Beginning now, ArcticInsider is officially back! Yep, after six months of having gone fishin’, this hangout will once again serve up news, insight and inside views on the world of Arctic Cat, albeit with a twist: Kale Wainer will be the person capturing, sharing and posting the cool content.
Longtime readers of this site will immediately recognize Kale for his role as Marketing Manager at Arctic Cat from 2004-2019, and from dozens of appearances in stories posted here. Kale stepped away from an official job at Arctic Cat last February, but he’s still deeply passionate about the product and people within Arctic Cat’s walls.
It seemed the best way to announce Kale restarting the engine of ArcticInsider in place of me, is by asking him some key questions about his plans for this site.
AI: First of all, Kale, give us the elevator speech about how long you’ve been in powersports, what roles you’ve had, and your connection to Arctic Cat.
Kw: John, I just wanted to start by saying thank you for allowing me to carry the Arcticinsider torch. You’ve done an amazing job with this site and judging from all the comments posted here and on AI’s social pages in the past two weeks, your legions of fans would agree with me.
I’ve worked at every facet of the powersports industry for the last twenty years including my time at one of the largest aftermarket distributors, sold advertising and carried out editorial duties at a national snowmobile and off-road magazine, and even started my own freestyle and backcountry snowmobile magazine focused on a younger generation of riders. The magazine only lasted three issues and as I think back, the OEM’s laughed and said, “There’s no market in freestyle and backcountry riding.” Snowmobile freestyle may have lost some momentum since those days, but I’d say backcountry riding is alive, prospering and the focus of most OEMs. Sometimes it’s risky being a pioneer.
AI: Why did you leave Arctic Cat last year? And what’s your perspective of where the company is at right now?
Kw: I worked in all Arctic Cat office locations starting in Thief River Falls (TRF) to Plymouth to Minneapolis and then St. Cloud. In February of 2019, the St. Cloud office was closed (engine manufacturing is still there) and jobs were relocated to either Augusta, Ga or TRF. I was given the option to relocate, but made the difficult choice to step away and keep my family rooted in the Minneapolis area.
Since I departed, Arctic Cat has undergone many big changes, rapidly. Some of the changes are hard for brand enthusiasts to digest or understand. I can relate to all of this, and trust me, I’ve had my fair share of questions.
That said, I also believe change is a good thing. If you do things the same old way, you get the same old results. And I think that is where Arctic Cat’s business mind is at. I’m told Arctic Cat is returning to profitability, and from what I see the company is being run on a smaller, more focused scale. (This is something I’ll discuss here in the near future.)
If we put all that smart “business change” talk aside, I want people to realize, and not forget, Arctic Cat still exists. And it exists because of the loyal customers and dealers, and the dedicated, passionate individuals who remain within its walls working on the innovative products we’ve all come to know and love. That’s still a great thing!
AI: Agreed. Speaking of loyalty, you and I have been friends and colleagues with Arctic Cat stuff for 15 years. Tell me some of your favorite memories of things we did posted here at ArcticInsider.
Kw: Road trips! Road trips were always my favorite. I encourage anyone reading this to revisit those stories still archived here. We consumed roughly 1,358 boxes of Mike and Ike candies, downed enough Hot Stuff pizza to elevate their market share to number one in Northern Minnesota and took some of the world’s most random photos along the way.
Harmless pranks were also one of my favorites! Like the time you transported all the garbage from the Kentucky Fried Chicken in Detroit Lakes to TRF, then threw all of it into the back of my truck bed. Every crow in Pennington county was digging through those chicken bone bags! Funny stuff.
AI: (Laughs). For sure the road trips to TRF were the best, not just because of the pranks, but also because the people and the cool things happening in TRF is the beating heart of Arctic Cat. About a month ago you approached me with the idea of posting stories on AI. Why do you want to pick up the torch here and start posting?
Kw: Arctic Cat enthusiasts are truly some of the most passionate owners I’ve ever met. And without a site like this, they have been left wanting. Wanting inside answers about the company, the people and the product. I want to deliver some of those answers, but continue to share the rich history and heritage of an iconic brand.
AI: What should readers expect from you, in terms of the kind of content and frequency?
Kw: I’m going to try and continue the same type of written spirit and stories all fans of this site are used to. Starting off, I’ll give everyone a reason to visit this site at least once a week, and will elevate the frequency of posts on Arcticinsider’s social media pages (FB and IG) with content different than what is posted here. I truly enjoy custom builds, vintage Arctic Cats, collections, racing, interviews and destination stories. So, it’s safe to say you’ll see a mix of those stories.
AI: Awesome! Are you going to have true inside access to Arctic Cat? Will we see stories like TRF road trips, interviews with people from the company, and such?
Kw: Having worked at Arctic Cat for 15yrs, I still have a connection to many friends there, and I left the company on great terms. I feel stories like road trips and interviews are essential and needed, so those will definitely continue. Like you, I also have a passion for new product and the people who are instrumental in developing them. I hope to have the same opportunity like the rest of the media to ride/drive new units and pass-on my opinions.
AI: What aren’t you going to do here, that people were used to with the stories I wrote? In other words, what’s going to be different?
Kw: I want this site to remain a place where any snowmobile or off-road enthusiast (despite brand ownership) can come visit and leave entertained and informed. I encourage people to comment and share their opinions on stories and topics but I have a very low tolerance for trolls, arguing and degrading others or the brand. Please don’t do it here. Powersports isn’t rocket appliance, it’s fun, let’s keep it that way.
AI: This sounds awesome, I’m glad you’re doing this and I can’t wait to read your stuff! So for now, let’s sign off with you telling us a favorite story about Roger Skime.
Kw: Roger is truly one of my favorite people, and my hero. I’m grateful to call him my friend who has made me laugh so many times. My first week working at Arctic Cat in TRF, way back in 2004, I was standing outside one of the conference rooms with Roger, who barely knew me at the time. Kevin Thompson (Drivetrain Engineer) walked up to us and Roger introduced me but didn’t know how to pronounce my last name. Trying three different ways he says, “Kevin this is Kale Wein…Whine…Wag…THIS IS KALE! He’s new in marketing. I gotta go!” And off he went down the hallway. (Laughs)
There isn’t a better ambassador for snowmobiling than Roger Skime. His passion for powersports is infectious and I hope to model that for the tone of this site.
AI: I love that story about your name. Thanks for restarting the engine here and having the gumption to make it great again. I can’t wait to read more. By the way, how should Roger have pronounced your last name?
Kw: It sounds like way-ner. People can call me Kale. Just don’t call me late to dinner.