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Gone Exploring: A Brief Story About Me


 Sandberg's situation illustrated by a cartoon

This past November I counter-steered, leaned hard and carved into a major career change, becoming a marketing manager at a bicycle parts distribution company in the Twin Cities.

For the first time since 1994 I am no longer working on projects for Arctic Cat. For the first time since 1992 I’m NOT working from home. And for the first time since 1989 I don’t have an official job in the snowmobile industry.

To say it was a hard decision, or that it’s been strange these past few months, would be massive understatements.  

I carved this new path for a lot of reasons, but the two biggest were that I wanted a job where I worked around people, and I wanted to learn some new skills. I’m happy to report that I’m getting both. The company is awesome and my boss is a former Arctic Cat employee!

I’m sad to report that it’s meant I can’t post here like I used to.

I knew this would happen when I accepted my new job, of course, but I just didn’t anticipate the extent of it. Throw into the mix two kids in high school, being involved in a couple organizations and being a high school bike coach, and my fuel tank is running on empty for doing much else. 

Change...can be tough. And good. And scary. And where it eventually leads, we don’t really know.

There have been so many changes at Arctic Cat the past 2-plus years. So many!

From a near bankruptcy to being purchased by Textron. We now have people who are new to the sport, the industry and our brand make major decisions that have deep consequences.

Some of these decisions I can support. Like paring down the 2020 model line while battling a still massive carryover of non-current models.

Some of these decisions I can’t support. There are great, talented people who should still have a job at Arctic Cat. There is one person in particular who should have an official role at Arctic Cat for as long as he wanted, or until the lights went out for good (and if was the company's lights that were going out for good, then this man should have been the last to touch the switch).

Regarding the future of Arctic Cat, I’ve heard lots of rumors and speculation from people inside and outside the company. I don’t know what’s in store.

I do know there are still tremendously talented and passionate people working to design, test, build, sell and service the next generation of Arctic Cat machines.

And I also know that at the very of core of Arctic Cat – the very center of it all – is the passion of riders like you. I am so grateful to you for coming to this site and sharing your passion for our brand.

Thank you.

This site will remain. And I will continue to post when time, er, life, allows.

I still have some great stories that are SO in need of sharing, like Dimmerman getting one of Elsner’s Sno Pro sleds out of Sweden, Tom Rowland inadvertently landing a remarkably historic ZR race sled, some friends of mine who right at this moment are riding Arctic Cat’s from Grand Rapids, Minn., to Churchill (on the Western edge of Hudson Bay), and more. Give me some time, they'll arrive.

I’m looking outside my window as I write these words, the last bit of sun setting on a horizon that has more snow and more snowmobile tracks than it’s ever seen in the 17 years I’ve lived here. It’s a magical world out there.

Let’s all enjoy it for what it is. And do some exploring.

Thanks for reading.

Sandberg's situation illustrated by a cartoon

Comments (91):

Can Dan says:
3/4/2019 11:32:00 PM

First of all, congratulations on being brave enough to start out on a new endeavor. Its not an easy decision, I know.(especially at your /our semi advanced ages.). It is a sad feeling I have, learning you will be less involved with your great site. Yet as I flip back through all your top notch reporting, great photos and wonderful story telling. A wave of happiness crashes over me. Excellent work John..............Get off the bike once in while and get us some news or maybe some of those inside stories. Thanks again
Darin says:
3/5/2019 3:37:00 AM

Yes, congrats on your new employment opportunities,
I can't imagine all the mixed emotions that you and your fellow co- workers have been going through at arctic cat.
It's sad times for what is happening there,
With the take over from textron.
Not sure if it will ever turn around and be the same.
We can always hope,

I am so happy and relieved that you will continue to keep this site going for the arctic cat faithful!
We love to read the info. That you share with us about all things arctic cat !

Even if u can't keep it up to the same level as you are known for,
We understand,

Looking forward to your next story and so on!
Take care and thank you,

kevin sebastian says:
3/5/2019 5:50:00 AM

Thank You John! Best wishes in your new career path! All I can say about the Man you mention is I feel blessed to have met him shake his hand, and feel his passion. I continue to bleed green.
Maindihar says:
3/5/2019 6:28:00 AM

Thanks for sharing your passion with us.
CATMAN says:
3/5/2019 6:40:00 AM

Thank you John for years of great write ups.I rank you with C.J. Ramstad, 2 great people with great stories & pictures and always willing to talk when seen at events.
Great Luck with what lies ahead.
Todd Ulschmid says:
3/5/2019 7:36:00 AM

John, man.... Changes. That's what life will bring... I can only imagine all the emotions involved.... Like stated in a previous post, you're very much like the legend, CJ Ramstad. One thing though, you're John Sandberg. You've paved your own trail in this sport/industry. I want to thank you for all you do/have done and I'm glad I've had the pleasure of spending a little time riding with you and hope we can ride, again! Hey, congratulations on your new adventure! Best wishes to you and your family. Cheers to you!
j butler says:
3/5/2019 8:31:00 AM

Thanks for the update and your new employer is luck to add you as a employee.When dale L invited me to join him on your legends ride a few years ago, I had a great day with great people. If you get time to ride up in our area, give me a call. thanks again john.
Blaine Kotasek says:
3/5/2019 8:45:00 AM

Congratulations on your new Venture. Thank you for all the articles that you've done. Always and still proud to have Arctic Insider on my sleds.
catman says:
3/5/2019 9:14:00 AM

Great to hear you are doing well John. And we wish you luck on your venture. I think it's safe to say we all agree with your sentiments. It's pretty sad when their are people that have built this brand and who are the face of this brand that are no longer there, including you John. Textron may have gave Cat a breath when the cards fell 2 years ago but they really have not a clue what kind of company they truly have. And truth be told if we go back even further, I would place some blame on the Cat Board for hiring two CEO's that were worthless for the future of Cat, which ultimately led to Textron's inquisition. It's water under the bridge but it's worth remembering cause that's where its gotten us, right here and now. Textron I sure hope you take notes because for every comment here there are thousands of Cat enthusiasts thinking the same thing. My suggestion is, next Hay Days, it's about time these Textron people start hearing from us first hand. This is our brand and it's about time we stop being quiet about it. They need to hear from us in every way, social media, emails, phone calls. We need to be the change. John, we wish you the best!
Bob V. says:
3/5/2019 9:20:00 AM

Congrats on the new job ! Looking forward to the Dimmerman and Rowland articles.
Todd Olson says:
3/5/2019 9:25:00 AM

Cat man very well said!We need to start to be the change we want! And thank you John for all you do Keep it up because we are all listening.
Jeff says:
3/5/2019 9:31:00 AM

Thanks John for always keeping us informed.
One thing I can’t understand is how they supposedly “near bankruptcy” before Textron when just a couple years prior to that they were cash flush, zero debt and even had the funds to buy out the remaining Suzuki shares.
Something doesn’t add up. Could the warranty claims on the 2012 pro cross cost them to loose that much $$$$?
Jon Carlson says:
3/5/2019 9:48:00 AM

John... Your tireless enthusiastic contributions to Arctic, insisting all of Arctics stakeholders being informed, documenting and respecting the legacy of such a historic brand is testament to your passion. You have a great opportunity now to be candid and transparent with the power of the have earned the respect in this industry to write freely. A brand must be cared for and polished daily.....preserving brand history and challenging anything that may hurt the brand is good stewardship! I look forward to your continued special perspective regarding Arctic. Remember the customers, dealers, and employees built Arctic. Management and ownership are only place holders in Arctics history.
Greg Spaulding says:
3/5/2019 10:21:00 AM

John. I wish you the very best in your new venture and want you to know your not only a great story teller and writer, or as we would say up here in da nort, "your really good ta write" but most important your just a really good person. Hope to see you around sometime and visit.

Your friend
bill christianson says:
3/5/2019 10:49:00 AM

John As a 35 year Dealer of Arctic Cat i'm so disheartened by tour disappearance from posting on the site but understand completely your decision I also advertised on your site. Im very troubled about how this companies direction is going and watching "family" being let go and pains me My last day of business is the end of this month It was enjoyable for many years but no more Good luck on your new career Thanks for so many years of great content and in person conversations
Magnus Andersson says:
3/5/2019 12:07:00 PM

Thanks John for all great inside articles
Good luck on your new venture
So sad to see whats going on at Arctic Cat
i have a bad feeling about this , i hope i am wrong .
Wayne Tweten says:
3/5/2019 12:46:00 PM

I wish the best for you John in whatever the future holds for you in your new job. I am certain you will do a great job there.
I truly appreciate what you have done for CAT & CAT fans worldwide through your Insider website & other ways.
I agree that our friend should be the last man there. It truly sickens me that they could treat a CAT legend that way.
I thank you from the bottom of my heart John for the many years you have served CAT fans with your wonderful postings here.
I look forward to any more you get time to post. This is the only website i check every day. I look forward to a day when I can meet you in person!!

Tyler says:
3/5/2019 2:43:00 PM

Congratulations on the new gig, as a person who came to cat in the last ten years this site helped me fall in love with the product and the people like yourself and many others behind it. It helped you develop a different and better connection with the brand. I'm happy for you and hopefully this site can still live, its my favorite snowmobile page, its almost as biased as some of the magazines. Thanks for your work!
Hawk doran says:
3/5/2019 3:39:00 PM

All you cat guys. I,be been on cat since my 72 cheethe 440. TEXTRON needs to have the balls to step up to the plate and address all our questions about the letting go of very fine people who built arctic cat and the future of our arctic cat snowmobiles. WTF is going on here? Was that bull**** last yr when Textron told us the future is brite for arctic cat? TEXTRON- you owe us the honesty of telling us the truth. Get off your ass and address this “****”. I am not happy- TEXTRON,!

Kevin Hooper says:
3/5/2019 5:15:00 PM

Congrats John on your new career - from reading your comments, it's clear the change in your life is in a positive direction and the future is bright! It's also clear by hearing the comments made in recent days that we have a lot to be concerned about at Arctic Cat. A lot of goodwill and optimism that came with the Textron acquisition of AC has already been lost. IMO Arctic Cat does not enjoy a strong reputation from many consumers, and the dedication of many core die hard AC owners that has been tested since 2012 hasn't been resolved. We have a lot of uncertainty right now and a parent company that really seems out of touch.
tom mahon says:
3/5/2019 6:12:00 PM

I forget how I discovered ArticInsider, but it always reminded me of what makes winter great all year long. Its the search for the white gold.
thank you John,,,
Jason says:
3/5/2019 8:24:00 PM

Thank you John for all your dedication to this wonderful site. It is sad to think of all the change taking place at Arctic Cat. I grew up on Cat and worked at a dealer through high school and tech school in the late 80s and early 90s. I think there were 8 dealers within an hour of home and now we have one. Change was needed but they ousted someone that welcomed the people of Textron and was the heart and soul of Cat.
Ken says:
3/6/2019 6:17:00 AM

Congratulations John on your new venture. I know it can be hard to start a new career. Thanks for all the great support of us Arctic Cat fans and the great articles you have given us. I have met and spoke with you at all the Walk for Wishes, Hunter's, and Cat events and I appreciate the time you gave me.

I'm pretty pissed right now and I'm not sure how this will end. I've posted my comments on the "Wish List" article about my feelings on Textron. I truly feel that you and the others including Tucker saw the writing on the wall when these idiots, Textron, took over. Now all you great people are gone.

The hardest part of this, is the great people, Roger, Kirk, all the other Cat legends and you that are no longer associated with Cat. It truly breaks my heart. The hardest is Mr. Skime. "It's not a job it's my life". Textron took this from him even when he told them this at the beginning when they first walked in. I will never forgive Textron for this. These jerks, Textron, took away the 50+ years of passion that Edgar and Roger created to make Cat what it came to be. They instilled the passion, love and loyalty of Cat in me for these 50 years. Textron took that all away. Not sure about my future with Cat now after all this. It's going to be hard to get past this.
Glen Mallory says:
3/6/2019 8:10:00 AM

John all I can say is thank you for your incredible hard work and dedication. We've exchanged emails on occasion going back to your time in Cat's Pride and my work with Charles P. and the VSCA. Holy moly that was 20 years ago. Time flies, things change, sometimes not for the better. You don't owe anyone anything. Your writing will stand the test of time. You are the Pat Bedard of snowmobiling, the David E. Davis of the sled internet. Class act all the way. Ride on....
Scott says:
3/6/2019 12:06:00 PM

John thank you for the update, myself and others where wondering what the lack of updates meant. I am not sure I have anything more to add that others have not already said. I thank you for what you have done and I look forward to what else you might be able to provide for us. I love your road trip stories, the fork lift trip was GREAT.

As for Textron, we (maybe just me) want to thank them for giving Cat a chance to survive. But some of what they have done since is just unbelievable. KICKING some of the core people to the cub, why because thier paychecks where a little large. I am purely guessing if these guys where approached and told we need to trim the budget can we reduce your hrs and check, I am guessing these guys probably would have been willing to work something out. But now many of the faces of cat are GONE!!! All in an effort to save a few dollars!

My 3 and 7 year old know who Tucker and Kirk are. They know what Articat is! Last year my 7 year old wanted a a Tucker jacket, now he wants a FXR jacket. I asked him a couple weeks ago why and he said Articat is not doing good (we watch the snow cross races).

Sad sad times, I hope things recover but I personally have my concerns.

Thank you John, Roger, Kirk, Joey and all the others that made this brand that we all love ONCE great!
Cat Dr. Jason says:
3/6/2019 3:56:00 PM

Congratulations on the career change. I have read your posts for years and never commented. I grew up as a 3rd generation Cat rider. My family started riding cats in 1970 (39 new sleds in the family alone over the years). Our fourth generation is riding them today. We know the Great Hibbert family and were blessed to talk with the Passionate Mr. Skime many times at the race tracks. The kid’s even named our new black lab Tucker, because Tucker has been their hero and he signed everything we ever had while sitting on his lap. It pains a lot of us what is happening to “our brand” and the people “that’s passion” kept it alive all these years. I hope that the new owners understand the passion that keeps Cat riders coming back before it’s too late.......Best Wishes for you and your family John! Thank You for the great reading.
MNSnoPro says:
3/6/2019 4:39:00 PM

Truly bummed to hear this news but excited to see you at the MTB races this summer. Glad to hear you're able to find refuge in another industry that you're passionate about with a fellow cat guy. You will soar there as you have here.

I hope Textron keeps a handle on the pulse of Arctic Cat and what makes it's customers so passionate about their products. Market share is one thing, not everything. The recent name change in the Off-Road side back to Arctic Cat seems like they're listening. Let's stay positive they'll recognize the great history of Arctic Cat so our grandkids can share our same passion as well.

Happy trails and best wishes on exploring John. Make tracks...
artdcat says:
3/6/2019 6:26:00 PM

I went thru Arctic Cat shutting down in the early 80's, watched a lot of my grade school friends move away. I didn't understand the impact at that time until I started working at Arctco in 1986. I was employee #409. I spent almost 30 yrs in the industry, left it 6 years ago as I saw what I believe is the demise on the horizon. Sucks to see Textron bring down an absolute icon. What's next? A repeat of 40 years ago??

Let Textron know how you feel folks.
Ericsno says:
3/6/2019 7:26:00 PM

Stop blaming textron if they hadn't bought cat no one else would have ,they have to make changes cat lost market share for 15 plus years in a row . Cat built to many sleds every year that nobody wanted and shoved them on dealers who couldn't sell them , the line up has had way to many models for the last decade ,the 4 stroke sleds don't sell well cat has enough left for 2 or more years of 7000 models and they have enough holdover mtn sleds nobody wants .textron is at least trying something different I will be ordering a 20 8000 rr ,I have 4500 miles on my 19 8000 rr just slightly burnt belly pan.Cat should have brought new people in a decade ago.
Les P says:
3/6/2019 9:16:00 PM

Thanks for all you have done over the years. Good luck and happy riding. I hope I can ride with you again. I'm so proud to have a Arctic Insider sticker on my front door. You know what I mean. We have a great group of Green Blooded people and no one can take that away from us. Thanks.
Justin says:
3/6/2019 9:39:00 PM


Thank you for everything you have done with this site. The content has been outstanding since you launched this thing. Your posts have always been insightful, thoughtful and entertaining; they have always reflected what we love most about snowmobiling and our hobbies. You are passionate and clearly, one hell of a good human being. God bless you and your family....I wish you all great health and happiness.

As for Textron, well, there appears to be a lot wrong with how certain “issues” have been handled. All too corporate and what appears to be an unfortunate lack of understanding of this brand and it’s customer base. You can make all sorts of excuses for bad behavior, and you can always find a way to rationalize and justify a bad decision. But right is right, and wrong is wrong. It’s really painfully simple.

It’s not economics that propelled Henry Ford and countless other visionaries to unfathomable success. It was sheer will and above all else, passion. The folks at Textron, who are now the stewards of this brand and it’s legacy would be very wise to reflect on this for a little while. They might not care enough. They probably don’t, and if that’s the case, there is no excuse. That is unacceptable.

In closing, I want to remind everyone of the “BRP” story. Like this iconic brand, Ski Doo was once on the brink of extinction not too long ago. It was revived by a group of extremely intelligent, but more importantly, extraordinarily passionate people. The brand was literally, in their blood. The rest is history.

There is always hope. Keep the faith.
Eric Bergstrom says:
3/7/2019 12:55:00 AM

I'm really very happy for you John. Thanks for sharing your infectious, and often goofy, enthusiasm with us all over the years. You have been a master at telling the story of the brand for which there is no substitute, and the people who built it.

Your perspectives and story telling strike a chord with anyone who's ever been excited to go on an adventure aboard a machine built in Thief River Falls - and the person you are "behind the scenes" is even better.

You always made your readers feel like true Arctic Insiders. As sincerely as I can possibly say this - Thank you!

Robert Hozdish says:
3/7/2019 10:11:00 AM

Cheers to you John!! Thanks for all the years of incite into the inner workings of AC. Good luck to you in your new endeavors and I hope and pray that the Arctic Cat snowmobile brand survives!!
Auggie says:
3/7/2019 3:47:00 PM

Good luck John on your new venture :).
Mike Mattson says:
3/7/2019 8:17:00 PM

Thanks John for all of the great years of giving all of us Cat fans the best possible web site of all the snowmobile brands. I have looked at your site almost every day for many years and have enjoyed all of the articles about new products, plant news, race results, interviews with the Team Arctic legends, etc. Good luck in your new job and I hope we can get together again sometime.
Mark Falso says:
3/8/2019 6:55:00 PM

John, congratulations on your new employment. I am concerned about Arctic Cat and how Textron treating. This is common today companies comes in and clean house or get rid of brands in order to get profits similar to an investment firm would do. That is sad. This is similar to what those investment firms would do to other businesses.

For me, I was born just after Arctic Cat began manufacturing and drove old family sleds in 1969 when I was already age 5 so when the Kitty Cat came out during first year, we got the sled in the family. This is where our loyality began with Arctic Cat as two other brands folded (We had the 69 Fox Trac and 70 Ariens Arrow) I loved the Cats. Even wrote letter to Arctic Enterprises in 74.. got a hat, a patch.. thanks for that! Then wrote again in 1985 after I did a design research (am a Freelance Transportation Designer) and people wanted that Z name back and hammerhead cowl like the 70s so I wrote and viola, they came out with the Prowler.. then the Z name.. You guess it. I may have had some responsibility for the hammerhead cowl design and name.

Because of snowmobiles I grew up with, that brought my passion to design vehicles such as snowmobiles, automobiles, recreational vehicles, etc.

I did not have that kind of money to start up own brand but I am always and still is always ahead of all brands both dead brands and the Big 4 brands. I cannot tell you what I have designed. But I can tell you that I came up with forward seating back in early 1990s. Before Ski Doo. I did come up with high travel in 1975 for my 1978 model year. Yes I have my own "brand" line up. It is now 75 different models. Bascially a dozen different platforms but all different engine sizes, suspensions, etc. Yes, I still have that old classic leaf suspension sled in my lineup. If Had the money... I would have bought the Cat brand then manufacture both Arctic Cats and my brand and I would have kept all the Cat brand names like the Panther, El Tigre, Cougar, Lynx, Puma, Pentera, and more.

I cannot explain deeply about my own design because it is not built and not patented--yet. too expensive. Let me say this way.. got a lake racer type of sled, a sno-pro racing sled, a trail sled, a Manta/Trail Roamer-type, a cross over, a 2 up, a snow-bike, a kiddie sled similar to Kitty Cat, and yes, a secret I cannot say about the type of children sled.. that all brands are missing.. hee hee. a twin-tracker, a classic (leaf suspension), a high performance sled, a covered sled (you all remember the 70s Ski-Doo Wedge snowmobile? Also a hybrid, not a crossover, a hybrid that mixes between a snowmobile and a road tri-bike kind of like a Ski-Doo Spyder.. Ohhh.. I am telling you some stuff I should not say! Hahaha. OK, I need to shut my mouth.. Sorry folks!

Arctic Cat should have been smart.. should have acquired other recreational products such as an RV company. it goes in hand to hand with that as well as a marine product and should have bought OMC. Not BRP! Grr. Well, maybe they should have bought Mercury. Should have also bought Harley-Davidson motorcycle company although we all know HD is feeling the same as the Cat at the moment. I was not happy with name dropped such as the beloved Panther, Pentera, and other names. yeah, its my fault that I said the Z in 1985! But I did not mean to say to get rid of all the names. Just for a model name Z! They are now using as ZR.

I was really hurt to hear those greats were fired ("let go") I am now approaching my 50th anniversary of being a designer (first one I did at age 8 then immediately after that, I did drafting for someone at that age!) Now you can tell how old I am. When the Cats factory lights out, I am out too.. retiring.

OK.. enough of blah blah talk.. Take care John! Thank you!

Dave Guenther says:
3/9/2019 9:15:00 AM

Hey John...had to read all the comments and let it settle in for a day or two before I responded... you have been such a breath of fresh air with Arctic Insider, you have done such a great job with this website and hopefully you can continue, congrats on your new venture, we first met at Edgar's funeral, in Grand Rapids , you have done an outstanding job keeping people informed, as for Cat lets just hope that the ship keeps sailing , I agree with the others, how d you not keep the icons of this industry and sport and this family company on.. Im still in bewilderment on this.. I own Thief River and Roseau Minnesota sleds for many reasons, mainly because a family has a career here in this state and a job and are an important part of the economy of this state, because of these companies I lived and taught in a small town of Karlstad during the dark years of Cat in the early 80s . I saw how it effected the communities , families, the kids and the economics of those small communities... lets hope things keep upbeat and hope for best for our loyal fans out there.Take care my friend stay in touch
Scott says:
3/9/2019 10:10:00 PM

I was watching the snow cross races and one of the sport class riders thanked Kirk and Roger, no idea if these guys are still working with the racers today or if this was just a thanks in general.

Don’t want to take the light away from John but any one have any idea about Kirk, Roger or even Tucker today?

And it was tuff to watch the rain today.
Paul Nadeau says:
3/10/2019 1:19:00 PM

Hi John,
You certainly picked the right Calvin and Hobbes to describe your new future and all of the challenges and excitement it will create for you. I am sure that you spent many a night thinking about this new challenge along with some very long discussions with Mrs. Sandburg. Congratulations and the best of luck as you start a new phase in your and your family’s future!
So many comments and thoughts about the future of Arctic Cat and Textron, all for another column.
Again congratulations and the best of luck! Looking forward to your usual exceptional stories about Arctic Cat and maybe you can share some of your new adventure along the way!!
Mike F says:
3/10/2019 1:29:00 PM

@scott Kirk is still helping a number of Jr riders out of his own shop. Roger is still at almost all of the XC races. Same old wonderful Roger. On a positive note there is snow up the wazoo in northern MN. Epic sledding conditions.
Once a Cat says:
3/10/2019 5:39:00 PM


First of all, thanks to John for a great website, best wishes for your continued success. A week hasn't gone by in the past 5+ years that I didn't check in to read the posts. This is even as I left the AC brand several years ago (9 of my first 16 sleds puchased in the past 25 years were Cats). My businesses allowed me to work with the good folks at AC and I was so very fortunate to have Edgar Hetteen as a mentor - a real thrill. However, things do change. The facts are that the recreational vehicle business has become very competitive and complicated - the market has changed dramatically in the past 5 years, let alone the past 35. The die was cast in the 90's and early 2000's when AC leadership was late to market with key products - they usually did what Polaris did, only 5-7 years later and with less impactful products. I'm not here to say that AC products are inferior, that are not - they're good and I would be happy to own one again. With that my final point is it's time to move on, enjoy the products that they do offer - if you so choose, and be appreciative for the rich history of the brand. The choice is yours.
Bobby Flame says:
3/11/2019 5:13:00 PM

Eat Sh!t Sandberg.
Paul Nadeau says:
3/11/2019 7:18:00 PM

Bobby Flame, Please take your totally childish comment someplace else! This is not the place!
sorry about this John, not the place for this type of comment! Keep up the great work,
What say you fellow Arctic Insiders?
kawcat says:
3/12/2019 11:45:00 AM

Very sad to hear there letting you and everyone who has made Arctic Cat go. I understand things had to change and could not stay the same but this is defiantly one of there BAD DECISIONS. You where one of the best promoters for the brand and where always a positive influence. I understand there reasoning for sled orders this year but there advertising has been terrible along with there new site. I hope they learn from there mistakes like the atv branding and listen to the dealers and customers. The lack of communication to consumers is not helping and putting doubts into everyone's heads what they are doing with the brand. Wish you the best of luck in your new endeavor!
PS Would be interested to see a list of everyone let go. wondering how deep this went.
Paul Hein says:
3/12/2019 5:31:00 PM

I'm honored to having met you, worked with and ridden with you.
I wish you the very best in your new endeavor! Hopefully we can stay in touch and get out riding again at some point. Best of luck !
Paul Hein
krom says:
3/12/2019 7:46:00 PM

@Kawcat, the list of who is still there would be probably be shorter, than the list of those who left. Also it seems that those who are still there, aren't happy
chuckbrown says:
3/13/2019 5:17:00 AM

Sad to see the site go. There's been a lot of good content here. Good luck in your new endeavor. Textron's buyout has brought a ton of changes to Arctic Cat in the past couple of years, some good, some bad. But they're learning and I know they're in it for the long haul. Did they need to buy Arctic Cat? Absolutely not, but they saw potential there to turn it back into a profitable business. Snowmobiling is not as popular as it once was and business has to evolve with that. You can't keep doing the same thing for years and years and expect to remain profitable. Shoving sleds that don't sell down dealers throats year after year does not work. So yeah, you're going to disappoint some customers by not offering a certain model anymore but it had to be done. Arctic Cat dug their own grave, Textron's trying to dig them out. That's how I see it anyway. Peace out John, happy trails.
3/14/2019 10:20:00 PM

Well John...As they say, hindsight is 20-20. IMO, the writing was on the wall for Tucker to retire last spring already. His major Arctic Cat support was his father and of course, Roger. As far as Arctic Cat's future, not sure what to say from all the gossip out there that I read everyday. Textron / Arctic Cat has a different approach for selling their 2020 sleds. People say how foolish is that. Well how foolish was the monorail Alpha sled that people said would never work. The other snowmobile manufacturers have the same issues with left over sleds from year to year and that has gone on for years. Textron's strategy for 2020 maybe the way to go for the future sales to clean up on some remaining leftover sleds and 2021 may have a different approach.

I make a motion to enter John into the snowmobile hall of fame from the many years of devoted Arctic Cat news and stories that we all loved.

As far as Bobby Flame.... it's better to remain silent and be thought of as a fool than speak and remove all doubt !

Hope to see all at HayDays and god bless.
Randy V says:
3/15/2019 10:53:00 AM

I second the motion to add John to the Hall of Fame. That's a no brainer
94ZR580 says:
3/15/2019 6:37:00 PM

I too, miss the regular postings and updates from John. Congrats on the new chapter in life and I hope this place will continue, along with Arctic Cat. Cheers from up here in Blairmorganville.
dave beito says:
3/16/2019 9:37:00 AM

It has been a pleasure knowing you and working with you the last several years. We had many good rides together.Best luck in your new endeavor.
Randy Bedard says:
3/16/2019 5:06:00 PM

The first time we met was at the Schwinn bicycle shop you were working at back in 1983 or so. I was in picking up a new Schwinn Tempo (still got it). You recognized me from snow racing. We chatted and have been friends since. As a Sled Brother, I have been following your stories for years and have admired your dedication to your work. You should be dang proud of the trail you broke open and the cool path you laid down that has been fun to follow. Not many people have had the success and respect you created in your chosen field. Congrats and best of luck to you and your family.
John Sandberg says:
3/16/2019 11:36:00 PM

Thanks. To all of you. I appreciate the thoughts and words more than you can possibly know.

A couple of housekeeping items:

1. This site isn't going anywhere. It contains a crap-ton of information that I want to keep accessible for a loooooooooong time.

2. I will continue to post here. I promise.

3. Bobby Flame is my good friend Kale, who's instruction that I eat some turd is simply an inside joke. It's all good.

This place and the great dialogue that lives here is DEEPLY important to me. Thanks for bringing yourselves (and your thoughts) here!
Rodney Dragan says:
3/17/2019 10:45:00 AM

Sooo... I've been sitting on the sidelines digesting this turn of events. I must say, (ahem..) I am thankful for getting to know you and also for your deep regard and respect of the way our little decrepit group the F.H.U.C.S.T.I.C.S. operates. Things change over time and like you, our group has changed over the last 15 years. Just like many of the snowmobile groups that I belong to, whether it is the A.S.C.O.A., or the N.E.W.L.B.V.R., or one of the local clubs that put up the trails, it's not about the sleds, it's about the people involved. You brought a certain type of enthusiasm to the Arctic Cat brand that you don't see in a product of any kind in today's world. I am very enthused and look forward to logging into RollfastInsider. Everything that a person needs to get their 60's single speed Rollfast up and running along with SearsFreeSpiritInsider and J.C.HigginsInsider. I hope to see you sneaking through a parking lot with your bedroll this September during the Haydays extravaganza. I wasn't offended by Bobby Flame. He fits right in. Someday maybe we can get together and burn a brat and enjoy a few brewskis. Do you have any streamers for my Huffy Cheater Slick? Purple in color please.
Glad2BGone says:
3/17/2019 11:38:00 AM

First, best of luck to you, John, in your new endeavors!

As a former(thank goodness)dealer, I would agree with catman regarding Metz and Jordan, both bull**** artists with zero regard for the company. However, I would have to lay a good bit of blame with Twomey and the board for getting "dumb, fat, and happy", and being more interested in dividends than keeping up product-wise. As much as I dislike Polaris, they innovated, and accelerated away, while ACAT fiddled. This layed the groundwork for failure. I won't delve into the dealer side of things, but let me say that the way dealers were/are treated is despicable.

Many years ago I was a dealer for another brand of equipment owned by Textron, and I watched as innovation stopped, quality control was completely disregarded, products were relabeled to sell in chain stores, and the whole enterprise was driven straight into the ground. Don't be fooled by the airplanes and helicopters BS. The absolutely clueless EZ Go idiots are in charge all the way, and that is a heap of not good.

Remember Roger Skime tearfully speaking about the "Gone Fishin'" period? Sadly, I think it's time to organize and restock that tackle box.

Best Regards to all the Arctic Cat faithful.
K Hofland says:
3/18/2019 7:20:00 PM


All the best in your new adventures. Also a huge thank you again for posting my story of Arctic Cat a few years back. It's still talked about at some gatherings. You will be missed, but you are your #1 priority, and I will always continue to come here and read articles from many years back. I too, am in favour for inducting you into the S.H.O.F.

CAN SOMEONE PLEASE confirm if Roger was one of the one's who no longer works for Arctic? since reading it has bothered me and some sort of update would make all of us feel better.

Thank you!
Bulldog says:
3/19/2019 11:11:00 AM

I always like it when you did your "Things you need to know about the (enter model year here) Snowmobiles". Any chance you could fill us in on the changes made by AC for 2020? Most of us are wondering why they made the changes they did to the 800 C-Tech motor and if there will be any noticeable difference between it and the 18/19 motors? I know your not employed by AC anymore but I'm sure you have some intel on the new motor. Please share if you can.
Browndogg says:
3/19/2019 2:48:00 PM

Feels like the end of an era.thanks for everything.I just sold everything and am retireing from the sport.Will always be interested though.
Arctic Fan says:
3/19/2019 8:12:00 PM

K Hofland,

I can 100% say that Roger is one of the ones who was fired from Arctic. He was notified before Christmas, and his last day was the end of January. Textron did have a part, in that they were the ones who gave the number of people to cut, but it ultimately was not Textron personnel who made the decision to put Roger off.
Tom P says:
3/19/2019 11:15:00 PM

Thanks John for all your hard work on a great site. I've read your articles for many years and this is the first time I'm commenting. I've owned Cats since 1972, the first being a 1970 Panther 634. From that sled on I was hooked owning a total of 24 Cats to date. My wife and I went on a Cat's Pride ride to Yellowstone and rode with C J Ramstad and we also attended the 50th anniversary in 2012. Needless to say my blood is green. That being said, I'm dismayed by the negative comments about Textron by some Cat faithful. In my opinion they should be given more than two years to turn the company around. I find it hard to believe they would purchase a company for 249 million and 100 million in debt just to lose it all. I just hope they're listening to some of the good ideas that people bring up on this site and they become more transparent on their future plans so they squash the rumors that aren't true. I want my grand kids to grow up to ride and love Cats as much as I do. P.S. I talked to two Cat employees at the Sno Cross races this past weekend in Lake Geneva. One with 24 years and the other with 30 years and both were very upbeat about the future and said it's still a great place to work. They also mentioned that Rodger still shows up every day.
I Bleed Green! says:
3/20/2019 6:23:00 AM

Tom P. Well said. I have had that same thought since day 1. Things won't change overnight, and while the cuts are hard to swallow, there is a reason why Arctic was in trouble. Some of it had to do with the decisions made by many of those who are now gone no doubt. Give Textron time to turn it around, if they don't then i guess we will know in 5 years or so.
Joe Rainville says:
3/20/2019 11:25:00 AM


First of off I want to say "THANKS!" for entertaining and informing all of us Cat enthusiast for so many years. Made a lot of us feel like we were walking next to you during factory tours or standing right there while you were interviewing Roger Skime, or on a road trip with Dimmerman and Rowland.

I wish you well on your next endeavor, sometimes change is good and brings you rewards you never though were possible. I do hope you continue to write here, and as I said before, I credit you for helping me to find my own 'voice' in writing, and being an inspiration for doing so.

So, good luck, thanks for all you have done, and thanks for all the 'insider' words...

-Joe Rainville
Dave Good says:
3/20/2019 11:26:00 PM

Thanks John, keep us posted on what's happening-best wishes to you. I agree with tom P and BleedGreen, changes don't happen over night. I'm not gonna knock Textron for some of their decisions as i am not privy to all their inside workings and what needed to be done to make corrections- whether we think it was wise or not. I am optimistic of the future from where I'm standing- joint deal with Yami, and deals with CATERPILLAR and Tracker. Think of what the alternative may have been without TEXTRON.
Jim Dimmerman says:
3/21/2019 9:52:00 AM

I was angry when Textron said they wouldn't need your services any longer. That unique transparency that the Insider brought to all of us, not necessary any more. Wow !
John Sandberg, what can I say..Every passion has their exceptional writers, John is ours. What a great story teller.. I mean a GREAT storyteller ! He's a good friend and mentor. My respect is off the charts.. Your inspiration helped me to scribble a few of my litterbox tales to share with you all. Thank you John sincerely.
I have no doubt you will succeed in this new venue.
Arctic Cat had a unique approach to marketing. I believe it started with Cat's Pride and the Arctic newsletter way back in the 70's. They felt a need for transparency about the employee's input into the product. By sharing it with the public, it would bring the consumer closer to the passion. Faces with names of Arctic personnel became buzzwords with the Cat customer. Slowly but surely the consumer identified with people like Skime and Hetteen as well as most of the engineers and design teams. How many other companies have personally introduced you to the peoples of their internal divisions; Engine, drive train, styling, testing teams, production lines,special events personal, clothing designers,and of course race teams? We all felt we WERE INSIDERS. In my opinion, that's why Arctic Cat was so successful. That's how they grew their loyalty. John's creation of ArcticInsider is the cyber version of Cat's Pride. It also gives the ability for the reader to speak his opinion in writing. Forum interaction is huge today. I can't see this sport without it. I know there are tons of people that read the "Insider" and never write a word,and that's ok. They come to fuel their passion for a few moments a week. John brightens their day.
Arctic Cat made lots of mistakes along the way, but there were lots more significant innovations that are milestones today. This last mistake had brought them to there knees once again. We were all there watching it happen. I believe they thought they were doing the right thing, trying to position the company for the next decade. But it didn't work..I remember only to well the emptiness that filled me 38 yrs ago when Arctic closed it's doors in bankruptcy. Sure I felt sad that I had lost my dream job as a Team Arctic race driver. But as the time went on I felt worse about all my friends in Thief River that lost their livelihood. That same feeling has returned...How does this new leadership plan to move forward ? It appears at the start their going to obliterate anything that's old !.
Textron:. After the purchase they made some early cuts in personnel. All of them were my friends. I was angry. Then I thought about it a little more and realized a new deal has to be implemented. The sport has changed and so should the business model strategy.
What they didn't do was come in and liquidate it, like last time. We need to give it time to let them play their hand. Roger Skime left a lot of good people there.They just need the right direction. Certainly we're going to armchair their moves but we are talking about a HUGE company here with great resources. How do you sell 50 million dollar Cessna business jets? I doubt they would use Orville and Wilbur Wright in their ad campaign. Maybe 'Old' Arctic is not going to cut it with the next generation of buyers. We're not privy to the big picture. All we can do is watch and wait..
Shawn Hopkins says:
3/21/2019 9:40:00 PM


I commend you for chasing a new path. I did the same thing a couple years ago. From retiring to getting back into the same career path but changing locations twice. This current organization is the best by far I have ever worked for. Change is scary and exciting. The Good Lord has plans for us and leads us to where we need to be when we really need it.

Since Racing ended for Megan and our Team, I have only made it to 1 Haydays and 1 race. The first year I was lost. Psychologically it was very difficult on me. I have however focused on my new job and am loving life again. I have returned to some prior passions and am restoring some old MX bikes. I will always love snowmobiles, but physical issues prevent me from riding without pain, So for now I have 14 great years of Memories in Snocross and Team Arctic.

Sometimes we leave the spotlight and the hustle bustle, but we are always still there. I appreciate all you have done over the years and will look forward to the times you have to post. However. As you know your kids grow fast. Spend time with them and love and live your life. We all know just how fast that can change. We learned that again very close last fall when my youngest daughters close friend was killed in an ATV crash at 12 yrs old. She was always at our house growing up so it hit home extremely hard. Spend every minute you can with family and don't apologize for it.

Your a great man John and have always been a great friend as well.

God Bless and take care.
Eric says:
3/26/2019 4:11:00 PM

I wish you the best in your new endeavor and THANKS for all the good reads you have provided!
I guess we will have to just wait and see what happens to Arctic Cat and when it will be sold. Textron Inc. has made so many changes in its corporate identity over the years it is more or less known as an investment company do to the fact that they have purchased and sold or closed and wrote off so many companies. Even though it has ruined so many companies it has, however, consistently earned a profit for its stockholders. For that reason, many investors may not care what it does so long as it keeps generating a profit for them.
Don W says:
3/26/2019 8:08:00 PM

Best of luck at QBP, going to miss all the great insite on the new iron.
Maybe textron will come to their senses and one day bring you back to the inside!
Wish Roger the best, they should have handled that situation far better and allowed Roger to at least leave gracefully.
I’m hopeful textron will allow Arctic Cat to bring back the Boys from Thief River days but that maybe asking to much in These internet driven times.
Take Care neighbor
Steve says:
3/28/2019 2:49:00 PM

Eric you hit the nail on the head with your comment about Textron last time I checked the were divided into 135 Subsidiaries. I believe the last business they just up and closed was Dixie Chopper as they shut down production the end of February.
Arcticbuster says:
4/1/2019 3:21:00 PM

April 1st will not be the same again as your annual column column for this date are long gone...

I looked forward to them and the comments of those who didn't realize what it day is was posted on.

Your announcement with Calvin and Hobbes leading the way blended the humor of Bill Watterson that can now be seen in your April 1st yearly posts.

You often mentioned CJ Ramstead and I too saw the familiarity of your writing to his, both of you could capture the inner feelings of the reader and bring them along for the ride.

Best of luck in wherever life takes you.

Bobby Flame says:
4/10/2019 10:39:00 AM

Dudes! Someone is posting as me! That is so rad! Is Arctic Cat really going bankrupt? Are they having a liquidations? No one ever responded about how to join the Black Cats. Where is everyone going to go since this site is dead?
Glad2BGone says:
4/15/2019 8:58:00 PM

Well, at least what's left of Arctic Cat has outlasted Irv The Liquidator...
TP says:
5/14/2019 8:53:00 AM

Textron is a cancer. One only needs to look to the boys in Roseau to know this. Polaris management saved the company from Textron. Homelite brands wasn't so lucky. Cat is on borrowed time. I wish all the best for a bright future. The sad fact is that with current economic and climate changes we are facing, we may be seeing the end of the sport. Hard to see a iconic brand in trouble. Like most, i started on Cats in 1970. But like all things, time moves on.

As for Irv....they have his number. They just haven't called him yet.
Slimey slime says:
5/14/2019 6:16:00 PM

Irv the liquidated murdered his wife and did himself in last month
TP says:
5/15/2019 7:39:00 PM

Then they call Sid if Irv is gone. One way or another, someone will do the job.
jj says:
6/5/2019 5:24:00 PM

Well a lot of dealers are getting terminated now, so for those that liked going to a small dealer and are brand loyal get ready to start traveling.
Glad2BGone says:
6/23/2019 4:17:00 PM

No surprise they would purge dealers that have not already figured out what's on the horizon, and bailed on their own. The irony is they have ignored, abused, and now disposed of the very dealers who have known what the company needed all along, and who kept the brand alive through sheer determination in their local markets. It's a testament to the fierce brand loyalty of smaller, especially one-line, dealers that they have hung in there for so long, as it has not been profitable to be an Arctic Cat dealer for quite a while. In fairness, Arctic Cat was notorious inside the industry for mistreating their dealers with convoluted, one-sided programs and requirements long before the Textron carpetbaggers slithered in, like the snakes they are.
jj says:
6/28/2019 7:03:00 PM

Just wait till the sleds are at Bass Pro Shops. Maybe this is why cat dealers are being terminated. Straight from a Textron meeting.

Cai Von Rumohr -- Cowen and Company -- Analyst

Yes. Thanks so much. So, could you give us a little more color on the TRACKER deal? As I read the release, they are coming out with some dirt product under their brand name. Do you produce that product? And kind of what's the basis of your agreement?

Scott Donnelly -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

So, we do. So, the whole partnership here, Cai, is that we provide the engineering and manufacturing, and Bass Pro and their TRACKER independent dealers provide the distribution channel. So, we do talk about it as a partnership. It's not a conventional sort of, "Hey, we wholesale and you do retail." We work -- kind of have been working together on the design, the branding, really tailoring this around what Johnny and his team want to take through that channel under the TRACKER brand.

It's a great relationship. We're sort of a both guys win kind of a deal. They are a great company, got a lot of great people. Nobody knows the retail side of outdoor sports like they do.

So, it's been something where we bring sort of the technical and manufacturing capability, and they bring the branding and distribution side.

Cai Von Rumohr -- Cowen and Company -- Analyst

And do they do snow also? Or is it only -- is it only OFF ROAD?

Scott Donnelly -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

They will do some snow in some of their stores, obviously, in selected regions. And where they do that, they will do that under the Arctic Cat brand because the Arctic Cat brand is -- I mean, that obviously, that brand stands for itself in the snow side.
jj says:
6/28/2019 7:07:00 PM

Here is some more of it that mentions the Tracker stuff

Sheila Kahyaoglu -- Jefferies -- Analyst

Great. And then on Industrial, maybe can you provide an update on where you are with the restructuring, what the size of the specialized vehicle business should look like? Where Scott in it -- is -- with his progress on the dealer channel and the product update?

Scott Donnelly -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Well, I think the actions that we took in the fourth quarter were largely around sort of addressing some of the cost issues, adjusting some of the product portfolio, frankly, some of that on the curbside, a couple of product lines that we chose to exit. We just didn't see that that was going to be a long-term profitable business for -- in some of those particular product line, so we exited some of those things. So, between the cost and some of the portfolio and manufacturing footprint rationalization, that largely happened in the fourth quarter. We'll see a little of that trickle here into the first quarter, but most of it is behind us.

So, I think that the team has a very good plan and is executing quite well in terms of getting our arms around the operational side. Obviously, the other thing, which we've talked about in the past is something that would be a more difficult thing. Something that takes longer to build out is the distribution and addressing that side of it. This partnership that we announced with Bass Pro and TRACKER is obviously something we're very excited about.

Building our distribution in strong retail channel is quite difficult, so the opportunity to partner with the guy that's the best in the world at that, I think, will be a great thing for the business in that mid to longer term. So, we're obviously, working very closely with them right now on the rollout of the product into that channel. So, as we look at 2019, I think we're in a -- we're obviously, in a much, much better place than where we were. So, I think what the team is focused on, our operations and now growing out that new distribution channel, will be resulting in delivering a good year, I think.

And then with good momentum going into 2020 and beyond.
Snopro says:
6/29/2019 6:36:00 AM

Thanks for the info, this is a turn I never saw coming. It's amazing how quiet everyone has been
TP says:
7/1/2019 8:26:00 PM

Who is going to service the products? Are they going to be qualified to repair modern technology advanced products? Who is going to deal with all the warranty issues?

This is keep a lot of people from purchasing a sled. You just made me a Polaris buyer.
Snopro says:
7/1/2019 8:54:00 PM

We have a Cabela's/basspro near by, they have a service dept for the boats already.
Glad2BGone says:
7/2/2019 10:40:00 AM

JJ, I listen to and read the transcripts of the quarterly conference calls. Not surprisingly, with Textron's ownership the calls are 99.44% about aviation and defense. The "Industrial Segment" is not often questioned by analysts, let alone Arctic Cat specifically, which is just a footnote now. The next call in a couple weeks just might reveal some interesting morsels.

TP, when I was a dealer Large Mouth Bass had many locations with no technicians(like Gander Mtn), or poorly trained hackers. We were begged regularly by the Tech Service reps to take in units from their irate customers. Arctic Cat did put their foot down, to some extent, and push them to get trained techs. Those calls for service bailouts did subside, but I can't say it is because they have better techs or not.

In the end, Textron's market share is zip, and that is not likely to change with their uncompetitive, make that moribund, product offerings. I just don't see the EZ Go dolts pulling a rabbit out of their hat.
TP says:
7/6/2019 6:32:00 PM

G2bG: I have watched this in the automotive industry for years. Improved product resulted in qualified people to leave industry. Wage never grew, tech and processes got more complicated. I don't see this turning out well for Cat. And with Textron noted for disassembling companies for profit, I see no up side for anyone....especially the customer.
303wankle says:
7/8/2019 8:42:00 AM

Yamaha is going to buy Arctic and fold it into their mix, bet on it.
TP says:
7/8/2019 6:44:00 PM

303wankle: Let us hope. Same for the name. I see them using Cat technology with their engines. As for the name and the Thief River Falls manufacturing, I hope so. Good people up there and they are the backbone of Cat. Without wouldn't be a Cat!
Glad2BGone says:
7/9/2019 6:47:00 PM

I just saw the results of the most recent dealer survey conducted by Baird, and the results are unspeakably bad. The sobering reality is setting in for even the most eternal of optimistic dealers. Lowest dealer sentiment number they ever recorded.

I just don't see any way this turns around.
JJ says:
7/13/2019 2:18:00 PM

I think maybe we need a large gathering of disappointed dealers and customers to show up and ask for some questions to finally be answered at haydays.
TP says:
7/14/2019 1:17:00 PM

JJ: That isn't a bad idea. Maybe this and other sites can put the word out. A large gathering of unhappy people may send a message to Textron that their decisions could bring an outcome they could not predict in a boardroom. Hitting them where it hurts has far greater impact than just a few unhappy customers complaining. I am sure Wall Street will take notice and respond accordingly.
jj says:
7/15/2019 2:08:00 PM

Who knows if they will care since they are terminating a bunch of dealers. Which you won't hear much about because they are getting some dealers to sign a "mutual agreement" in which it will look like its the dealers choice to part ways and they can't say much or mention it or they may loose some benefits. But expect a large decline in dealers come 2020 and 2021.
Krom says:
7/16/2019 9:38:00 AM

Does you really think that anyone from textron corporate will be at haydays????
jj says:
7/16/2019 11:11:00 AM

Who knows but the VP at the time has been there the last two years.

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