When Johnny Morris launched the Bass Tracker Classic XL over 40 years ago, it was, and still remains, an affordable aluminum fishing boat, even offering an “inflation package” of $2,000 off this spring. The boat has a devoted following, which includes a Facebook group with over 7,000 members. And White River Marine Group maintains a stellar customer service reputation, earning eight consecutive Customer Satisfaction Index awards from the National Marine Manufacturers Association for excellence in customer satisfaction in aluminum outboard boats, based on reviews from thousands of Tracker boat owners.
SBJ: What makes the Bass Tracker Classic XL a bestseller?
White River Marine Group: It’s designed and priced to make owning a boat accessible to everyone. This aluminum boat first launched back in the 1970s at an unheard-of price of only $2,995 for a complete boat, motor and trailer package – a bundle offering that had never been seen on the market. Today, the Bass Tracker Classic XL has become the bestselling fishing boat in America and Tracker remains committed to providing that same industry-leading value that helps families all around the world enjoy more time out on the water. The Bass Tracker Classic XL is outfitted with a Minn Kota trolling motor, Lowrance color fish finder and custom-matched Galvashield Impact trailer, so you can head straight to the lake.
SBJ: How did White River Marine Group get started?
WRMG: Tracker Boats founder Johnny Morris was born and raised in the Missouri Ozarks. In addition to founding Bass Pro Shops in 8 square feet of space in the back of his dad’s Brown Derby liquor store in 1972, Morris revolutionized the boating industry by introducing the first boat-motor-trailer package in 1978 with the launch of Tracker Boats. Johnny named the company White River Marine Group for the region he loves.
SBJ: How did the pandemic affect the boating industry?
WRMG: In 2021, following unprecedented demand for boating and outdoor opportunities in 2020, we expanded the Bolivar plant and doubled its footprint to 210,000 square feet, adding 300 new manufacturing jobs to the local job force.
SBJ: What’s the economic impact of producing boats in the region?
WRMG: Tracker Boats and White River Marine Group take great pride in the quality craftsmanship of the manufacturers here in the Ozarks. The company employs 3,200 people across the region, providing high-tech manufacturing jobs to the Missouri communities of Bolivar, Lebanon and Ozark, as well as Flippin and Midway in Arkansas. The company has also partnered with local career educational programs, including Ozarks Technical Community College, to grow the community’s manufacturing workforce.
SBJ: What’s the sales model and plan?
WRMG: White River Marine Group recreational and fishing boats, including Ascend kayaks, are sold in-store and online at Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s locations across North America, as well as through a wide network of more than 350 independent dealers around the world. Over the past several years, we have expanded dozens of Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s locations to include Tracker Marine Boat Centers that offer an extensive assortment of boats and ATVs.
Adrianna Norris became a first-time business owner with the opening of Finley River Chiropractic; PaPPo’s Pizzeria & Pub launched its newest location; and Huey Magoo’s opened its second store in the Ozarks.