Every year, for over more than 10 years, we have posted a State of Bass Cat, and now Yar-Craft. We go over where we are and what is going on in the market as we know it. This year is no different and this memo is added to those of years prior. It lets each of you know what we are up to and how we things are going.
2017 model year has entered and we are engaged in trying to grow our business. We have been diligent with dealerships as we have added about a dozen (12) to our list since last season. We have a potential to add another dozen or more in 2017. The market continues to sift dealers out of preference with competitive companies, as those are appearing in micro-management mode. After spring of 2015 there was speculation that we too would be under a corporate microscope.
We are now nearing 2 years down the road since our affiliation with Correct Craft. No matter what the naysayers verbalized 2 years ago, we’ve proven we are the same company as before, just more focused. By now we have proven that it really wasn’t an exit plan for myself, it was easing my aging parents of a potential burden in their 80’s. It also provides me an exit plan down the road when I am ready, though I am long from ready to pass this on. We did not sell off their stake to watch what we built change. We brought in a much more financially secure structure and one with a faith base culture and our values and one to help us continue the vision. One with room to grow our structure and remove future risks.
Many have made references to the size of our company. Often it was brought to the surface by the competition as they poked fun at our size, and made statements that if we were so great why were we not large? As a family company we made payroll each week for 45 years without a glitch, and that continues. It takes strong decisions and will to survive to manage this in our industry. We were small by design and that design is what kept us in business for over 46 model years to date. We will go down this road we’ve been before, though reducing risk was critical to survival at times like the late 1970’s through 1982. There was the 2000 season when OMC, Champion, Viper and others all filed bankruptcy. 911 was not the setback for financial failure, all of these failures happened before 2001 as Wall Street was already strapped. Then came 2007 -2011 and another set back, not quite as bad as the Carter administration financial crisis.
We were a “country bumpkin” boat company by our survival plans. We once called ourselves the “Farm Club” in reference to AAA, AA and A baseball. It seems many things start here and find themselves in other products. We are making moves in 2017 to not be a “Farm Club” and we never were a “Country Bumpkin” boat company. We had the best Customer Service in the marine industry 4 years running, we had Industry leading web sites, and a long list innovations that are found in other brands, these don’t come without know how.
At a boat show, after their 2010 failure, a competitive sales rep. was attempting to frustrate our representative. He was injecting that he didn’t know how Bass Cat made it with everything stacked against them from the marketing machine of Ranger and PE (Platinum). His company had restructured under new ownership after that bankruptcy. I offered that our representative missed an excellent opportunity to bring forward “apparently better than some”, since we never failed. That bankruptcy washed a lot of debt, letting PE buy in on the cheap. It was millions of dollars lost for Mercury Marine and others, and hundreds of thousands washed away for some other marine companies we deal with on accessories.
Now in the post-recession world there are new players in both of our markets, these started on the cheaps also with molds that came from failed companies before them. They have not seen those previous financial challenges, and definitely not with the overheads that some of those are building. We don’t know if their investors and owners have the financial fortitude and commitment to their brands. Commitment to make payroll and payments when the odds are stacked against them. The history and heritage of our companies proved it will do the right thing to navigate the next financial crisis, as we did.
This move was entirely to give the staff of BCB /YCB more security, it secured the brands and extends the legacy, building a longer history for these companies into the future. We want to build on the Pierce family name, and traditions of the Bass Cat & Yar-Craft families. Bass Cat is soon a 46 year old company and the legacy of Yar-Craft is now 48 years old, starting with Jack Dallman before us.
Our goal is to extend these runs for years to come. And as long as I am able I intend to see that this is exactly what happens.
The 2016 season was not a real banner year for us, we were very busy. We were focused on the integration and the consistency. The engine backorders put us way behind and dealers ran out of stock early in spring. Most were not ready to restock and we missed and entire sales period while they were out of boats. From the looks of things, this season will be busy also and we are trying to get more dealers involved in those 2017 programs which are formatted to auto stock. The program in 2017 should help keep dealer showrooms with enough options in boats to sell. Many of you commented on the lack of Bass Cat inventory in dealership and we intend to fix this going forwards. Why are there 5 brand Y boats and only 1 Bass Cat was heard several times this spring.
Yar-Craft was different in ’16 as the economy for the Dakota’s and Midwest was quite different. We did not run out of inventory and while we were busy, we certainly kept boats coming through the model year. This probably overstocked some of the Yar-Craft dealers and we are working hard to lower their stock as we enter fall and 2017. This has gone very well.
2017 brings us lots of opportunity and we are moving to enhance ‘Quest’ even more as we stretch out and sanction more events. We want to grant a few more events double up status. The rule of thumb for doubling the incentive is usually an entry fee of $250 or more. And don’t forget about the ‘Split Decision’ where you and your buddy can get 50% more money if you both have a registered Bass Cat. Many overlook this facet of Quest.\
We also have the Collegiate program for your children and grandchildren. We wanted to introduce the High School program, it was a more complicated initiation as there are state athletic associations which have regulate how we can reward those anglers. We continue to work on this program with hopes we can initiate it in 2017.
Recently we have found that several competitive boat owners are looking at options, and we are being researched as that option. We are there with products built from the very best materials. We continue to use Vinyl Ester on our Premium models, and offer it on all others as an option. The trailers are still USA Steel, PPG paint and the carpet is 24 ounce, while the main seats are all Syntec vinyl. That USA steel and 15” wheels are all things that the customer pays more for and most of you totally understand this.
Those customers from the competitive brands are looking for something that offers them a feeling of being a part of something. They felt that way before and they don’t yet understand our culture. They want a brand with uncompromised quality and a commitment to customer service no other has. Which is why we are announcing our new tag line “Total Commitment . No Compromise”. Sure we still “feel the rush” every time we crack the throttle, though these customers are looking for something to be a part of, a feeling most of you as owners have. They want the commitment we have to service and the fact is we do not compromise on any materials or quality of builds. We make mistakes, and we try to take care of them when we do.
At no time since the 1990 era have we had so many eyes on our products and so much opportunity. There are countless owners who are willing to reach out and try something else and they are considering our brands. We hope all of you welcome them in and be an example of the caliber of a Bass Cat or Yar-Craft owner. We work hard at this and you are a big part of getting our message out there.
We also made it easier on you and our family in 2017, as we lowered prices on the Eyra and Caracal with a smidge more affordability on the Jaguar. The Pantera II and Sabre FTD came in that line as we try to build more momentum on these two models. Then there’s the Nationally advertised Cougar SP.
We are pleased to continue our sponsorship of MLF into 2017 and MLF has hit the numbers and it is the #1 show on the Outdoor Channel and the #1 fishing show on television. Kudo’s to Jim and the group for producing the finest fishing show in a decade. They are starting to film now and they have exciting things to come.
Late in the season last year we were approached by Al Odum and his group, Fishers of Men. We added them to our sponsorships and we moved forwards to embrace their crew in whole hearted fashion. They had lost their sponsorship last minute and were in a tight. We came together and they even showed up at dealer meeting and spoke to the Bass Cat & Yar-Craft dealers on the tournament series. Al & Bob have a great group and we look forward to many years together. Our culture go well together and we are pleased to be a part of this organization.
The 2017 Bassmasters Classic is on Lake Conroe and we are extremely excited to be in Houston for this event. We are planning on the water demos all the Classic days, and we are reaching out to those in the area to come and visit us. We feel this is going to be the best and most attended Classic in history!
For 2017 Time slipped by us, as we missed the mark we set on completion of the Pantera Classic and Lynx. Today we are well into these and the Pantera Classic should be out in a few months, while the Lynx is set for that Bassmasters Classic to debut.
Now about the boats, the Pantera Classic is a 90” beam boat, a new hull with a wide deck. That extremely wide deck has a different floorplan. It is not intended to be the ultimate 19’ tournament rig, though an affordable platform for young adults and their first, and older guys to find easier to get around. It is made to fit garages and slip in where others won’t. The deck layout is unique and has an offset floor plan everyone should enjoy aspects of. The use should be more functional and the console is the same style Café’ II windscreen that the new Cougar Advantage has, thus a Helix 12 will fit. Fuel will be around 30 gallons and horsepower will be from 150 to 200. It won’t be the end all 19’ model, though it is wringing out extra costs to make this rig fit more budgets.
The Lnyx was only announced at Excellence In Action 2017, and no details were given. It will be up there in between the Jaguar and Puma FTD in price and we hope it exemplifies all that is Bass Cat. Lots of good stuff was in the hopper for ’17, the new 6X wheel, a volt gauge at the bow on Premium models (Option on others). The boot decals are standard and we added Bob’s Jackplates back to the options list. The new Cougar SP is a market for those reaching out that want the nice features. It has the Down Imaging and Side Imaging, along with Lakemaster cards and a couple of Power Pole Blades for those who want everything. We announced the Ultimate Dream package again with all the top end equipment for those Premium models and it has the SeaStar power assist steering. Then we introduced the Tiger Tank with in livewell oxygen and support to keep those fish alive all day.
There’s more like the General Tires, Stalker (Black) and Prowler (Aluminum) wheels, and we improved interior lighting with a new LED light bar in the storages on Premium models. Yes, that 3M tape coming loose drove us nuts too. On the color side we added a new clear with a pearl essence look, HK’s new Diamond Dust.
The Yar-Craft models gets the same Premium equipment and the new 209 TFX and 219 TFX hulls are tightened up to enhance that rough water ride. The inlaid stripe graphics are cut in with new boot line positions, and the 219 even has a place for the YC decal inlaid. There were a few other items though one of the cooler things is the new Boot Decal for Yar-Craft. The 2095 BTX receiving accolades for being an Innovative Design in 2016, set the stage for the next level. Down the road we will try to improve more on the 209 and 219 with fundamental cosmetics and something the walleye world is more familiar with. Those are down the road though as we have these two (2) new hulls for now. That and some new 24 oz. carpet and vinyl colors.
As we close the book on the state of Bass Cat & Yar-Craft, things are great! While we added a few new people for growth, we have the same crew here we have had for decades. Some of them are now well over 30 years here. Man what a statement, some of these folks have been building boats for many of you over 30 years! And we are glad to have every one of them!
Down the road there are lots of thing we want to change. One or two we have waited on in the post transition time frame. One I have long wanted to update is our logo in a fresh look, one that appeals to a younger generation of anglers. HumminBird did this with their “Angry Bird” logo. Never will the Bass Cat logo we created in 1983 go away and it will hang just like “It’s a Family Tradition”, “Feel the Rush!”,, “The Dry One”, that original 1971 Bass Cat fish, or today’s BCB, and that Yar-Craft logo is here for a while. Though just like the 2017 “Total Commitment . No Compromise” tag line, we have to move forward with new marketing and fresh ideas. While still embracing the culture we have, as the families of Bass Cat & Yar-Craft. Just like a blue oval logo has for lived on for decades, with Ford in the middle.
As we set out on 2017 we want everyone to know we are focused, we are the same company, and we have the same dedication to customer service that has proven to be unmatched. We will continue that trend and we are setting the bar higher as we move forward. We have so much on the table for the future and it is all very exciting. Most of this we can’t talk about yet, though it’s all good! No matter what year you buy a new Bass Cat or Yar-Craft... we are always going to make you wish you had waited just one more year.
Whether we can afford it or not, we all just want a 400R Verado and a Jaguar, or maybe a 219 TFX and 350 Vrod. We hope those boat owners of other brands get the chance to ride in these models. There is truly nothing out there like it, and most all agree. If they all say that about the Lynx, when it hits later this spring, it will be very exciting.
Thank you all for a wonderful 2016 and we hope 2017 is even better! We are doing our part!
God Bless and Good Fishin’.
Bass Cat & Yar-Craft Boats