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Bass Pro Shops’ White River Marine Group acquires N.C. boat company Hatteras Yachts

Updated: May. 21, 2021 at 11:47 AM CDT
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NEW BERN, N.C. (KY3/WITN) - White River Marine Group, the Springfield-based boat company owned by Bass Pro founder Johnny Morris, is acquiring North Carolina boat company Hatteras Yachts.

The announcement was made Thursday afternoon by Bass Pro Shops.

Plans call for a major investment to modernize the Hatteras facility and establish a state-of-the-art coastal manufacturing at a plant in New Bern, North Carolina, generating hundreds of new jobs.

“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.”

White River Marine Group is the largest manufacturer of fishing and recreational boats, by volume and its parent company is Bass Pro Shops.

The deal had been in the works for only about 45 days before the deal was finalized.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said the company is investing $35 million and will modernize the Glenburnie Road plant.

“It’s continuing on what has made this place legendary around the world, and that’s craftsmanship,” said Johnny Morris, founder of Bass Pro Shops. “From cabinetry, to lamination to everything involved with building fine quality boats, and being built by people that understand fishing and quality.”

The company said it will bring all of its saltwater offerings under one roof to New Bern. While it plans to grow the Hatteras brand, it will also relocate production of the MAKO and Ranger Saltwater brands to New Bern.

Hatteras Yachts is eligible for up to $5.4 million in a Job Development Investment Grant spread over a 12-year period.

The move means saltwater boat production will leave Miami, Oklahoma and Flippin, Arkansas. But the Oklahoma plant also builds Tahoe sport boats, and the Flippin factory builds Ranger fiberglass bass boats.  The company says The move frees up capacity to build more fresh water boats here in the Midwest.

“We are so excited, actually for Flippin and for Miami, Oklahoma, just because we are going to be able to probably hire more people, build more boats, and lots of energy around those two plants right now for sure,” says Cara Davison, White River Marine Group vice president of sales and customer service.

In a global pandemic, the company says the demand from boat buyers is greater than ever. Davison says, “People just started flocking to the water.”

Along with the Hatteras announcement, Bass Pro also announced a $1 million conservation investment geared toward enhancing North Carolina’s coastal habitats and furthering research to understand the migratory patterns of blue fin tuna and marlin. The investment is to honor the legacy of North Carolina conservation hero, Eddie Bridges.

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