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Snapshot of What's Happening at Arctic Cat: Nov. 2012 Edition


(11/9/2012)

I was at Arctic Cat in Thief River Falls for the past couple of days.

Here's a snapshot of what (and who) I saw.

Inside Arctic Cat, photo: ArcticInsider.com

I looked ominous when, inside the lobby, I was greeted by this motley crew. Gary Nelson (left) shoots me a suspicious look, no doubt wondering why I didn't bring him a T-shirt for his collection. Sorry Gary, next time.

In the middle is Brandon Kisch, who works with Gary in Events and Promotions. On the right is Tom Schaefer of Arcticwear, Arctic Cat oil and other projects.

 

Inside Arctic Cat, photo: ArcticInsider.com

At the lobby was a 50 Years of Arctic Cat book that employees were signing as a retirement gift to Wayne Nelson, who has worked with production (building tools and fixtures and about a hundred other things) for many years. Good luck on your future, Wayne!

That's Kale Wainer throwing down the signature.

 

2013 Arctic Cat CrossTour 800 on the production line, photo: ArcticInsider.com

Arctic Cat XF800 CrossTours were on the snowmobile production line. This has been a popular machine for this coming season, thanks to its role as an adventure-touring machine.

This is the spot on the assembly line where the machines are complete, just before they're taken off for crating.

 

Inside Arctic Cat, photo: ArcticInsider.com

This is spot near the beginning of the line, where the rack of components (right) provides the basis for assembly to the chassis.

 

Inside Arctic Cat, photo: ArcticInsider.com

This rack was exhausted from all the support it gives.

Yeah, I know, bad pun.

 

Inside Arctic Cat, photo: ArcticInsider.com

CrossTour front bumpers heading into the paint booth.

 

Arctic Cat Prowlers on the production line, photo: ArcticInsider.com

Camouflage HDX models were rolling off the Prowler line, which was fitting considering that it's the first week of deer season in Minnesota and everyone was talking about their experience afield.

I notice how, depending upon the time of year, there's a certain theme that surfaces in the conversations I have with people when I'm at Cat. On this trip, the theme was definitely deer hunting.

It's cool that SO MANY Arctic Cat people are outdoorsmen and women who use the products just the same as you and I.

 

Arctic Cat ATVs on the production line

On the ATV line, 700 4x4s were taking shape.

 

Inside Arctic Cat, photo: ArcticInsider.com

As much as I enjoy seeing snowmobiles, ATVs and side-by-sides come to life, I equally enjoy seeing the people who make it happen. I'm guilty of focusing a lot of my attention on the engineers who design this stuff, but the fact is there are hundreds of other people who make the entire process possible.

One of those people is LaDawn Olson, who assists ATV Engineering as well as production line employees with all kinds of help. LaDawn didn't want me to shoot this photo because she claimed her desk was messy.

First of all LaDawn, when you're the assistant to hundred or so people, your desk can't be perfectly clean. And secondly, if you saw my desk you would understand what a true mess looks like!

 

Kevin Thompson of Arctic Cat, photo by ArcticInsider.com

I ran into my friend Kevin Thompson outside of the machine shop, where we caught up on the various happenings in each other's lives. Kevin shares some hunting stories, as well as the good news that his dad, Davey Thompson, is healthy and enjoying retirement from Arctic Cat.

 

Brian Espeseth and Joey Hallstrom of Arctic Cat

In a different area of Engineering I ran into two people who have been a part of Arctic Cat since before Edgar: Brian Espeseth (left) and Joey Hallstrom. Well, maybe not quite that long, but definitely long enough that they are among the grizzled veterans at the company.

Brian manages the Service & Warranty department at Arctic Cat and Joey is the Snowmobile Product Manager.

 

Arctic Cat Race Win Poster from 1990

I love looking at the stuff on peoples' walls, and in Joey's office hangs this advertisement from the 1990 race season in which Brian Sturgeon and Kirk Hibbert accounted for a pile of huge wins aboard the amazing EXT Special.

 

Kirk Hibbert inside Arctic Cat, photo: ArcticInsider.com

Well lo-and-behold, there was Kirk Hibbert himself! With the snocross race season commencing in just a couple weeks, the pace inside the Hibbert Race Shop is fast and furious. Not surprising, Kirk was practically running between the Machine shop and Styling, barely pausing long enough to shake my hand.

 

Inside Arctic Cat, photo: ArcticInsider.com

Up in the Sales & Marketing area, the marketing team of Kale Wainer (left) and John Tranby (second from left) were meeting with engineers Brian Dick (second from right) and Troy Halvorson (right) about the 2014 line of snowmobiles.

Looking at this photo and knowing all four of these guys as well as I do, I'm struck by the fact that all four are lifelong snowmobilers whose blood is green and whose passion is Arctic Cat.

 

Roger Skime of Arctic Cat, photo: ArcticInsider.com

And when it comes to passion for Arctic Cat snowmobiles, everyone stands behind this legend: Roger Skime.

I snapped this pic of Roger at 5:30 in the evening. He was (literally) sketching some ideas for a snowmobile suspension on some paper, eager to talk about his ideas with the kind of enthusiasm you'd expect from a first-year employee who had just downed six cups of coffee.

These days Roger's focusing on Research & Development, and the ideas that percolate from his imagination are truly wonderful and, perhaps, prophetic.

 

Inside Arctic Cat, photo: ArcticInsider.com

Roger loves many things in life, including his family, Arctic Cat and of course "his" racers. The stuff hanging on his office walls reflect that love.

On this wall you can spy poster/pix of Gary Moyle, P.J. Wanderscheid, Tucker Hibbert, Blair Morgan and several grandkids.

 

Inside Arctic Cat, photo: ArcticInsider.com

On another wall in Roger's office is this amazing artwork of legendary Team Arctic racers.

I'll give a special prize to the first person (besides Stephen Knox) who can correctly identify all of the racers (from left to right).

 

Inside Arctic Cat, photo: ArcticInsider.com

I'll end this post with another interesting wall hanging, taken in engineer Lynn Berberich's office. It's a mission statement from Arctic Cat snowmobile Engineering.

I also know how this mission statement isn't just a bunch of words: it's literally part of the DNA of the people who design and build Arctic Cat snowmobiles. Sometimes they nail it perfectly, and sometimes they miss just a bit (far less frequently than I "miss it" in my work life, I might add).

But no matter what, they keep at it with a passion and dedication that burns deep and pure. Because every single one of them knows EXACTLY the passion and dedication reflected by us, the Arctic Cat riders.

Like Roger always says: It's not a job, it's a life.

Thanks for reading.



Comments (19):

MrKnutson says:
11/9/2012 3:14:00 PM

As a lifelong Polaris lover I hate this website. I read it everyday, love the history of both the old models and the new history behind the new models. Being introduced to people you only read about in articles makes the company come alive! There is no site that I have found for any company I am interested in that comes this close to engraining people in the history and daily events and innovations. Keep up the good work, I love this site and may even race a cat this winter!
Stephen Knox says:
11/9/2012 3:46:00 PM

I hope you know that what you are doing is discrimination, and it hurts!
Just for that i'll go right to left.
Roger Skime
Larry Coltom
Dave Thompson
Bob Elsner
Roger Janssen
Charlie Lofton
Dale Cormican
:-)
Kevin says:
11/9/2012 6:03:00 PM

Ok then... Dale Cormican, Charlie Lofton , Roger Jannsen, Bob Elsner, Dave Thompson, Larry Coltom, Roger Skime.
Stephen Knox says:
11/9/2012 6:38:00 PM

You know he's going to give it to you Kevin because I broke his two rules.
1) Stephen Knox is banned from trivia.
2) Went right to left.
Raymond Fouch says:
11/10/2012 7:10:00 PM

Cat owner since 1966! You guys absolutely rock!! Keep up the great work. You are number 1. Everyone chases your work.
John Sandberg says:
11/11/2012 7:29:00 PM

Mr Knutson: Thanks for those nice words! We're glad to have you here, even if you never ride a Cat.

Stephen, nice job destroying the contest before it even started.

Stephen Knox says:
11/13/2012 2:31:00 AM

Sorry about that John, I guess I get a kick in the head instead of a prize. At least I feel like a winner on the inside. :)
akrider says:
11/15/2012 2:37:00 PM

Great article! I really like seeing the behind the scenes photos and write ups. This site definitely makes Arctic Cat a lot less of a corporation and more personable and relatable than the other three snowmachine OEM's. I don't even own a Cat but I love reading the stories and articles. Two of my buddy's have switched over to the Cat in the past year and another is on the fence. If he switches then I'm going to have a hard time not following them over. :)
Scott says:
11/16/2012 12:30:00 AM

One of my biggest regrets is that I didn't pursue a career with these amazing people. I remember drinkling nickle beers with Joey Halstrom at the 87 Eagle river World Championships and celebrating at the 1988 5 Year Cat Fest and trying to get a job in Engineering. One of the guys gave me the ladies name in personnel and I never followed through...........Being from Canada I thought it was a pipe dream. Always follow your dreams!
Steve LePinnet says:
12/2/2012 8:01:00 PM

Great article, It's really good to see Roger still going at it. Everything Roger stands for,and the work he's done in the last fifty years make me and my family who we are. Thank You ARCTIC CAT
Eldon Smith says:
1/9/2013 8:19:00 PM

I truly enjoy reading this web site! About the people who work for the company, management, the racers, from the past and now, and of course Roger Skime! I have owned a CAT since 1991, EXT "EL TIGRE" and ,I have bought, and four other ones since. My wife and I are expecting our first grandchild this year on Feb. 10, my late dad's birthday, we hope it will be healthy and strong, as we both can't wait to give our grandchild its first ride on an ARCTIC CAT! Roger, I have to come and see you this year because I truly regard you a great man and leader! God Bless You! Keep on building and riding!!!!!!!!!! WHEN YOU BUY THE CAT, NOBODY ASKS WHY.
christian kereluik says:
2/7/2013 11:21:00 AM

hi i hear suzuki is not making motors for you guys in sleds anymore and there s talks about you guys making a deal with yamaha to make motors for you guys is this true?
Emirhan says:
10/9/2015 2:59:00 AM

Do you think SNDK is a good short now? I wasn't extceping such a spike today. I was extceping more of an aapl tend downward first. 12% spike seems little rich to me?
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