised in our childhoods,” Gilsrud says. So he wants to match business people who take “their passion to the work environment.”

Americans are willing to spend a good chunk of their disposable income on outdoor gear. A 2012 study for the Outdoor Industry Association showed U.S. residents spend about $120 billion annually on outdoor recreation products—more than twice what is spent on airplane tickets.

As baby boomers retire and outdoors companies look for their next wave of leaders, Gilsrud plans to leverage his expertise to make good company and executive matches. To spread his reach, he’s affiliated with MRI Network, a large executive search and recruitment company founded in 1965.