Becoming an Authority in Your Niche
Good, better, or best? We live in a society of self-proclaimed “experts” in every field, but what truly makes an expert an authority? At Duck Commander, we believe that the difference between being an expert and an authority is foundationally dependent upon the consistent production of a quality product. Our duck calls are not the best in the waterfowl industry because we say so—Duck Commander is an authority, because other people recognize consistent quality.
I’ve often pondered the example of Paul. As recounted in Philippians, he was a Hebrew of the Hebrews—the cream of the crop. If anyone were to be known as an expert on the law, it was Paul. Possessing all the confidence of Pharisaical decree, Paul persecuted heretical believers and stood blameless under the lawful decree of a self-righteous religious system. He was the ultimate expert on righteousness under the law.
But Galatians 1:15-17 holds a hidden key to what made Paul cross over from expert to authority: “But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia…”
What made Paul an authority? Not his family, not his titles, but the time he spent in training, set apart with God. The Pauline epistles are silent on the length of time, but it is commonly believed that he spent three years in Arabia, learning and training under direct revelation of God. Interestingly enough, if this is true, it is the same amount of time that Jesus spent with His disciples during His earthly ministry. Paul’s time in Arabia was his way of earning his place alongside the other apostles as the thirteenth warrior.
When Dad started this business so many years ago, he never dreamed that the waterfowl industry would know his name.
A simple country boy from Louisiana, Dad wasn’t anyone special, but he had a God-given ability for duck hunting. From the very first time he went duck hunting at ten years old, Dad had an innate ability. He was set apart. His passion continued to grow for the rest of his life and turned into this amazing dynasty.
Over the years, Dad has refined the duck call into a specific instrument. All of us boys know exactly how a call is supposed to sound. Of course, there are varying degrees of natural ability in my family, but like a musical talent, it takes specific training to learn the proper sound. Duck Commander is an authority on what a call is supposed to sound like because of Dad’s God-given ability.
Stand Up and Be Counted
Another difference between an expert and an authority is the willingness to answer the call. In Paul’s case, he had all the pedigree necessary to be the expert on the Law, but the moment came when he was given a decision: follow Christ into a deeper ministry or remain caught up in legalism. When the rubber met the road, he was willing to follow. Ultimately, the call on the road to Damascus led him to become the penultimate authority on Christianity in the first century.
To become an authority, you have to be willing to step up when your time comes. Sometimes it’s a moment that’s recognizable, sometimes it's not. In our case, the penultimate moment came through a family fracture that drove Dad to his knees and brought about a full surrender to God’s plan for his life and business. Duck Commander exists because of a single moment of complete submission.
Over the course of our journey to becoming an authority in the waterfowl segment of the sporting goods industry, we have seen many roadblocks and pitfalls, but by faithfully following biblical principles, peace and clarity have prevailed. In every trial, God has given us the courage to stand upon our principles, the wisdom to make the right decisions, and the grace to maintain our testimony.
It Won’t Happen Overnight
Dad always said, “Don’t tell other people how great you are; let people tell you if they think you’re great.” The difference between an expert and an authority is the consistent recognition of integrity that comes only through years of experience. One of the best ways to become an authority is credibility: to work through years of doing what you do best. In our case, it took twenty years of proving year in and year out that we were the best at what we did.
People think that we are marketing geniuses. You’d be surprised how many people think that Dad has a doctorate in marketing (he actually has a Master’s degree in Education)! When Duck Dynasty became a megahit on A&E, people thought that our beards and bandanas were a marketing ploy. They’re not part of our TV characters; they’re our way of life. We are who we say we are. We have years of a consistent testimony of excellence within the hunting industry. We have proven our ability, established our excellence, and continued the quality of craftsmanship since the beginning of Duck Commander.
Ultimately, whether you start a business, make a lot of money, or impact society in a positive way, people remember what you do and the contributions you make. When you have Christ at the center of your life and ministry, when your moment comes to do something for Him, whatever it is, whether sharing the gospel with one indidividual or on a national platform, you have to step up and do it.
Long before God called us to be national ambassadors of the waterfowl industry and the leading authority on duck calls, we decided that we would stand up for what we believed, both in our professional and personal lives. It wasn’t always easy, but we always had the peace and clarity that comes from putting God in control. We put Jesus first.
In the end, Paul’s authority led to his house arrest and death, but here we are, 2,000 years later writing an article about it. It’s the power of longevity. Stand up and be counted. Authorities are made, not born.
TwoTen Magazine’s publisher Richard W. Hayes and writer Jessica Burchfield caught up with Alan Robertson in New York’s LaGuardia Airport while on a publicity tour for Phil Robertson’s new book, UnPHILtered (Howard Books). Interesting timing: Al recounted how his Dad had just finished an interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News Channel, in which he was given a chance to stand up and be counted. “Dad was thrown an 80 mph fast ball right down the middle,” said Al. “After a very controversial question regarding international terrorism, he quoted Scripture, then opened his well-worn Bible and preached. It was the perfect lead in to a succinct Gospel presentation on national television. Dad’s really a preacher; duck calls just made him an authority.”
By: Alan Robertson
Alan Robertson is the oldest son of Phil and Kay Robertson. He helped build the foundation of the family business, Duck Commander. Recently, Alan has returned to the family business after serving in full-time ministry for more than 25 years. Alan plays a vital role in the family’s commitment to spreading the gospel of Christ through their love of hunting and the great outdoors. Alan and his wife, Lisa, are parents of two grown daughters and proud grandparents to two granddaughters and a grandson on the way.