Bass Pro names new president for boat division

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Bass Pro Shops said Monday that Les Crawford is the new president of White River Marine Group, which until now was known as Tracker Marine. Crawford succeeds Bass Pro President and Chief Operating Officer Jim Hagale, who led the division along with his other duties since 2009. Hagale will stay with Bass Pro, working with the retail side and merger with Cabela's.

Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris started Tracker Marine in 1978. The company says it's "the number one selling fishing boat brand in America." Its brands include Tracker Boats, Sun Tracker, Nitro, Tahoe, Regency, Mako, Ranger, Triton, Stratos and Ascend.

News release from Bass Pro Shops:

White River Marine Group, the marine manufacturing division of the Bass Pro family, today announced that marine industry leader Les Crawford has been named President. Crawford brings a deep knowledge of the marine industry and White River Marine Group including extensive familiarity with its industry-leading boat brands, strong personal relationships with many long-term independent dealers and an appreciation for its state-of-the-art manufacturing processes.

The new role brings Crawford back to the company, where he previously served as both controller for Bass Pro Shops and Executive Vice President at Tracker Marine for a decade beginning in 1984. Today the White River Marine Group offers an unsurpassed collection of industry-leading brands including Tracker Boats®, Sun Tracker®, Nitro®, Tahoe®, Regency®, Mako®, Ranger®, Triton® Stratos® and Ascend®, and is the largest manufacturer of boats in the world by volume.

“We are very excited and proud to welcome back Les to lead our thriving marine manufacturing division at an exciting time in our history,” said Bass Pro Shops founder and CEO Johnny Morris. “In addition to his familiarity with our brands and widespread respect within the industry, Les understands how vitally important the independent dealers are to the future of these brands and our company overall, making him uniquely qualified to lead White River Marine Group boldly forward into the future.”

Crawford has had a distinguished career within the marine industry. In addition to his time at Bass Pro and Tracker Marine, he served as Division Vice President at Genmar Industries, leading the company’s freshwater boat brands before later becoming President of its Wellcraft Marine Group. Most recently, Crawford served as President of Lowe Boats in Lebanon, Missouri, overseeing all aspects of the operation comprising manufacturing, marketing and dealer relations including Cabela’s.

“I’m thrilled to be rejoining the Bass Pro family to lead the world-class team at White River Marine Group, which in many ways feels like coming home,” said Crawford. “White River Marine’s leading brands are unparalleled in the industry and I look forward to fostering their longstanding reputation for performance, innovation, service and value.”

Crawford was born and raised in Mountain Home, Arkansas, just 15 minutes from the Ranger Boats headquarters in Flippin. He has a long-held appreciation for the Ozarks and its array of quality fishing amenities, including the White River for which White River Marine Group is named.

Crawford’s appointment offers Bass Pro Shops President and COO Jim Hagale the opportunity to focus primarily on the company’s retail division and integration with Cabela’s to unite two leading outdoor retail operations. The acquisition is anticipated to receive final regulatory approval in the third quarter of 2017. Both Crawford and Hagale will report to founder/CEO Johnny Morris.

End of news release