Luhr Jensen goes Finnish with merger

June 4, 2005

Phil Jensen, owner of Luhr-Jensen and Sons, announced Friday that his company will merge with a Finnish company, a move he said will enhance the fishing equipment manufacturer’s global distribution abilities.

Jensen said his firm will join with Rapala/VMC, a Helsinki-based company that makes a similar line of fishing lures and other products. Rapala/VMC has sales offices in 27 countries and manufacturing operations in Finland, Estonia, Ireland, France and China.

“This decision is based upon two very straightforward considerations: My time in life and my vision of the future of our industry,” said Jensen, 69, who has been with the company since he graduated from college in 1960. His father, Luhr Jensen Sr., founded the firm in 1932. The agreement involves exchange of company stock, and sale of some tools and inventory; the building and property remain Jensen’s property and he will serve on the board of directors of Rapala/VMC. (The merger does not effect Luhr Jensen’s smoker manufacturing operation in Oak Grove.)

The merger is in what is known as the “due diligence” phase, meaning the two parties are clarifying specifics of the agreement, which Jensen said he hopes will be finalized by mid-July.

Sales offices and certain manufacturing functions will remain in Hood River, Jensen said. Company operations won’t change in the immediate future, he said. Luhr Jensen anticipates a two-year transition period for certain manufacturing functions, according to Jensen. Jensen said Rapala’s distribution strategies, combined with his company’s knowledge of the industry — particularly in the western United States and Alaska — will bode well for the company.

“This satisfies my dream for the company heritage and for the future of the family name,” he said. “(Rapala) is a wonderful organization. I feel privileged.”

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