For a four year period beginning in 1982, Certified Parts Corporation of Janesville, Wis., and its owner, Jim Grafft, were an integral, brand-saving chapter in the Arctic Cat story.
For a short history CPC and how I ended up there, please CLICK HERE for Episode 1 of CPC Revisited.
To see what we uncovered at the first warehouse where we met Grafft, CLICK HERE for Episode 2.
HERE in Episode 3 – A Barn Full of Sleds, you can see some truly delicious artifacts, including a prototype and some legendary Sno Pro hoods.
And to see some truly exceptional artifacts, click HERE for Episode 4 – Tales From the Crypt.
Having the opportunity to share the CPC Revisited story here has been a tremendous joy, rivaled only by the experience of actually seeing the CPC collection for myself.
For that I want to once again thank Tom White for getting this ball rolling and Tom Rowland for inviting me to tag along.
My (actually, OUR) greatest gratitude is reserved for Jim Grafft, who shepherded three complete strangers around various buildings, allowing us to dig, document and (many times) dance for joy. Jim gave us an entire day of his life, and for that I am truly grateful. Thanks Jim!
Before I get to my final sentiments, I want to share a few more facts:
I wrote in Episode I that, after CPC sold its Arctic Cat inventory back to Arctco, that CPC seemed to disappear from the prominent role it had enjoyed during the mid-1980s. I still believe that’s true, but it’s a mistake to think they completely disappeared. As many comments here have indicated, the vintage restoration hobby has been well-served by CPC for many years.
CPC has purchased many different companies over the years. Two of their more recent purchases included Hoffco/Comet Clutch and Tecumseh in 2009. Along with new units from these brands, CPC continues to sell NOS parts for many snowmobile brands. CLICK HERE for a short description of CPC’s titles.
Since this series began, I’ve received many private emails and phone calls inquiring whether Jim Grafft really might sell some of the rare sleds and artifacts shown in various episodes.
I only know what Jim told us: that he has no interest in selling any of it, but that he does have interest in sharing some of his collection with the vintage community. Exactly what that “sharing” looks like is a work in progress. I like to think it’s already started with the stories on this site.
And I can tell you there is another project in the works involving a snowmobile owned by Grafft that will bring great pleasure to the vintage world in the coming months.
I’m hopeful that these efforts to share are just the beginning, the “overview” episode if you will, of a story that will offer many more chapters.
Lastly, I want to talk a little bit about snowmobile industry history.
Spending the day at CPC looking at various snowmobiles and artifacts from long-gone snowmobile companies, as well as looking at items from the final days of Arctic Enterprises, underscores the fact that the snowmobile industry has experienced many triumphs, and just as many tragedies.
While I have sadness about never knowing what wonders might have come from companies like Rupp, Speedway, Chaparral and Scorpion had they stayed in business, I feel gutted for the people whose hopes, dreams and jobs were extinguished when these companies turned off the lights for the last time.
All of which makes me profoundly grateful that Arctic Cat survived… that it wasn’t reduced to an inventory of parts on warehouse shelves… that the “Arctic Cat” sign that graced the front of the factory wasn’t sitting in the box in a basement warehouse like the letters from Rupp Industries.
There are many people to credit for this fact:
The “Condo Crew” of Arctic Cat employees that include Brian Espeseth, Bill Ness, Ole Tweet, Bill Hahn, Leon Johnson, Roger Skime, Edgar Hetteen, Rick Stenseth and Dave Thompson.
The investors who took a gamble to restart the company (many of whom were regular middleclass people acting upon their passion and gut instinct rather than sound financial planning).
And also Jim Grafft and CPC.
Thank you all!
And thanks for reading.