Show Notes

Air Date: 8/27/2019

About the episode:

Russell Walters, President at Northern Outdoors Born in the U.K., Walters has been involved in the outdoor industry since the early 1980s. A registered Maine guide, Walters has experience on the east and west coasts of the U.S., including a four-year term as general manager for O.A.R.S. in Angels Camp, California. Walters returned to Maine in 2000 to become president of Northern Outdoors, a four-season adventure resort located in The Forks.

Walters serves on a number of local, regional and state organizations, including as a board member of Maine Huts & Trails and as the current chair of the Maine Sports Commission. Walters also serves as regional director, North America, for the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA). His work for the ATTA takes him the length and breadth of the U.S. and abroad, working with destinations, tour operators, agents and guides to promote the economic and conservation benefits of adventure-based travel.

In the episode:   

1:59 – Russell shares how he grew up in England kayaking and, while looking for a place to train and run river, found the Kennebec River.

5:18 – Russell shares how he now lives in Kingfield, Maine, and runs Northern Outdoors.

6:31 – Nancy shares how she and Russell met as Nancy acquired Northern Outdoors as a client and agreed to become a rafting guide.

8:45 – Russell doesn’t think he would change much about his career or the operation of Northern Outdoors.

10:30 – Nancy points out Northern Outdoors’ ideal location.

11:53 – Russell and Nancy discuss the start of Northern Outdoors as a cross between terror and exhilaration.

14:02 – Russell shares how Northern Outdoors has evolved over the past 30 years.

15:35 – Russell talks about how PR and marketing have changed at Northern Outdoors, including a focus on customer experience and becoming more open to review sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp.

20:09 – Russell shares how technology, seasonality and staffing are obstacles to success and how he has overcome these obstacles, including being part of creating a new reservation system.

26:30 – Russell talks about his involvement in the ATTA.

27:39 – Russell admires how collaborative the Brewer’s Guild is compared to other aspects of tourism.

33:05 – Russell shares how Northern Outdoors focuses on engagement when measuring success.

34:03 – Nancy mentions how Matt Ginn’s way off measuring success could relate to the outdoor business, as well.

34:47 – Russell describes how he prefers to make connections through the phone, video chatting, rather than online.

39:30 – Some resources that Russell uses include podcasts and the book The Customer Comes Second as resources.

42:09 – Russell encourages people starting their careers to find something they love, do lots of research, and stick with it or fail fast.


On operating Northern Outdoors: “I think we’ve, all of us, learned to adapt and to evolve and not remain stagnant. I think that’s part of the joy of being up here.” — Russell Walters, President at Northern Outdoors


Hug Your Haters by Jay Baer

The Customer Comes Second by Hal Rosenbluth

Looking to connect: 



Northern Outdoors:

Phone: (207) 663-4466 or 1-800-765-7238