The machine: a 2011 Arctic Cat Crossfire 800 LTD, serial # 4UF11SNW9BT108931. That’s 1 Million Arctic Cat snowmobiles since Aug. 1983, when Arctco Inc. arose from the ashes of Arctic Enterprises.
All of the more-than 1,100 current Arctic Cat employees signed their name to the historic sled.
As the sled rolled down the line throughout the day, the people who work at Cat came down to sign their name, grab a photo of themselves with the machine and simply soak up the historic moment.
When Kale (aka KDub) signed his name, the value of the sled shot off the charts. I wonder if he spelled it “Kale” or “Kayle?”
There were smiling faces everywhere, like those of Robbie Omdahl and his mom, Paulette, one of many “generation” families who have made Arctic Cat the greatest snowmobile (and ATV) company in the world.
A handful of people gathered during an impromtu story-telling session by Chris Twomey (top center, gesturing with his hands).
While everyone was listening to Twomey and not looking, I put an ArcticInsider decal on the sled. Not really.
Technically, the 2011 Crossfire isn’t the 1 Millionth Arctic Cat snowmobile. The actual sled that holds that honor is this 1994 EXT 580, which represents the 1 Millionth Arctic Cat snowmobile built since the company was founded by Edgar Hetteen in 1961.
I know there are some people at Cat who maybe feel a twinge of discomfort, perhaps even embarrassment, that Arctic Enterprises went out of business following the 1981 model year, and that the brand “went fish’n” for a couple years.
I don’t share that sentiment.
Companies succeed and sometimes fail. But even in failure there can be some form of success.
The incredible story of the amazing people who resurrected Arctic Cat – bringing back to life the passion that’s fueled nearly five decades of dreams – is a primary reason why my heart and soul are green.
We all fail at various points in life… but these missteps shouldn’t define us. Instead, we should be defined by how we respond to our failures.
I love and respect the people of Arctic all the more because of their response to the failure of Arctic Enterprises. They’ve inspired me countless times during the past 27 years, and I owe them a debt of gratitude that words only feebly convey.
I suppose that I do understand how having essentially two “Arctic Cat” companies presents a dilemma when it comes to counting sleds or anniversary dates.
This 1990 Prowler on display in the entry way at Cat is marked as the 100,000th Arctic Cat since 1983.
At the end of the day though, Arctic Cat as a company has a deep understanding of history and loyalty, and that’s what matters the most.
There was even a bit of history-replay by recreating the “cake” photo from p. 220 of the “Legend” book. That’s Arctic Cat CEO Chris Twomey on the left, with President/COO Claude Jordan on the right.
Is there no limit to the greatness of Roger Skime (left)?
During the celebratory lunch, the VP of Engineering/Soul-of-the-Company served up potato chips at one of the buffet tables.
Roger does things like this because it was a job that needed to be done and because it’s a small way to express his own gratitude to the people who work at Cat.
Roger is pure class to his very core. Talking with him at various points during the day, it was abundantly clear the immense pride he felt toward the company and its people.
I wish that original company founder Edgar Hetteen would have been in good enough health to have joined Roger on this day. I know that Roger thought of Edgar throughout the celebration.
When the completed Crossfire was rolled out of the factory and the 800-or-so employees who work in TRF streamed behind it, I had a lump in my throat.
Imagine the joy… the adventure… the discovery… the relationships… and the dreams made possible by 1 Million snowmobiles. How could we even begin to measure such things?
And when everyone gathered around the sled for this group photo, I couldn’t help but wonder about how many more joys and dreams would be fulfilled by the next 1 Million snowmobiles.
Everyone hung out for awhile, sharing stories and looking at the historic sled. Events like this are important on so many different levels.
After the big group photo, the Serial #1 1984 Arctic Cat Panther was rolled out to join the Crossfire, along with 23 of the 56-or-so employees who comprised the company back in the summer of 1983.
This photo brings a smile to my face. It’s also a bit startling the size difference between these two machines… but that’s a post for another day.
Eventually the party ended. People went back to work designing, testing, building, selling, supporting, and dreaming snowmobiles and ATVs.
And the 1 Millionth Arctic Cat snowmobile was placed in the lobby, where anyone can (and should) see it.
I’ll end this post with a massive, heartfelt CONGRATULATIONS! to everyone who has ever been part of the Arctic Cat story, from employees to dealers to us riders. Really… thank you all!
And a special thank YOU to Edgar Hetteen. Your dream continues to inspire.
I look forward to an even bigger 50th Anniversary party next summer, when we all can gather to celebrate.