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Rick's Blog - March, 2016

Well... Today it's been one year since we placed the heritage of Bass Cat and Yar-Craft in the hands of Correct Craft. When it happened we were pressured by the rumor mill that things would change. Last year some of you met Bill Yeargin (CEO) at the Social on Sam Rayburn. That was less than 2 weeks after they had assumed their role as overseers of what our family has done. They have remained hands off and offered only assistance to this date. 

One first question many ask is how are Mom & Dad. Mom & Dad are fine and they have seen their health improve some over the last few months. They had a rough spot or two these last few years and things just eventually catch up with us all. Overall they are improving and it seems that they have some really nice things in their life. They enjoy the same deer feeding in the back yard, the dogs they love and life in general. 

For us at Bass Cat & Yar-Craft, it's now one year and in that year... sure some things changed. Before we go there let's talk about things that haven't. One year later we have not been asked one time to cut, reduce, save or scrimp. They have remained true to their commitment to us and you, allowing us to continue researching and bring the product forwards. There is absolutely not one new staff member from Florida. While my schedule has changed for several reasons, I still oversee everything in the same way we did before and make those same decisions every day as we did. Whether that is covering parts, warranty or anything else we have no restrictive input and no change in the manner we operate. Obviously things are going fine and everyone is ready to put the future in motion. We started 2016 with the 2095 BTX model in Yar-Craft and those out of the box concepts that we brought to bass fishing were started in walleye. We are ready to do more there than has ever been done and we are working hard to accomplish our goals.

From an sponsorship and advertising perspective the Bass Cat Invitational, Major League Fishing, Regional Bass Cat events, National Team Championship, Cystic Fibrosis, Arkansas Federation Nation and all are in play just like they were before. New is the Fisher's Of Men Tournament Trail and that certainly fits our mission in life. Fisher's of Men is always something we try to be and no doubt we all fall short of the one we live to respect this weekend. There is much more we have continued in a smaller scale and even more we plan to do. 

On a different scale we bumped up Quest in 2016, we enhanced the Collegiate Incentives, and we are working hard to complete the High School Quest Scholarship Program. It's been hard to complete with everything we have going on. Also we bumped up the Elite and FLW anglers with Andrew Upshaw, Seth Fieder, Jay Brainard, and more we may have overlooked, for example Adrian Avena crossed over to the Bassmaster Elites. We had three in the Classic and the guys are all off to a good start in the Elite Series. 

Some of you might want to drop in the area for the Bassmaster Elite event on both Norfork and Bull Shoals if your thinking about a weekend fishing trip. Bull and Norfork are both fishing very good right now. We are working with the BASS officials, MH Chamber of Commerce, ASUMH and the Mountain Home A & P Commission to assist Mountain Home in hosting the event. If your not fishing the Invitational you definitely should drop into town for this one. You can visit Bull then as they go fish on Norfork and vice versa. The schedule is Norfork Thursday, Bull Shoals on Friday and Saturday, then final Top 12 on Norfork Sunday.  It's going to be a good event! 

From an employee/staff standpoint we had a slight turnover as apathy arose. Now a year later that is behind us and we are stronger than ever.  The product will continue to evolve, new dealers, better financing for them, improved staff benefits and more are all on the horizon or in place. First we have to replace my sister (Dee) and we hired Cody Blair, CPA to fill the accountant and controller role. He has been really good! Cody is a local young man raised in Cotter and we are glad to have him. 

We are continuing the mission as we moved forward and we brought in Kevin Short for International and he is in Toronto right now. Our Australian and Japanese markets are expanding and things are opening up. After Kevin we brought in Jason Bragg for a National Sales Manager and he fills a role I was handling as the sales staff reported to me. Jason was with a competitive company and we were engaged prior to any changes in our competition since that time. Ivan is a wealth of  bass knowledge and he had been handling in house Bass Cat accounts and continues his role as Yar-Craft Brand Manager. He has done a wonderful job since we picked up Yar-Craft. 

Stuart continues to run the facility and we replaced our former parts manager with Lisa Jones. Lisa has a few credit hours remaining on an accounting degree and we have her commitment to continue her education. That was part of the agreement we dealt her. Mike Deflippo moved into Parts and Dispatching with Richard and Allan and we are moving right ahead growing our parts business, including advertising on Bass Boat Central. Another addition we made was Kyle Lowdermilk, who was our intern last summer from the University of Arkansas. Kyle was on the UA fishing team and we are glad to have him. Right now he's helping Stuart on plant efficiencies and working to clean processes up. We made a few adjustments in the office as we wanted to be customer friendly on the phone and moved Donna into Quest and Inquiries. Dealer referrals are important we have a way to go as we work to enhance that part of our operation. We have made great headway though we have a ways to go as we dive into the future. 

For me it's been a busy year. I've been to Las Vegas on business and trade shows, California on business with Centurion, Florida several times with Correct Craft and a few bass events, Wisconsin on MLF (watch the final show this week), Maine, Japan twice on trips, Korea, Australia, and many more places with distances less traveled. Places like Oklahoma, Texas, Alabama, Tennessee, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Georgia, Minnesota and more.  Then we also have been integrating our policies, insurance, personnel handbooks, safety, licensing, and more things than anyone can imagine. When this all went down we had a 57 point To Do list, of which all took time to complete. We are nearing final phases and we have the end in sight, finally! All while trying to meet the needs of yourselves and our dealerships. I am grateful for a wonderful staff and a group that is able to grab things and go.  

Just like the sister company of Nautique and the G Series (G21, G23 and G25) that rules surf and wake board events, they are behind us as we continue to use the best and build the best. Ralph Meloon is now 98 years old and continues to visit his office once a week. Greg Meloon is President of Nautique and just like that we are still here hammering away. After our situation added was Centurion and Supreme as those brands were brought in along with the addition of Rick Lee to the Board of Directors. The staff at Centurion/Supreme is still gelling as there were changes they faced we did not have to as Rick Lee, Erin McIlhatton and Clark retired from the company. We were able to stay in tune and remain just as we were with a more determined focus.

On new product we have a solid slate of new product outlined right into 2021 Model year for both Yar-Craft and Bass Cat. Things here remain active and we preannounced our intent to bring a Pantera Classic out in 2017. That along with some nice feature changes for Yar-Craft will move us further into bringing the product lines where we want them. 

Upcoming is the Owners Invitational and we are in process on a 7 state mailer of the pamphlet. Those of you close should have one in your box soon. If not then you can always register on line. We had this one handled by a mail processing company, so if someone receives a pamphlet for a departed loved one we apologize. In the past we hand stripped the labels of those we knew of and this year we bulk processed. Please forgive us if anyone inadvertently receives a flier. 

The Owners Invitational this year will have a demo day on Thursday out of Lakeview Marina. We will have the Jaguar and 400 Verado in the water, along with a Margay and new 115 Pro XS engine. We also will have the prototype Puma FTD with the Hybird Hull for those who were loyal to another brand as we morphed that experience into the Euro style hull of the Puma FTD  and Cougar FTD models. It should have a 250 Pro XS on the back and everyone interested please give us your opinion as we want to determine whether we bring this project forward in 2017 or end the efforts after the input. Those familiar with the ride and performance experience we are comparing to are certainly welcome to give an opinion and we will put a special post on the Owners Board for that topic.

2017 Excellence In Action will be in Mountain Home and after the dealer showing we are inviting all of you to come and ride on Wednesday July 27th. Hours will be from about 8:30 AM through 1:00 PM and we hope those interested can make the drive. 

We have a very bright future and we have a lot to be thankful for.

Everyone have a great Easter and remember, he is risen. 

God Bless, 
Rick Pierce