Celebrity of the Year 2011

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During the OutDoor Show, the trade show for the European Outdoor Industry, Paul Petzl, the president of Petzl, a company located in Crolles, France, was celebrated as the “OutDoor Celebrity of the Year 2011” on 14 July 2011.

French entrepreneur Paul Petzl, the president of Petzl – a company that supplies mountaineering equipment and work-safety gear – has been named this year’s “OutDoor Celebrity of the Year”.

Paul Petzl was born in Saint-Ismier, at the base of the Dent de Crolles, a rugged mountain (2062 m high) in the Chartreuse mountain range, 20 kilometers north of Grenoble, on 5 April 1950. One of Europe’s most complex and most expansive cave systems can be found inside this mountain. Paul’s father, Fernand Petzl, was one of the first people to investigate this system of caves during the Second World War – and it became the place where modern cave exploration was born. Fernand soon began to develop caving equipment to aid in his explorations.

Paul Petzl followed in his father’s footsteps and also became an enthusiastic caving expert – but one who had decided to combine work with pleasure. Paul first used his equipment for sports climbing and mountaineering and then later in the working world for work-at-height jobs. After completing his university education, he joined his father’s company – a small-scale workshop with just seven employees at that time.

Father and son achieved a breakthrough in 1973 with the development of a new type of rope clamp and a new headlamp. In 1975, the company became a corporation and the first building was completed. A short time later, the Petzl company was attracting attention not only among the cave explorers; rock and mountain climbers were also becoming interested. Petzl invented special climbing harnesses for these new markets and designed the machinery required to produce them. In 1986, Petzl was the first company in this sector to set up its own test laboratory. The Petzl Foundation was formed in 2006 to focus on three main areas: Safety / Environmental Protection / Research Project Funding. V. Axess – The Petzl Institute – was formed two years later. It is used as a research as well as a training centre.

As a true entrepreneur, he hopes that all his employees, suppliers and customers would say: “We would be happy if our children worked for Petzl – it’s a place where people get the respect that they deserve, where common values are established and lived, based on a job well done, and where the employees learn how to continue to develop by working together.”


Read about The GOLD winners OutDoor Industry Awards at OutDoors


Rohan Heritage

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