Clearly there’s a lot of change going on at Ranger Boats. Depending on who you talk to, in the months since Johnny Morris took over the company a number of longstanding and influential members of the Ranger family have either been fired, encouraged to quit or otherwise excommunicated. While those of us on the outside don’t really know what this will mean, this kind of change tends to ruffle some feathers and create fear among the loyalists.
I don’t necessarily have a dog in this fight. I haven’t owned a Ranger since 1999 and I highly doubt that I’ll ever own one again. Nevertheless, I think that competition in the bass boat industry is good for all of us consumers, so a strong Ranger likely benefits even those of us outside of their immediate circle.
Whatever the company’s new execs do, I would strongly recommend that they follow the lead of their predecessors and keep alive the “Ranger Cup” bonus program. It may be the most successful marketing maneuver in the history of the fishing industry.
For those of you who don’t know, the Ranger Cup program allows the owners of certain Ranger Boats of a certain vintage to claim additional prize money when they win or place in eligible tournaments. It could be a Federation event or a BFL or an FLW Tour event, or anything in between, and the prize money varies depending on the size of the field and the perceived prestige of the tournament.
There are a lot of anglers who nicely pad their bottom line every year with a handful of Ranger Cup bonuses, but there are also lots of Ranger owners who will never sniff the first such bonus. I cannot begin to estimate how many of those people buy the boats specifically for the Ranger Cup eligibility. It is a tremendous selling point. Every year, a handful of anglers who are not consistently competitive at any level tell me that they are buying a Ranger expressly to be Ranger Cup eligible. Don’t get me wrong – a Ranger is a fine boat, and if you’re buying it because you like it’s quality or its ride or its layout that’s a legit reason to pull the trigger, but if the sole reason you’re spending substantially more than you would on one of their competitors is to have a chance at making a few extra bucks, you might’ve failed grade school math, or you might severely overestimate your talents.
Johnny Morris is not one to let a moneymaking opportunity slide by, so I’m sure he’s had some mid-level exec or intern write a memo to the file detailing the ins and outs of Ranger Cup, but if the recommendation is anything other than “keep it” or “enhance it,” that person didn’t do his job.