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Ranger Boats CEO sees ‘strategic fit’ with Bass Pro Group

Ranger Boats will continue to grow after the Bass Pro Group acquires the company, but there are no plans to expand the plant or relocate operations.

Ranger president and CEO Randy Hopper said Bass Pro Group’s plan to buy Fishing Holdings LLC — which includes Ranger, Stratos and Triton — is a definitive agreement, but not a done deal yet.

"Last week, we announced that Bass Pro Group was buying our company, and we're really excited about that, to be honest. It's a strategic fit here, we believe," Hopper told The Baxter Bulletin, noting that both companies grew up in the Ozarks. "As far as that in itself creating an expansion, it probably doesn't, but we're already in a growth mode. We're hiring people now and we expect to continue to do that. All of our folks are very excited about it.”

Ranger employs about 936 people at its manufacturing plant in Flippin, Ark., and brings in two Arkansas State University Mountain Home welding classes for training. Hopper estimates that the company has 25 job openings.

"We're going to operate the business from right here, independently, with the same team," Hopper said as he gave a tour of the facility. "Part of the mystique of our product is where it's built, and the tenure of our people is unprecedented, unparalleled in this business."

Two industry giants, Ranger and Bass Pro, share competition that's lasted for more than 40 years. Ranger's founder, Forrest Wood, and Bass Pro founder and CEO Johnny Morris share strong support for fishing as a hobby and a sport. They once competed together.

"I think Bass Pro was interested because, obviously, we've been in the business going on 50 years," Hopper said. "We know each other as competitors. Johnny Morris and Forrest Wood actually fished together years ago in the same tournament. There's an appreciation for both sides, I believe, and we've been friendly competitors for many years.”

Hopper also said there is a network of roughly 200 Ranger dealers and more than 100 Triton and 100 Stratos dealers. Ranger is known internationally and has customers in countries such as Japan, France, Italy, Australia and Russia.

Bass Pro Group is based two hours away in Springfield, Mo., and has 90 U.S. locations, including Springfield, Branson, Mo., and Little Rock, Ark.

Bass Pro Group announced Dec. 11 that it was planning to buy Fishing Holdings LLC from the Platinum Equity Group.

Bass Pro Shops communications director Tammy Sapp told Trade Only at the time that the deal was expected to close in the first quarter of 2015, and she said that until the sale was finalized, there were no plans for how to market and sell the individual brands.

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