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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
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    Message From Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris

    This is a letter released by Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris to dealers.


    Earlier this year, Platinum Equity, the Private Equity firm who has owned Ranger, Triton, and Stratos boat brands for the past four plus years, made the decision to put the company up for sale.
    Given the fact that Ranger is one of the most iconic brands in the marine and fishing industries, I felt it was important for us to carefully consider this opportunity.

    I have had the pleasure of knowing Ranger’s Founder, Forrest Wood, since the earliest days of his company’s beginning when we both fished together in the very first National BASS Tournaments. Over the years, like many others, I have come to know and admire Forrest and his wife, Nina, and the company they have built. Forrest and I have always treated each other with respect and as friends. We have also shared very similar views on how important it is for us to be personally involved in conservation. For many years we have been aligned in giving our time and financial resources to support conservation to help ensure a bright future for fishing, a sport we both love and that has blessed us both with wonderful career opportunities.

    After we were provided with the opportunity to take a closer look at today’s Ranger we became even more impressed. We were impressed not only with the company’s capable leadership team but with its outstanding financial performance. Forrest Wood’s son-in-law, Randy Hopper, has been with Ranger 40 years, serving as President/CEO for the past 25 years. Randy shared with me that he started at Ranger when he was 15 years old stating, “It was probably illegal, but I didn’t really care… to me it wasn’t a job, it was—and is—what I love to do.” Forrest’s grandson, Keith Daffron, is Sr. VP, and Head of Sales. Keith has been with the company 20 years - since he started working part time during
    summers. Getting to know Randy and Keith better through this process has been a pleasure and, as their reputation speaks, they are straight shooting, very savvy professionals who share a deep passion for what they do.

    Randy, Keith, and their team have not only maintained, but expanded upon the reputation for building extremely high quality boats that Forrest and Nina Wood originally created, and in the process they have developed a very solid performing company financially.
    The history of our two companies, Tracker and Ranger, reflect remarkably similar origins, with both companies being founded by fishermen on the famous White River and White River Chain of Lakes in the Ozarks. This special shared Ozarks history, along with my extremely high regard for the Wood family, were compelling personal motivators for me to strive to bring these companies together. Today, both companies remain headquartered less than two hours from one another and share what we believe to be very compatible cultures.

    The opportunity to partner with the Wood family is something I am deeply proud of both personally and for the significant business opportunity it represents to strengthen our companies.

    SO WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN TO EXISTING TRACKER AND FISHING HOLDINGS DEALERS?
    MOST IMPORTANTLY, WE BELIEVE THIS TRANSACTION HELPS CREATE ADDED VALUE FOR OUR CUSTOMERS AND CREATES ADDED LONG TERM STABILITY FOR BOTH THE BRANDS AND FOR THE DEALER NETWORKS INVOLVED!

    After being in the marine industry for over 35 years we have developed a first-hand appreciation for how vitally important it is for us as manufacturers to have financially vibrant, independent dealer networks to support our brands, sell products and service customers. Rather than sit on the sidelines and see Ranger most likely align with another competitor we were eager to invest further in an industry we are deeply committed to and which is very fragmented.

    This transaction gives our company additional scale and scope to compete more effectively with the many other companies currently competing in the fishing and pleasure boat industry.
    This transaction should make our company more efficient, increasing our buying power so that we are better able to compete and continue to deliver value to our retail customers.

    Fit and culture are also critical to us: Fishing Holdings is a great company with great people whom we know and trust.

    Both companies are dedicated to manufacturing quality products in the USA.
    Fishing Holdings and Tracker currently share several joint dealers and this transaction could result in future opportunities for dealers to carry additional brands. However, we want to strongly underscore we will be very cautious and deliberate about making any changes to an existing structure that is working very well.

    Your business is very competitive and we will continue to do our best to help you thrive and provide the strong support that you have come to expect from us. We appreciate your business and understand that there are a number of strong alternatives that we compete with for your business. For example, we appreciate that we face competition not just from fishing boat companies, but also from skiffs, sport boats, and pontoons, as more and more families have become “one boat” purchasers and are looking for a multi-use high quality product at a great value. We are highly committed to being our dealers’ preferred supplier by delivering innovative, high-quality, high-performance products that represent lasting value to our customers.

    All this is to say as a new investor in Fishing Holdings we believe the existing team of extremely capable and passionate individuals and proven independent dealers are the backbone of these brands and their future. Given the well-established track record of success, we do not foresee the need for, and will be very reluctant to make any abrupt or material changes in the way these companies are doing business today.
    Randy Hopper and Keith Daffron have long-term proven leadership skills and we are happy to share that they will maintain the leadership positions they currently hold with Ranger and Fishing Holdings. They will continue to oversee such key areas as dealer appointments, dealer support programs, marketing, and directing exclusively dedicated research and development (new product design centers) to create distinctly unique and innovative products for Fishing Holdings customers. Tracker will also continue to maintain its own independent design team to ensure distinct innovative products.

    In summary, we believe this transaction provides a solid foundation that will help bring about many positive, long-term, big picture opportunities for all involved. To be sure, we are fully aware that the independent dealer organizations which are currently in place serving Tracker and Fishing Holdings are the very best in the industry and in that regard are extremely valuable to the future of these brands. Going forward, we will continue to align significant resources to enhance the position of our collective brands and the dealers who represent them with a view toward achieving long-term success.

    We are grateful for your friendship and past support and look forward to a very bright future together.
    Sincerely,
    Johnny Morris
    Founder/CEO Tracker Marine Group

    P.S.—Scott Bauer, Vice President Dealer Sales, is available to discuss this development with you further and to answer any questions you may have.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~ Wishin I Was Fishin ~~~~~~~~~

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
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    time will tell...I hope it all works out for the best!!!!!

    flags and handlebars should never touch the ground!!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Huntsville, TX
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    So true, time will tell as it always does. I'm hoping Mr. Morris will do well by all the respective brands & perform his marketing magic to make them shine

    ~~~~~~~~~~~ Wishin I Was Fishin ~~~~~~~~~

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