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How Rapala is remodeling its global product development operation

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David Neill has become Rapala Executive Vice President in charge of the newly-created global Product Development and Innovation operation.
↑ The appointment of David Neill is designed to accelerate the development of products like the Rapala Rap V-Blade, launched this summer.

Rapala’s President and CEO has explained the reasons behind his decision to completely remodel the company’s product development operation. 

Nicolas Warchalowski, who was appointed in January this year, announced this week the creation of a new global role in the company, as well as a new appointment for Europe. 

David Neill, President and Managing Director of Rapala Normark in Canada for the last five years, becomes Executive Vice President in charge of the newly-created global product development and innovation operation, while Alban Choinier is promoted from Product Manager France to Vice President Product Development and Innovation Europe. 

Neill will manage Rapala’s three product development locations in Minnesota in the US, Helsinki, Finland, and the Asia Pacific (APAC) office in Singapore.

“The overall objective is to step up product development and innovation right across the company,” explained Warchalowski. “These appointments are the first and most important step in that direction.

“We have to make sure we are developing the right products and that we have better synergies between our three regional product teams and 42 units across the world. To do that we need to have one person in a fully global role.

“We have previously spread the operation across different markets. It has never been integrated into a global function like this before. David will use existing resources and will be adding new ones.” 

Warchalowski had hinted at his plans in an exclusive interview in the September issue of Angling International when he talked of the company returning to a ‘more aggressive growth track’.

“To do this, product innovation has to be centre stage again,” he told Mel Bagnall. “To win the consumers of tomorrow we need to up our game in product innovation. We have lots of pent-up energy to rally up behind our new plans.”

Warchalowski revealed that Neill had become his first choice for the job after meeting him in Canada earlier this year and being impressed with his track record of driving results in Canada and in his role as the key liaison with 13 Fishing after Rapala bought a 49% stake in the Florida business in 2019.

“He was by far my first pick,” he said. “In addition to product development skills, David has an engaging and modern leadership style that fits with the Rapala culture, and a very international mindset.”

Alban Choinier will relocate from France to Rapala’s HQ in Helsinki and begins his new role on November 1st. He replaces Matti Merilainen, who left the company at the end of August.

“Alban is very customer oriented and has strong product development skills,” added Warchalowski. “He had a strong career at Pure Fishing before joining Rapala, so he has two different toolboxes to call upon. It is a very important move that will help drive our products forward in Europe.”

Filed In: Product News