Ranger has merged with Triton. The president of PRADCO has stepped down. The fishing industry is doing flips trying to catch its tail. So what does it all mean?
Sometimes changes are confusing. Sometimes, like a double complete rainbow, it’s difficult to put things in perspective, to know what things mean (see below).
[dropcap size=small]W[/dropcap]ith earth-rumbling changes going on this week, we gathered FTR’s in-house industry experts to decipher it all.
President and General Manager of PRADCO Outdoor Brands, Ron Ten Berge, is out effective December 15. Ten Berge joined the company in October 2012 after five years at Yakima and four with Pure Fishing. The official release from ESBSCO, PRADCO’s parent company, is mum on the details of the breakup. Tim Collins, the freshly-coined CEO of EBSCO, who assumed his role in July, illuminated only that PRADCO has seen quality control issues under Ten Berge’s leadership.
“My number one priority at this time is to work to correct our systems challenges and to insure that we deliver hunting and fishing products to our customers in a timely fashion,” said Collins. “This is what our customers deserve and this is what we will deliver.”
The litany of brands that Ten Berge oversaw is mind-boggling. It reads like a who’s who of lure manufacturers in not only fishing, but hunting as well:
In fishing, REBEL, Booyah, YUM!, Lindy, Bandit, Bomber, Bomber Saltwater, Arbogast, Cotton Cordell, Creek Chub, Lazy Ike, Little Joe, Silver Thread, Thill, Smithwick and XCalibur. Add hunting brands Moultrie, Summit, Knight & Hale and Code Blue to that list and you not only begin to understand the depth of that task, but the powerful impact the position holds within our retail industry.
Whoever fills that role will immediately wield a vast amount of influence straight from the fishes mouth into the tackle shop and beyond.
And whoever fills that role will be taking the reigns of a company on the move. PRADCO launched a new, responsive website last Spring and followed up this Fall by acquiring Bandit Lures. Look for an internal candidate to lead the pack of candidates for that position. With so many brands under their belt, PRADCO has no lack of talent to choose from.
Bass Pro Shops is another monster altogether.
FTR Managing Editor Ken Duke had those most to say when asked about the Bass Pro Shops deal which brings rival boat manufacturers Ranger, Triton and Nitro all under the same banner. That merger sent shockwaves pulsing through the bass fishing industry and spawned blowback on social media, as you can see in this (WARNING) very not safe for children parody from BassGuys.com.
Brand loyalists on both sides of that debate are concerned about quality control under the Bass Pro umbrella. Evidence: our own Facebook post. Click the comments section to watch the action.
So, a lot of people are upset; even more are curious, and everyone wants to know the bottom line.
“This is another example of the industry getting smaller even as our market shows signs of recovery,” he says. “Bass Pro Shops now has the lion’s share of the bass boat market, and it will be interesting to see how they manage all those brands, create differentiation among them and grow their market share. Things have been tough in that area for a long time. Maybe a shakeup like this is what’s needed.”
Like it or not, Bass Pro Shops is a massive destination retailer. Their stores draw in visitors from hundreds of miles away, and their strategy of creating monolithic stores to draw customers in does not appear to be slowing. They’re scheduled to open a 300-foot tall megastore inside of a giant glass pyramid on the Mississippi River in late Spring of 2015. And Duke may be right—maybe, just maybe this purchase will kickstart the struggling boat sales market.
It could also have the opposite effect. That depends on how Bass Pro ownership handles interaction with independent retailers, especially those located in markets with said monolithic megastores.
For now, retailers, anglers and consumers will have to play wait-and-see on the impact PRADCO and Bass Pro will bring to this multi-million dollar industry in the months to come. But they won’t have to look far.
Thanks to the size and scale of both deals, the results—just like that double rainbow—will be right in their backyard.