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Morrison's Lodge gets breath of new life

Rogue Wilderness Adventures owner Brad Niva isn't one to pass up opportunities.

So when the chance to merge his company's grand strategy with that of historic Morrison's Lodge, he took the plunge.

"We've been actively looking to purchase another company," Niva said. Instead, he and Morrison's Lodge have merged, with Niva serving as general manager.

Rogue Wilderness Adventures attracted 800 people to Southern Oregon for multiple-day stays last year and took another 2,000 on day trips, essentially getting as much out of its three river permits as it could. Morrison's Lodge, however, was bumping along the bottom, he said, using just about 20 percent of its allowable river capacity.

"We've been growing and growing, and capacity has been an issue," Niva said.

Putting the two operations under the same flag will double Rogue Wilderness Adventures' capacity, Niva said.

"Morrison's Lodge has been looking for a spark and to increase nightly stays at lodge," he said. "So it seemed to be a good fit. When it comes to economies of scale, marketing is a lot easier. Instead of two brands competing, we're just one."

Niva said the deal was worth more than $1 million. 

Morrison’s Rogue River Lodge, built in 1945, is an Orvis-endorsed fly-fishing lodge on five acres downstream from Merlin. The lodge has been running about 50 percent of capacity over the past 10 years, Niva said.

"They've been losing ground over the year, and this will allow us to take 1,600 people down the Wild and Scenic part of the river," he said. "We started having serious conversations last summer and closed in December."

Niva said each company has about 60 employees. Shannon Johnson, who previously worked at the Plaza Hotel in Ashland, has been named general manager for Morrison's, overseeing lodging and restaurant activity. Niva is general manager of all river operations and oversees marketing.

"The marketing plan we rolled out is already making a difference," he said. "Sales are already up."

Weddings are returning after a 10-year hiatus, and the lodge is again booking corporate conferences. A new front desk and bar are being built.

"We're going going full speed to be open May 1," Niva said.

He said he plans to remodel rooms in the future.

“Bringing the two companies together will enable us to build our reputation as a unique and superior outdoor recreation destination throughout the West,” said Niva, who continues in his role as president of Rogue Wilderness Adventures. 

More on Rogue Wilderness Adventures can be found at www.wildrogue.com or by calling 1-800-336-1647.

—Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31