Making Sense of it All
By Luigi De Rose
The internet was a blur after Bass Pro Shop’s announcement that they acquired Ranger, Triton and Stratos boats last Friday. After the shock of the announcement, positive and negative reaction to this press release started to develop. Speculation is never a strong leg to stand on. Clarity will only emerge over time.
Here is our attempt to bring some clarity to this historic acquisition.
When Ranger bought Stratos and Champion boats a few years back. Fears were realized when Champion become redundant and was sadly axed. Stratos continued to prosper and soon adopted the Champion hull, which many felt was an improvement but scores of Champion owners were disappointed that their beloved boats were gone.
Time will be the most significant factor in the longevity of Stratos, Triton and Ranger. Ranger will rein supreme because it simply is Ranger. The other two boats might have rocky futures. If a decision to cull one of the two boats is made it will be made immediately or in two to three years. After sales projections and financial statements are securitized, a decision will be made if all three will continue. I feel that whoever lags in sales might be eventually be cut.
Tracker boats might not be in this equation because they’re an aluminum boat builder where the other three plus Nitro are all fiberglass. If Ranger broadens its aluminum boat production it might limit Tracker product line but only time can tell.
Another key question is which boat will be considered the ultimate Bass Pro Shop Boat? Will Ranger remain the crown jewel, followed by Nitro, Triton and then Stratos or will the Nitro boats be kept under a different category simply to run parallel to the other three? No one knows but it is a huge worry if I was an Elite or FLW angler waiting to make a down payment on a home.
How will the sponsorship and media dollars be spent? Anglers, tournament organizations and media sources will now have fewer doors to knock on when looking for money. This has been a steady trend in the fishing industry for some time. Only look towards Pure Fishing, Pradco and Normark for greater clarity on the issue. Mega corporations have many disadvantages especially for newcomers. Established anglers, TV shows and others in the media outlets might have the leverage to broker biggercontracts but it will probably be a feast or famine situation. When Pure Fishing developed their mega-brand company people feared Berkley, Fenwick, and Abu would fail but they didn’t. Fishing legends like Al Linder and Hank Parker rose to super stardom when they partnered with Pure Fishing. Anglers like Kevin Van Dam will continue to become mega-stars with potentially even better contracts but many second and third-tier or state contracts might be terminated as sponsorship dollars become centrally controlled. This problem might further compound if BPS becomes more influential in tour level events.
Outboard Engine Companies
One important discussions that didn’t immerge from Friday’s BPS announcement was the future of outboard motor. Are they coming to a breaking point?
Over the last two decades, it had become common practice for the factory to rig bass boats from bow to stern including the power source. Affiliations between boat and motor companies became strong and actually defined specific companies. In 2009, Skeeter boats developed their FX boat in support of Yamaha’s VMAX SHO engines. Ranger has an agreement with Evinrude (BRP) and so does Stratos. If you want either of these boats, you’ll likely be running an Evinrude motor. Could this possibly change?
The Ranger/Evinrude agreement might be in jeopardy considering that Mercury powers all Tracker and Nitro boats. If Bass Pro Shop continues to partner with Mercury, they might sweet the deal by including all Ranger, Triton and Stratos boats as well as Nitro. This would be a jackpot win for Mercury and a death sentence for BRP. Death would come swift and violently if Evinrude cannot find a bass boat company to mount it’s brand new G2 engine. Granted, the saltwater market is vast and lucrative but loosing the whole bass boat market wouldn’t benefit BRP or the anglers who look for them to pay their bills.
Part 2 Tomorrow. Will this be the end of FLW?