For the past 25 years Bill Jordan has poured his heart into the outdoors, leading the way in pattern innovation, outdoor entertainment and connecting others to the outdoors. Here's a glimpse into the life of Realtree's founder and leader. Welcome to Realtree®.
Bill Jordan (pronounced Jurdan; It’s a regional thing) graduated from Ole Miss, leaving behind a successful football career where as a wide reciever he helped QB Archie Manning set numerous passing records. He left with a diploma and a bum knee, neither of which helped him with his dreams of a career in the NFL.
Bill worked for his father and brother at Leon Jordan Marine in his hometown of Columbus, Georgia. Bill’s natural salesmanship skills served him well in the business, but his best business attributes – his promotional sense and ability – were developed while fishing and winning bass tournaments across the Southeast.
While Bill enjoyed the boat industry, his true passion was for hunting. This sparked his interest in forming a hunting company, Spartan Archery Products, which he opened in a back room of his father’s boat dealership. Spartan manufactured T-shirts, head nets, caps and archery accessories at a local mill. Bill then sold the finished goods to a variety of retail customers across the country.
Bill attended the Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show and saw Jim Crumley’s Trebark® Camouflage. At that very moment, Bill began working on what would be come Realtree® Camouflage and more. Upon his return to Columbus, Bill worked in his parent’s front yard, sketching the bark of a giant tree, creating what would become the first Realtree camouflage pattern.
Bill introduced Realtree® Camouflage at the SHOT Show. Interesting factoid: Bill couldn’t afford the 20x20-foot space he’d purchased at the show, so he had employees warn him whenever they saw SHOT Show officials in the aisle. Bill would then hide behind a curtain in the back of the booth. He did manage to pay his bill by the time the show was over.
Bill wanted to make sure that magazine readers knew what they were looking at when they saw his camo in magazines so he developed the first Team Realtree® logo. This logo has evolved over the years and can be found on hundreds of products and even on NASCAR race cars.
Bill added bark and leaf overlays to his original Realtree® Pattern to create Brown-Leaf® and Grey-Leaf®. Thus began the evolution of camouflage into the modern day High Definition patterns offered by Realtree.
Improvement to the effectiveness of the Realtree® patterns continued with the introduction of All-Purpose Brown and All-Purpose Grey. These two new patterns were much more “open” than any other patterns on the market at the time. David Blanton joins Realtree® and in…
… Realtree® entered the video and television markets with Springtime Monarchs® and Whitetails in the Wild® videos, as well as the Realtree Outdoors® television show. The following year the turkey and deer video titles were changed to All-Stars of Spring® and Monster Bucks® and have been branded this way ever since.
Realtree joined forces with Richard Childress Racing as primary sponsor of the #31 Chevrolet®, then driven by Mike Skinner. This led in the later years to an associate sponsor deal of the #3 Dale Earnhardt Chevy, to a primary sponsorship of the #71 Dave Marcis Monte Carlo, and an associate sponsorship of the #29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet.
Realtree introduced the X-tra Brown® and the X-tra Grey® patterns, and Bill sold the Spartan clothing line to focus Realtree’s efforts completely on licensing and marketing.
Realtree introduced the Advantage® brand and Advantage Wetlands® camo, which found a home on nearly every hunters’ back. Also, ReatlreeOutdoors.com went live. Interesting side note: Initially a “web entrepreneur” bought the rights to Realtree.com. This unfortunate event forced the use of RealtreeOutdoors.com for a couple of years until a settlement was reached.
Realtree Hardwoods was introduced and Bill started Immersion Graphics Corporation, which today is the primary source for decoration of all camo hard goods products such as guns, bows, ATVs and more.
Advantage Timber® hit the market and took it by storm. This pattern carried the wooded/timber camo theme a step further with the incorporation of many more neutral/natural/subtle colors, thus adding not only to the effectiveness of the pattern but also the appeal.
How do you improve on your best-selling pattern ever? Introduce a proprietary printing process called High Definition® and utilize it on Realtree Hardwoods HD® and Realtree Hardwoods Green HD®. The High Definition process truly set Realtree patterns apart from the competition – not only in terms of realism, but also effectiveness, print quality, steadfastness and more. Most unbearable moments of 2002: Bill misses “The Barbwire Buck” and “Stickers.” See Monster Bucks XI® for details.
Advantage MAX-1 addressed the Western hunter’s desire for an open terrain pattern – and more. MAX-1 proved to be extremely versatile in virtually every terrain encountered across the huge expanse called The West.
Realtree looks for a slogan that hit at the heart of everything we’re about... and found it: Family, Friends, and the Outdoors.
Realtree went crazy and wrapped a Las Vegas Monorail in AP to promote the Realtree message at the SHOT Show. Realtree’s Monster Bucks TV® debuted on Outdoor Channel® as did Realtree’s Monster Bulls TV® on Versus®, bringing not only the two DVD series to television, but also much more action, tips, highlights and behind-the-scenes footage.
Realtree welcomed the Advantage brand and patterns into the Realtree family. From now on, there’s no excuse not to wear Realtree. We truly have every need covered!
In 2011, Realtree celebrated 25 years of keeping outdoorsmen, women and children concealed in the “World's Most Versatile Camo Patterns.” And Realtree is committed to the future, with plans to continue supporting our hunting heritage so that all future generations can enjoy the great outdoors as we do today.
Realtree launched what at the time was its most realistic pattern ever, Realtree Xtra. The breakthrough in camo pattern realism came from a combination of design and printing technology that delivered three distinct fields within one camo pattern: a foreground, mid-ground, and background. The Realtree Xtra camo design featured 12 warm, natural colors. The new design provided all-season utility for hunters and outdoorspeople.
Realtree introduced MAX-5, the hardest working camo for the hardest working hunters. This pattern is filled with cattails, reeds, cane and grasses to blend into flooded marshes. Plus corn, wheat, oats and sunflowers to hide you in open fields. It has branches, twigs and leaves that work in flooded timber. And with open areas that mimic mud, water, bark and shadows, MAX-5 literally adds another layer of invisibility to waterfowl camo. Of course, all MAX-5 pattern elements are strategically placed to create super-realistic tone, contrast and shadow. The result? Maximum effectiveness for your waterfowl success.
2018 was a BIG year for Realtree camo pattern launches. First out of the gate was Realtree EDGE, which pretty much perfected the art and science of "stick and limb" camo. Realtree also appealed to all of our angling fans with the Realtree Fishing pattern and brand. Wearing and using Realtree Fishing gear tells all who see it that you are a fisherman and conservationist. Realtree closed out 2018 with the launch of Realtree Timber, a waterfowl pattern carved from the Delta itself. Something tells us that deer and turkey hunters are going to like Realtree Timber too!