On May 20th, 2021, White River Marine Group (WRMG) announced the acquisition of legendary North Carolina-based boat builder Hatteras Yachts, in somewhat of a surprise move. With this purchase, WRMG also announced plans to expand the existing boat building facilities in New Bern North Carolina, promising a substantial investment to make the area a manufacturing mecca for saltwater fishing boats.
WRMG will relocate production of its iconic saltwater boat brands MAKO and Ranger Saltwater to the facility as they continue to support and grow Hatteras Yachts. The new shared home of Hatteras, MAKO and Ranger Saltwater will be a cutting-edge, modernized plant, and the focus for the Hatteras brand will be increasingly devoted to building the next generation of the finest sporfishing yachts on the market. Uniting the Bass Pro Shops family of boat brands with the Hatteras Yachts brand should mean great things for the offshore sportfishing world.
A major investment will be used to modernize the Hatteras facility and establish a state-of-the-art coastal manufacturing center. Plans include the creation of approximately 500 new jobs in North Carolina and an expectation to grow the state economy by $1.17B. The plant will also offer customers demo rides on the Atlantic Ocean and opportunities to tour the New Bern to become the new home for iconic center console sportfishing boat brands MAKO and Ranger Saltwater. It will also serve as an R&D center for sea-trialing and product development across all three brands.
Perhaps most importantly there will be zero job losses for Hatteras (or WRMG), and in fact the move will actually free up capacity at WRMG's existing manufacturing facilities in Miami, Arkansas and Oklahoma for additional fresh water boat production.
Johnny Morris of WRMG also announced a $1 million conservation pledge focused on North Carolina's coastal area, to be paid over 5 years, in honor of the legacy of dear friend Eddie Bridges who passed away this month. Mr. Bridges behind a lasting impact in North Carolina, having established the North Carolina Wildlife Endowment Fund and not-for-profit North Carolina Wildlife Habitat Foundation. The pledge awards several significant grants to conservation organizations actively working to advance wildlife and habitat conservation in North Carolina.
The grants are funded in part by the not-for-profit Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund, which unites millions of passionate boaters by inviting them to round up their purchases to join the company’s efforts as partners in conservation.
“This is not just a business investment for us,” said Morris. “It’s at the heart of who we are. Fishing, boating and conservation have been lifelong shared passions in our company, and we are grateful to our team members and independent dealer network members for their boundless enthusiasm and support. We are honored to be a part of the New Bern community. Our goal is to grow operations in North Carolina and expand upon the legendary foundation of the Hatteras brand and its incredible people.”
WRMG also took the time to announce that Lauren Good, a 12-year veteran of the company, would be appointed as Director of Saltwater Operations and will now oversee the new Hatteras Yachts facility. Lauren started in retail operations and held several leadership roles within the company before transitioning to manufacturing.