Recent News

Behind the dynasty: Duck Commander CEO to share family business success story in Sioux Falls

Posted in ,   |  February 15, 2024

Willie Robertson, the dynamic and affable CEO of Duck Commander, is not just a television personality — he’s a living success story.

From humble beginnings in the Louisiana bayou to becoming a household name through the smash-hit reality TV show “Duck Dynasty,” Robertson’s journey is an inspiring testament to the power of his faith in God, hard work, perseverance and staying true to one’s roots.

Robertson will share his family business success story this spring in Sioux Falls at the 32nd Annual Family Business Conference hosted by Prairie Family Business Association.

The conference April 17-18 is sold out for in-person attendance but has options for virtual attendance.

“We’re incredibly excited to welcome Willie Robertson and allow our families to learn from his amazing story,” said Stephanie Larscheid, executive director of the Prairie Family Business Association.

“Our conference has earned a reputation for being the sort of event families attend year after year, and speakers of this caliber are a big reason why.”

With his distinctive Southern charm and unmistakable beard, Robertson captivates audiences with tales of turning a small family business into a multimillion-dollar empire. Today, he’s in business with his wife, Korie, and their whole family. He shares the secrets of his success, from overcoming obstacles in the business world to embracing the values of faith, family and freedom that have guided him every step of the way.

“I love every time I get to go to Sioux Falls. It should be a fun time together,” Robertson said.

We caught up with him for a preview of what to expect from his conference appearance.

willie robertson ceo of duck commander

What are some of your earliest memories of growing up in a family business?

I think I did all the jobs at Duck Commander. I actually started my own business in fifth grade; it played a big role in me becoming the CEO decades later.

What made you decide to join the family business? Did you always plan on doing it, or did you consider going a different direction?

I never saw myself working for the family business. I was leading a Christian youth camp in my 20s. I had no plans to come back and work for my dad. But around 30 years old, I saw it in a completely different light and knew I could grow it. I went and met with my dad and ended up stepping into the leadership of the company.

Duck Commander clearly was a much different business when you began working there – and you helped grow it considerably. What are some of the biggest factors that you credit for its success?

Hard work was No. 1 for sure. We didn’t rush things. We let it happen over time. We weren’t trying to move too fast. A big factor for me was technology. Technology was changing, and I saw online would be big for us. I helped us to transition to more of an online presence, and it made a huge difference. I made relationships with many people who were crucial along the way. We learned early on about building our brand image. Even before “Duck Dynasty,” entertainment became a big focus to help sell the products.

Few family businesses ever experience themselves being shown on reality television. What made you decide to go for the concept, and how do you think it helped shape both your business and your family?

The reality show was all my wife’s idea. She watched reality TV and thought we could have a great show. Few of us actually believed it before it happened. And she was right, I was wrong, which is not unusual. “Duck Dynasty” had a giant impact on our business and family. It was a crazy ride, but it’s opened so many doors for our family and business that wouldn’t have opened otherwise. Our focus has been to stay grounded and keep faith No. 1.

How closely do you continue to work with family in your business? Are there some strategies you employ to help balance business with family?

We stay close as a greater family, but we all have many different things we do now. The show afforded many of those opportunities. Many have to do with our faith, which has been our biggest common denominator. Honestly, I don’t think about balance a lot. In order to do really big things in life, you will be out of balance at times.

You also have a third generation working in the business. What have you found helpful as you’ve worked to transition them and integrate them into the company?

It all starts over. They did not grow up with the same challenges that I did, so there may be a little less hunger to really succeed. The next generation may get better opportunities, but success is never handed to us. It’s the same principles: hard work, relationships, etc. I love that all of my kids have different talents. The trick is to learn to work together as a family and a business.

What will you be sharing with the audience at the Prairie Family Business Annual Conference? What do you hope they take away from it?

I’m going to share our story. I will do it in humorous way. If you know our family, you know that we joke a lot. We like to have fun. I’ll also share how without our faith, none of what we have would have been possible because my family almost completely separated. We just had a movie come out called “The Blind” that shows where we came from and where we almost ended up. Had that happened, there would have been no business or family.

Register today for the 32nd Annual Family Business Conference and learn more by clicking here.

Scroll to Top