ORLANDO — Rapala has purchased a 49% stake in meteoric tackle company 13 Fishing, FTR has confirmed. According to Rapala, the deal includes the international distribution rights for 13 Fishing products.
“This process was over a year in the making,” said Rapala USA’s Director of Marketing Matt Jensen. “It gives us an opportunity to grow globally outside of the US. But inside of the U.S., it’s business as usual.” According to Jensen, Rapala will leverage its network to expand 13 Fishing distribution in key markets like Canada, Europe and Australia. By retaining 51% of company shares, 13 Fishing will still control final decisions on product development.
“It was critical to keep that majority,” said 13 Fishing President Jim Coble. “If you remove the majority share from us, you remove a lot of the passion from our guys. It applies a whole different coat of paint to the house, and it’s a different vibe and feel. In a lot of ways, we are still a startup company. We are seven or eight years old, so for guys to still be able to follow our passions and visions and keep it that way was essential. We wanted to keep that passion and creativity.
It was unprecedented to have a giant corporation even think to take a minority stake in a company. But how it came to be was this: we started pairing our strengths and weaknesses. Our strength is marketing, branding and pushing the envelope. We are the ones who look at this industry and aren’t afraid to have fun with it. We see guys buying rods and reels a lot like some companies see girls buying purses and lipstick, and we’re not afraid to say that. Their strength is distribution and growth.”
“They have a young, strong brand,” Jensen added. “We are big fans of 13 Fishing, and we see this deal as a win-win for both companies.”
“For us, it is the perfect marriage,” added Coble. “When I met the guys from Helsinki, it was pretty incredible. It’s been a long time since I found somebody who could be a real mentor. Those guys [Rapala] are really, really smart. They are a group I can really learn from.”
Last year, Rapala USA posted record sales; however, the iconic lure maker began to seek ways to expand its growth in international markets. By partnering with 13 Fishing, Rapala gains one of the hottest, fastest-growing tackle brands in America. Meanwhile, 13 Fishing gains access to Rapala’s vast network of international dealers. According to Jensen, the deal became final this week.