Rapala USA, a member of the Rapala VMC Group, the world’s leading fishing tackle manufacturer, today announced the promotion of several company veterans within its management team. The longtime employees will take on elevated leadership positions to more closely integrate the company’s global product development, sales, marketing, and e-commerce strategies.
“We’re thrilled to promote these outstanding members of our management team,” said Tom Mackin, president at Rapala USA. “Each individual leads by example with incredible industry expertise and a dedication to innovation that will allow Rapala to continue to break new ground—and help anglers worldwide enjoy the thrill of fishing—for years to come.”
Known as the most trusted name in fishing since Lauri Rapala hand-carved his first balsa lure in 1936, Rapala VMC Group provides best-in-class lures, line, and more to 140-plus countries worldwide. In their new roles, the promoted Rapala USA team members will work closely with their international counterparts to build upon past successes and improve coordination of the company’s unified global efforts.
“Rapala’s success is built on the uncompromising standards of our founder, Lauri Rapala,” said Lars Ollberg, chief operating officer at the Rapala VMC Group. “These veteran Rapala USA employees embody his spirit and passion for fishing and will play a key role in utilizing the company’s global resources to provide anglers everywhere the best products possible.”
The promotions at Rapala USA are a continuation of Rapala VMC Group CEO Jussi Ristimäki’s ongoing efforts to strengthen the brand’s position as a leader in the global fishing-tackle business by evolving the company’s international organization.
The notable Rapala USA promotions include:
- Rick Billings, vice president of operations since 2005, has been promoted to vice president of product development and operations, a function that will give Billings greater influence in the design and production of the brand’s best-in-market angling gear as he works closely with legendary Chief Lure Designer Mark Fisher, a Rapala USA team member since 2000.
- Zack Swanson, an employee since 2001 and current vice president of sales, will also take on the role of general manager at Rapala USA. Building upon his sales expertise, Swanson will play an instrumental role in guiding key U.S. initiatives.
- Matt Jensen has been promoted to director of marketing. Jensen previously helped grow key relationships with retail partners as a regional sales manager. Jensen has worked with the company since 2004.
- Travis Tuma, previously a successful regional sales manager, will enter a new role as director of sales. Tuma joined the company in 2005.
- Bob Bussey, S. creative director since 2000, will take his keen eye for design and memorable branding to the international stage in a new role as global creative director.
- Dustin Butler, a senior art director at Rapala USA, will step into a leadership role as U.S. creative director. Butler joined the Rapala family in 2003.
- Bonnie Hockin, head of U.S. e-commerce since joining Rapala USA in 2012, will now lead online sales on an international scale with the new title of corporate vice president of global e-commerce and digital marketing.
- Gregg Wollner has been promoted to corporate vice president of global projects. An employee since 2004, Wollner formerly served the company as head of U.S. product development and general manager.
Rapala was unofficially founded in 1936 when Lauri Rapala invented the Rapala fishing lure and has grown from humble beginnings to become a market leader in the fishing tackle industry. The brand’s functionality and high quality are known by anglers worldwide. Rapala maintains its strict standards of craftsmanship while delivering its fishing products to anglers in more than 140 countries around the world. For more information on Rapala, please visit rapala.com or facebook.com/RapalaUSA.