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Sun Shines Bright: Arctic Cat Trip Report in June 2014


(6/10/2014)

Arctic Cat in Thief River Falls on June 3, 2014. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Last week I spent two glorious days at Arctic Cat in Thief River Falls.

Every trip to Arctic Cat in Thief River Falls is a good one, but some days there are extra bright. This was one of them.

 

Arctic Cat President/CEO Chris Twomey inside the manufacturing plant. Photo: ArcticInsider.com

The news of Chris Twomey's return as Chairman of the Board and interim CEO at Arctic Cat in the wake of Claude Jordan stepping down, spread through the company on Monday morning. And by day's end Chris Twomey had addressed the entire company of Arctic Cat’s bright future for the financially strong company.

Twomey was CEO at Arctic Cat for 24 years prior to his retirement in 2010. He was respected as much for his ability to lead the company as he was for his understanding of the products and the people who use them. Chris genuinely rides snowmobiles, ROVs and ATVs for fun. His open-door policy (as evidenced here touring the factory) at Arctic Cat was a hallmark of his tenure.

 

Arctic Cat President/CEO Chris Twomey inside the manufacturing plant. Photo: ArcticInsider.com

I think it's cool that Twomey spent a big chunk of the day going through the production area, talking with people and answering questions.

 

Arctic Cat President/CEO Chris Twomey inside the manufacturing plant. Photo: ArcticInsider.com

Arctic Cat President/CEO Chris Twomey inside the manufacturing plant. Photo: ArcticInsider.com

The mood this day reminded me of the One Millionth sled celebration at Arctic Cat, back in 2010.

Twomey's job for the next handful of months is to take the company forward while identifying new CEO leadership that will grow the company into the future.

These are good days at Arctic Cat, with even better days ahead.

 

Arctic Cat's Dave and Lonnie Thompson. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

It's funny, but several moments of this trip felt like a reunion, as evidenced by running into Team Arctic legend Dave Thompson (left) and his son Lonnie at lunch. Dave is a hotrod car enthusiast and is getting primed for the upcoming "Back to the '50s" vintage event in the Twin Cities.

 

Arctic Cat collector Dick Krogstad

Dick Krogstad is another longtime Arctic Cat mainstay who I was happy to have seen on this trip. He stopped by the Marketing department to gather a few items that he brought to the vintage snowmobile show in Milbank, SD.

 

2015 Arctic Cat Wildcat Trail on the assembly line. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

As always, the focus remains on innovation, new (and improved) products and great experiences outdoors.

 

2015 Arctic Cat Wildcat Trail on the assembly line. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

The all-new 50-inch wide Wildcat Trail models were rolling down the production line and tempting me to play hooky and go for a ride.

 

2015 Arctic Cat 500 ATV on the assembly line. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

On the ATV line, 500 4x4 EFI models looked equally sweet and ready to roost.

 

2015 Arctic Cat M model on the assembly line. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

2015 M8000 Sno Pro models graced the snowmobile assembly line.

 

2015 Arctic Cat M model on the assembly line. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Inside Arctic Cat snowmobile production. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

I get PUMPED when I think about all of the cool places and experiences that these machines will deliver in the coming years.

 

Arctic Cat snowmobile production. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

That's a bumper crop of suspension arms.

 

Arctic Cat ATV engineer Ryan Hughes. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Over in the ATV engineering area, Ryan Hughes paused from his regular scheduled duties to autograph the Fall 2007 issue of Arctic Cat RIDE magazine, on which he graced the cover piloting a then-new Thundercat 4x4.

No, Hughes doesn't normally have a stack of seven-year-old magazines sitting on his desk. He happened to find these in a supply room and was happy to share with anyone who came within 20-feet of his desk.

 

Arctic Cat ATV Engineers meeting. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

A short while later, Hughes (foreground) joined fellow ATV/ROV engineers (from R-to-L) Jared Spindler, Mike Morris and Mark Esala, as well as Marketing's Kale Wainer (far left) in a download of information on the 2015 models.

 

Arctic Cat snowmobile engineers. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Over in the Snowmobile Engineering area, there was talk among (L-to-R) Blake Schoh, Andy Beavis, Dan Gilbert and Wes Selby about a recent spring test trip with some 2015 snowmobiles, as well as some laughter about Andy using a Bearcat ski as a de facto snowboard during the trip.

The snow engineers are STILL riding and testing future sleds, and in fact Selby was scheduled to join a crew of riders out West later in the week.

 

Arctic Cat Director of Snowmobile Engineering, Doug Braswell. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Chris Twomey isn't the only former Arctic Cat employee who has returned recently. In March, former snowmobile engineer Doug Braswell returned as Director of Snowmobile Engineering, having spent nearly 10 years at John Deere.

I've enjoyed a lot of snowmobile trips and experiences with Braswell, including Ride With the Champs events in recent years. He's pumped about his new role with Arctic Cat.

What he talked about most during our 10-minute conversation were the talented people in the engineering department, which I think is pretty cool.

My key advice to him? Decorate the walls of his office.

 

Arctic Cat M Engineer Troy Halvorson. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Next door to Braswell's office, Mountain Team Leader Troy Halvorson was discussing the continued evolution of Arctic Cat M sleds. The efforts by Troy and the team to deliver real-world performance to the mountain sleds has made a big impact the past couple of seasons, and there's more stuff that's coming in the future.

That's all for now, thanks for reading.



Comments (8):

B&K Motorsports says:
6/10/2014 12:00:00 PM

John you got the life.
Captain says:
6/10/2014 3:15:00 PM

The CEO walking the production floor, interacting with employees and showing a genuine interest in their job and appreciation for what they do. Novel idea.
Little things like this I am sure instill a sense of pride within some of the employees.
Great to see Chris back!
Kevin says:
6/10/2014 7:54:00 PM

"These are good days at Arctic Cat, with even better days ahead" -- Absolutely!

Also, Dave Thompson is THE man -- I love that picture you posted a few weeks ago.

Todd says:
6/11/2014 12:08:00 AM

John that is everything i've been talking about with chris back at the helm Arctic's best days are ahead. And it shows in the way he handels people. After all we are not just customers some faceless market force. we are the driving force behind the passion!! And treat us good and fair with support from real people. Treat your dealers right give them the support and knowladge they need. And watch out world!! It was once this way when they were small....we just need to get back to some of this on a much bigger scale and arctic will have the world ....by the tail!!!
Greg Hallstrom says:
6/12/2014 12:54:00 AM

What? Doug Braswell is back in town? Uffda!

Whether John Deere or Arctic Cat, both are good.

Geez but Doug has gotten old looking. What's up with that? Deere must have been hard on him.
Dick says:
6/12/2014 9:16:00 AM

Good to see Doug back. He's a great engineer and really takes pride in the Arctic Cat product.
Ross says:
6/12/2014 1:00:00 PM

Any arcticinsider info/hints on 2015 ATV's?
mr.gainer says:
6/17/2014 8:47:00 AM

I hope, the drive clutch on the ``15 are better then the drive clutch on the 8000 ``14. Drive clutch was ****ing **** last year!

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