By: Scott Way
The Bass Pro Shops affiliate boatbuilder, White River Marine Group, has purchased the iconic Hatteras Yachts brand. As part of the announcement, the company will be opening a manufacturing facility in New Bern, North Carolina with a target of adding 500 jobs to the surrounding Craven County region. The announcement was made by North Carolina governor Roy Cooper.
“Boat and marine manufacturing require specialized and experienced workers, and White River Marine knows our state can deliver the people they need to successfully expand their business in New Bern,” said Cooper.
“The marine trades are an important part of North Carolina’s heritage,” said Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders. “It’s great to see a company with the leadership and reputation of White River Marine choose our state for this important expansion of their company.”
White River will continue to produce a limited number of Hatteras yachts going forward, while the main focus will be the development of their highly respected sportfishing lineup. White River's existing portfolio of brands includes Tracker Boats, Mako, Ranger, Triton, Tahoe, Nitro, and Ascend kayaks.
As part of the deal White River Marine Group will also invest $35 million to update the New Bern manufacturing facility and will bring its existing Mako and Ranger saltwater brands -- currently built in the Midwest -- to the saltwater boating hotbed of North Carolina. The move will increase freshwater boat production capacity at White River's existing Florida, Oklahoma, and Arkansas facilities with zero job losses anticipated. Another key component is a 12-year Job Development Investment Grant from the state's Economic Investment Committee. The grant is expected to generate $1.17 billion in economic impact across the 12 year period. Bass Pro Shops also announced a $1 million conservation pledge devoted to wildlife and habitat conservation in North Carolina over a 5 year period.
Consistent with Bass Pro’s reputation for creating experiential shopping beyond its retail peers, the New Bern facility will offer customers demo rides on the Atlantic Ocean and factory tours. It will also serve as an R&D center for sea-trialing and product development across Hatteras, Mako, and Ranger brands.
“We are inspired by the many similarities between the pride and passion of the master boatbuilders from our home in the Ozarks and the legendary boatbuilders of North Carolina and the New Bern area in particular.... We’re committed to support Hatteras in staying true to its roots as a legendary saltwater brand built by a passion for fishing while expanding our operations to better serve all those who love the sea,” said Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris in a statement.
“This is not just a business investment for us,” added 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."
“With Hatteras’ rich heritage of craftsmanship and access to some of the world’s best offshore angling, our aim is to help solidify New Bern as the world’s capital for saltwater gamefish and boat building,” he added.
To see what White River Marine Group has planned for the New Bern facility, check out the video below: