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Gone Exploring: A Brief Story About Me

 Sandberg's situation illustrated by a cartoon

This past November I counter-steered, leaned hard and carved into a major career change, becoming a marketing manager at a bicycle parts distribution company in the Twin Cities.

For the first time since 1994 I am no longer working on projects for Arctic Cat. For the first time since 1992 I’m NOT working from home. And for the first time since 1989 I don’t have an official job in the snowmobile industry.

To say it was a hard decision, or that it’s been strange these past few months, would be massive understatements.  

I carved this new path for a lot of reasons, but the two biggest were that I wanted a job where I worked around people, and I wanted to learn some new skills. I’m happy to report that I’m getting both. The company is awesome and my boss is a former Arctic Cat employee!

I’m sad to report that it’s meant I can’t post here like I used to.

I knew this would happen when I accepted my new job, of course, but I just didn’t anticipate the extent of it. Throw into the mix two kids in high school, being involved in a couple organizations and being a high school bike coach, and my fuel tank is running on empty for doing much else. 

Change…can be tough. And good. And scary. And where it eventually leads, we don’t really know.

There have been so many changes at Arctic Cat the past 2-plus years. So many!

From a near bankruptcy to being purchased by Textron. We now have people who are new to the sport, the industry and our brand make major decisions that have deep consequences.

Some of these decisions I can support. Like paring down the 2020 model line while battling a still massive carryover of non-current models.

Some of these decisions I can’t support. There are great, talented people who should still have a job at Arctic Cat. There is one person in particular who should have an official role at Arctic Cat for as long as he wanted, or until the lights went out for good (and if was the company’s lights that were going out for good, then this man should have been the last to touch the switch).

Regarding the future of Arctic Cat, I’ve heard lots of rumors and speculation from people inside and outside the company. I don’t know what’s in store.

I do know there are still tremendously talented and passionate people working to design, test, build, sell and service the next generation of Arctic Cat machines.

And I also know that at the very of core of Arctic Cat – the very center of it all – is the passion of riders like you. I am so grateful to you for coming to this site and sharing your passion for our brand.

Thank you.

This site will remain. And I will continue to post when time, er, life, allows.

I still have some great stories that are SO in need of sharing, like Dimmerman getting one of Elsner’s Sno Pro sleds out of Sweden, Tom Rowland inadvertently landing a remarkably historic ZR race sled, some friends of mine who right at this moment are riding Arctic Cat’s from Grand Rapids, Minn., to Churchill (on the Western edge of Hudson Bay), and more. Give me some time, they’ll arrive.

I’m looking outside my window as I write these words, the last bit of sun setting on a horizon that has more snow and more snowmobile tracks than it’s ever seen in the 17 years I’ve lived here. It’s a magical world out there.

Let’s all enjoy it for what it is. And do some exploring.

Thanks for reading – John Sandberg

Sandberg's situation illustrated by a cartoon



  1. First of all, congratulations on being brave enough to start out on a new endeavor. Its not an easy decision, I know.(especially at your /our semi advanced ages.). It is a sad feeling I have, learning you will be less involved with your great site. Yet as I flip back through all your top notch reporting, great photos and wonderful story telling. A wave of happiness crashes over me. Excellent work John…………..Get off the bike once in while and get us some news or maybe some of those inside stories. Thanks again

  2. Yes, congrats on your new employment opportunities,
    I can’t imagine all the mixed emotions that you and your fellow co- workers have been going through at arctic cat.
    It’s sad times for what is happening there,
    With the take over from textron.
    Not sure if it will ever turn around and be the same.
    We can always hope,

    I am so happy and relieved that you will continue to keep this site going for the arctic cat faithful!
    We love to read the info. That you share with us about all things arctic cat !

    Even if u can’t keep it up to the same level as you are known for,
    We understand,

    Looking forward to your next story and so on!
    Take care and thank you,

  3. Thank You John! Best wishes in your new career path! All I can say about the Man you mention is I feel blessed to have met him shake his hand, and feel his passion. I continue to bleed green.

  4. Thank you John for years of great write ups.I rank you with C.J. Ramstad, 2 great people with great stories & pictures and always willing to talk when seen at events.
    Great Luck with what lies ahead.

  5. John, man…. Changes. That’s what life will bring… I can only imagine all the emotions involved…. Like stated in a previous post, you’re very much like the legend, CJ Ramstad. One thing though, you’re John Sandberg. You’ve paved your own trail in this sport/industry. I want to thank you for all you do/have done and I’m glad I’ve had the pleasure of spending a little time riding with you and hope we can ride, again! Hey, congratulations on your new adventure! Best wishes to you and your family. Cheers to you!

  6. Thanks for the update and your new employer is luck to add you as a employee.When dale L invited me to join him on your legends ride a few years ago, I had a great day with great people. If you get time to ride up in our area, give me a call. thanks again john.

  7. Congratulations on your new Venture. Thank you for all the articles that you’ve done. Always and still proud to have Arctic Insider on my sleds.

  8. Great to hear you are doing well John. And we wish you luck on your venture. I think it’s safe to say we all agree with your sentiments. It’s pretty sad when their are people that have built this brand and who are the face of this brand that are no longer there, including you John. Textron may have gave Cat a breath when the cards fell 2 years ago but they really have not a clue what kind of company they truly have. And truth be told if we go back even further, I would place some blame on the Cat Board for hiring two CEO’s that were worthless for the future of Cat, which ultimately led to Textron’s inquisition. It’s water under the bridge but it’s worth remembering cause that’s where its gotten us, right here and now. Textron I sure hope you take notes because for every comment here there are thousands of Cat enthusiasts thinking the same thing. My suggestion is, next Hay Days, it’s about time these Textron people start hearing from us first hand. This is our brand and it’s about time we stop being quiet about it. They need to hear from us in every way, social media, emails, phone calls. We need to be the change. John, we wish you the best!

  9. Cat man very well said!We need to start to be the change we want! And thank you John for all you do Keep it up because we are all listening.

  10. Thanks John for always keeping us informed.
    One thing I can’t understand is how they supposedly “near bankruptcy” before Textron when just a couple years prior to that they were cash flush, zero debt and even had the funds to buy out the remaining Suzuki shares.
    Something doesn’t add up. Could the warranty claims on the 2012 pro cross cost them to loose that much $$$$?

  11. John… Your tireless enthusiastic contributions to Arctic, insisting all of Arctics stakeholders being informed, documenting and respecting the legacy of such a historic brand is testament to your passion. You have a great opportunity now to be candid and transparent with the power of the pen….you have earned the respect in this industry to write freely. A brand must be cared for and polished daily…..preserving brand history and challenging anything that may hurt the brand is good stewardship! I look forward to your continued special perspective regarding Arctic. Remember the customers, dealers, and employees built Arctic. Management and ownership are only place holders in Arctics history.

  12. John. I wish you the very best in your new venture and want you to know your not only a great story teller and writer, or as we would say up here in da nort, “your really good ta write” but most important your just a really good person. Hope to see you around sometime and visit.

    Your friend

  13. John As a 35 year Dealer of Arctic Cat i’m so disheartened by tour disappearance from posting on the site but understand completely your decision I also advertised on your site. Im very troubled about how this companies direction is going and watching “family” being let go and pains me My last day of business is the end of this month It was enjoyable for many years but no more Good luck on your new career Thanks for so many years of great content and in person conversations

  14. Thanks John for all great inside articles
    Good luck on your new venture
    So sad to see whats going on at Arctic Cat
    i have a bad feeling about this , i hope i am wrong .

  15. I wish the best for you John in whatever the future holds for you in your new job. I am certain you will do a great job there.
    I truly appreciate what you have done for CAT & CAT fans worldwide through your Insider website & other ways.
    I agree that our friend should be the last man there. It truly sickens me that they could treat a CAT legend that way.
    I thank you from the bottom of my heart John for the many years you have served CAT fans with your wonderful postings here.
    I look forward to any more you get time to post. This is the only website i check every day. I look forward to a day when I can meet you in person!!


  16. Congratulations on the new gig, as a person who came to cat in the last ten years this site helped me fall in love with the product and the people like yourself and many others behind it. It helped you develop a different and better connection with the brand. I’m happy for you and hopefully this site can still live, its my favorite snowmobile page, its almost as biased as some of the magazines. Thanks for your work!

  17. All you cat guys. I,be been on cat since my 72 cheethe 440. TEXTRON needs to have the balls to step up to the plate and address all our questions about the letting go of very fine people who built arctic cat and the future of our arctic cat snowmobiles. WTF is going on here? Was that bull**** last yr when Textron told us the future is brite for arctic cat? TEXTRON- you owe us the honesty of telling us the truth. Get off your ass and address this “****”. I am not happy- TEXTRON,!

  18. Congrats John on your new career – from reading your comments, it’s clear the change in your life is in a positive direction and the future is bright! It’s also clear by hearing the comments made in recent days that we have a lot to be concerned about at Arctic Cat. A lot of goodwill and optimism that came with the Textron acquisition of AC has already been lost. IMO Arctic Cat does not enjoy a strong reputation from many consumers, and the dedication of many core die hard AC owners that has been tested since 2012 hasn’t been resolved. We have a lot of uncertainty right now and a parent company that really seems out of touch.

  19. I forget how I discovered ArticInsider, but it always reminded me of what makes winter great all year long. Its the search for the white gold.
    thank you John,,,

  20. Thank you John for all your dedication to this wonderful site. It is sad to think of all the change taking place at Arctic Cat. I grew up on Cat and worked at a dealer through high school and tech school in the late 80s and early 90s. I think there were 8 dealers within an hour of home and now we have one. Change was needed but they ousted someone that welcomed the people of Textron and was the heart and soul of Cat.

  21. Congratulations John on your new venture. I know it can be hard to start a new career. Thanks for all the great support of us Arctic Cat fans and the great articles you have given us. I have met and spoke with you at all the Walk for Wishes, Hunter’s, and Cat events and I appreciate the time you gave me.

    I’m pretty pissed right now and I’m not sure how this will end. I’ve posted my comments on the “Wish List” article about my feelings on Textron. I truly feel that you and the others including Tucker saw the writing on the wall when these idiots, Textron, took over. Now all you great people are gone.

    The hardest part of this, is the great people, Roger, Kirk, all the other Cat legends and you that are no longer associated with Cat. It truly breaks my heart. The hardest is Mr. Skime. “It’s not a job it’s my life”. Textron took this from him even when he told them this at the beginning when they first walked in. I will never forgive Textron for this. These jerks, Textron, took away the 50+ years of passion that Edgar and Roger created to make Cat what it came to be. They instilled the passion, love and loyalty of Cat in me for these 50 years. Textron took that all away. Not sure about my future with Cat now after all this. It’s going to be hard to get past this.

  22. John all I can say is thank you for your incredible hard work and dedication. We’ve exchanged emails on occasion going back to your time in Cat’s Pride and my work with Charles P. and the VSCA. Holy moly that was 20 years ago. Time flies, things change, sometimes not for the better. You don’t owe anyone anything. Your writing will stand the test of time. You are the Pat Bedard of snowmobiling, the David E. Davis of the sled internet. Class act all the way. Ride on….

  23. John thank you for the update, myself and others where wondering what the lack of updates meant. I am not sure I have anything more to add that others have not already said. I thank you for what you have done and I look forward to what else you might be able to provide for us. I love your road trip stories, the fork lift trip was GREAT.

    As for Textron, we (maybe just me) want to thank them for giving Cat a chance to survive. But some of what they have done since is just unbelievable. KICKING some of the core people to the cub, why because thier paychecks where a little large. I am purely guessing if these guys where approached and told we need to trim the budget can we reduce your hrs and check, I am guessing these guys probably would have been willing to work something out. But now many of the faces of cat are GONE!!! All in an effort to save a few dollars!

    My 3 and 7 year old know who Tucker and Kirk are. They know what Articat is! Last year my 7 year old wanted a a Tucker jacket, now he wants a FXR jacket. I asked him a couple weeks ago why and he said Articat is not doing good (we watch the snow cross races).

    Sad sad times, I hope things recover but I personally have my concerns.

    Thank you John, Roger, Kirk, Joey and all the others that made this brand that we all love ONCE great!

  24. John,
    Congratulations on the career change. I have read your posts for years and never commented. I grew up as a 3rd generation Cat rider. My family started riding cats in 1970 (39 new sleds in the family alone over the years). Our fourth generation is riding them today. We know the Great Hibbert family and were blessed to talk with the Passionate Mr. Skime many times at the race tracks. The kid’s even named our new black lab Tucker, because Tucker has been their hero and he signed everything we ever had while sitting on his lap. It pains a lot of us what is happening to “our brand” and the people “that’s passion” kept it alive all these years. I hope that the new owners understand the passion that keeps Cat riders coming back before it’s too late…….Best Wishes for you and your family John! Thank You for the great reading.

  25. John,
    Truly bummed to hear this news but excited to see you at the MTB races this summer. Glad to hear you’re able to find refuge in another industry that you’re passionate about with a fellow cat guy. You will soar there as you have here.

    I hope Textron keeps a handle on the pulse of Arctic Cat and what makes it’s customers so passionate about their products. Market share is one thing, not everything. The recent name change in the Off-Road side back to Arctic Cat seems like they’re listening. Let’s stay positive they’ll recognize the great history of Arctic Cat so our grandkids can share our same passion as well.

    Happy trails and best wishes on exploring John. Make tracks…

  26. I went thru Arctic Cat shutting down in the early 80’s, watched a lot of my grade school friends move away. I didn’t understand the impact at that time until I started working at Arctco in 1986. I was employee #409. I spent almost 30 yrs in the industry, left it 6 years ago as I saw what I believe is the demise on the horizon. Sucks to see Textron bring down an absolute icon. What’s next? A repeat of 40 years ago??

    Let Textron know how you feel folks.

  27. Stop blaming textron if they hadn’t bought cat no one else would have ,they have to make changes cat lost market share for 15 plus years in a row . Cat built to many sleds every year that nobody wanted and shoved them on dealers who couldn’t sell them , the line up has had way to many models for the last decade ,the 4 stroke sleds don’t sell well cat has enough left for 2 or more years of 7000 models and they have enough holdover mtn sleds nobody wants .textron is at least trying something different I will be ordering a 20 8000 rr ,I have 4500 miles on my 19 8000 rr just slightly burnt belly pan.Cat should have brought new people in a decade ago.

  28. Thanks for all you have done over the years. Good luck and happy riding. I hope I can ride with you again. I’m so proud to have a Arctic Insider sticker on my front door. You know what I mean. We have a great group of Green Blooded people and no one can take that away from us. Thanks.

  29. John,

    Thank you for everything you have done with this site. The content has been outstanding since you launched this thing. Your posts have always been insightful, thoughtful and entertaining; they have always reflected what we love most about snowmobiling and our hobbies. You are passionate and clearly, one hell of a good human being. God bless you and your family….I wish you all great health and happiness.

    As for Textron, well, there appears to be a lot wrong with how certain “issues” have been handled. All too corporate and what appears to be an unfortunate lack of understanding of this brand and it’s customer base. You can make all sorts of excuses for bad behavior, and you can always find a way to rationalize and justify a bad decision. But right is right, and wrong is wrong. It’s really painfully simple.

    It’s not economics that propelled Henry Ford and countless other visionaries to unfathomable success. It was sheer will and above all else, passion. The folks at Textron, who are now the stewards of this brand and it’s legacy would be very wise to reflect on this for a little while. They might not care enough. They probably don’t, and if that’s the case, there is no excuse. That is unacceptable.

    In closing, I want to remind everyone of the “BRP” story. Like this iconic brand, Ski Doo was once on the brink of extinction not too long ago. It was revived by a group of extremely intelligent, but more importantly, extraordinarily passionate people. The brand was literally, in their blood. The rest is history.

    There is always hope. Keep the faith.

  30. I’m really very happy for you John. Thanks for sharing your infectious, and often goofy, enthusiasm with us all over the years. You have been a master at telling the story of the brand for which there is no substitute, and the people who built it.

    Your perspectives and story telling strike a chord with anyone who’s ever been excited to go on an adventure aboard a machine built in Thief River Falls – and the person you are “behind the scenes” is even better.

    You always made your readers feel like true Arctic Insiders. As sincerely as I can possibly say this – Thank you!

  31. Cheers to you John!! Thanks for all the years of incite into the inner workings of AC. Good luck to you in your new endeavors and I hope and pray that the Arctic Cat snowmobile brand survives!!

  32. Thanks John for all of the great years of giving all of us Cat fans the best possible web site of all the snowmobile brands. I have looked at your site almost every day for many years and have enjoyed all of the articles about new products, plant news, race results, interviews with the Team Arctic legends, etc. Good luck in your new job and I hope we can get together again sometime.

  33. John, congratulations on your new employment. I am concerned about Arctic Cat and how Textron treating. This is common today companies comes in and clean house or get rid of brands in order to get profits similar to an investment firm would do. That is sad. This is similar to what those investment firms would do to other businesses.

    For me, I was born just after Arctic Cat began manufacturing and drove old family sleds in 1969 when I was already age 5 so when the Kitty Cat came out during first year, we got the sled in the family. This is where our loyality began with Arctic Cat as two other brands folded (We had the 69 Fox Trac and 70 Ariens Arrow) I loved the Cats. Even wrote letter to Arctic Enterprises in 74.. got a hat, a patch.. thanks for that! Then wrote again in 1985 after I did a design research (am a Freelance Transportation Designer) and people wanted that Z name back and hammerhead cowl like the 70s so I wrote and viola, they came out with the Prowler.. then the Z name.. You guess it. I may have had some responsibility for the hammerhead cowl design and name.

    Because of snowmobiles I grew up with, that brought my passion to design vehicles such as snowmobiles, automobiles, recreational vehicles, etc.

    I did not have that kind of money to start up own brand but I am always and still is always ahead of all brands both dead brands and the Big 4 brands. I cannot tell you what I have designed. But I can tell you that I came up with forward seating back in early 1990s. Before Ski Doo. I did come up with high travel in 1975 for my 1978 model year. Yes I have my own “brand” line up. It is now 75 different models. Bascially a dozen different platforms but all different engine sizes, suspensions, etc. Yes, I still have that old classic leaf suspension sled in my lineup. If Had the money… I would have bought the Cat brand then manufacture both Arctic Cats and my brand and I would have kept all the Cat brand names like the Panther, El Tigre, Cougar, Lynx, Puma, Pentera, and more.

    I cannot explain deeply about my own design because it is not built and not patented–yet. too expensive. Let me say this way.. got a lake racer type of sled, a sno-pro racing sled, a trail sled, a Manta/Trail Roamer-type, a cross over, a 2 up, a snow-bike, a kiddie sled similar to Kitty Cat, and yes, a secret I cannot say about the type of children sled.. that all brands are missing.. hee hee. a twin-tracker, a classic (leaf suspension), a high performance sled, a covered sled (you all remember the 70s Ski-Doo Wedge snowmobile? Also a hybrid, not a crossover, a hybrid that mixes between a snowmobile and a road tri-bike kind of like a Ski-Doo Spyder.. Ohhh.. I am telling you some stuff I should not say! Hahaha. OK, I need to shut my mouth.. Sorry folks!

    Arctic Cat should have been smart.. should have acquired other recreational products such as an RV company. it goes in hand to hand with that as well as a marine product and should have bought OMC. Not BRP! Grr. Well, maybe they should have bought Mercury. Should have also bought Harley-Davidson motorcycle company although we all know HD is feeling the same as the Cat at the moment. I was not happy with name dropped such as the beloved Panther, Pentera, and other names. yeah, its my fault that I said the Z in 1985! But I did not mean to say to get rid of all the names. Just for a model name Z! They are now using as ZR.

    I was really hurt to hear those greats were fired (“let go”) I am now approaching my 50th anniversary of being a designer (first one I did at age 8 then immediately after that, I did drafting for someone at that age!) Now you can tell how old I am. When the Cats factory lights out, I am out too.. retiring.

    OK.. enough of blah blah talk.. Take care John! Thank you!

  34. Hey John…had to read all the comments and let it settle in for a day or two before I responded… you have been such a breath of fresh air with Arctic Insider, you have done such a great job with this website and hopefully you can continue, congrats on your new venture, we first met at Edgar’s funeral, in Grand Rapids , you have done an outstanding job keeping people informed, as for Cat lets just hope that the ship keeps sailing , I agree with the others, how d you not keep the icons of this industry and sport and this family company on.. Im still in bewilderment on this.. I own Thief River and Roseau Minnesota sleds for many reasons, mainly because a family has a career here in this state and a job and are an important part of the economy of this state, because of these companies I lived and taught in a small town of Karlstad during the dark years of Cat in the early 80s . I saw how it effected the communities , families, the kids and the economics of those small communities… lets hope things keep upbeat and hope for best for our loyal fans out there.Take care my friend stay in touch

  35. I was watching the snow cross races and one of the sport class riders thanked Kirk and Roger, no idea if these guys are still working with the racers today or if this was just a thanks in general.

    Don’t want to take the light away from John but any one have any idea about Kirk, Roger or even Tucker today?

    And it was tuff to watch the rain today.

  36. Hi John,
    You certainly picked the right Calvin and Hobbes to describe your new future and all of the challenges and excitement it will create for you. I am sure that you spent many a night thinking about this new challenge along with some very long discussions with Mrs. Sandburg. Congratulations and the best of luck as you start a new phase in your and your family’s future!
    So many comments and thoughts about the future of Arctic Cat and Textron, all for another column.
    Again congratulations and the best of luck! Looking forward to your usual exceptional stories about Arctic Cat and maybe you can share some of your new adventure along the way!!

  37. @scott Kirk is still helping a number of Jr riders out of his own shop. Roger is still at almost all of the XC races. Same old wonderful Roger. On a positive note there is snow up the wazoo in northern MN. Epic sledding conditions.

  38. Gents,

    First of all, thanks to John for a great website, best wishes for your continued success. A week hasn’t gone by in the past 5+ years that I didn’t check in to read the posts. This is even as I left the AC brand several years ago (9 of my first 16 sleds puchased in the past 25 years were Cats). My businesses allowed me to work with the good folks at AC and I was so very fortunate to have Edgar Hetteen as a mentor – a real thrill. However, things do change. The facts are that the recreational vehicle business has become very competitive and complicated – the market has changed dramatically in the past 5 years, let alone the past 35. The die was cast in the 90’s and early 2000’s when AC leadership was late to market with key products – they usually did what Polaris did, only 5-7 years later and with less impactful products. I’m not here to say that AC products are inferior, that are not – they’re good and I would be happy to own one again. With that my final point is it’s time to move on, enjoy the products that they do offer – if you so choose, and be appreciative for the rich history of the brand. The choice is yours.

  39. Bobby Flame, Please take your totally childish comment someplace else! This is not the place!
    sorry about this John, not the place for this type of comment! Keep up the great work,
    What say you fellow Arctic Insiders?

  40. Very sad to hear there letting you and everyone who has made Arctic Cat go. I understand things had to change and could not stay the same but this is defiantly one of there BAD DECISIONS. You where one of the best promoters for the brand and where always a positive influence. I understand there reasoning for sled orders this year but there advertising has been terrible along with there new site. I hope they learn from there mistakes like the atv branding and listen to the dealers and customers. The lack of communication to consumers is not helping and putting doubts into everyone’s heads what they are doing with the brand. Wish you the best of luck in your new endeavor!
    PS Would be interested to see a list of everyone let go. wondering how deep this went.

  41. John,
    I’m honored to having met you, worked with and ridden with you.
    I wish you the very best in your new endeavor! Hopefully we can stay in touch and get out riding again at some point. Best of luck !
    Paul Hein

  42. @Kawcat, the list of who is still there would be probably be shorter, than the list of those who left. Also it seems that those who are still there, aren’t happy

  43. Sad to see the site go. There’s been a lot of good content here. Good luck in your new endeavor. Textron’s buyout has brought a ton of changes to Arctic Cat in the past couple of years, some good, some bad. But they’re learning and I know they’re in it for the long haul. Did they need to buy Arctic Cat? Absolutely not, but they saw potential there to turn it back into a profitable business. Snowmobiling is not as popular as it once was and business has to evolve with that. You can’t keep doing the same thing for years and years and expect to remain profitable. Shoving sleds that don’t sell down dealers throats year after year does not work. So yeah, you’re going to disappoint some customers by not offering a certain model anymore but it had to be done. Arctic Cat dug their own grave, Textron’s trying to dig them out. That’s how I see it anyway. Peace out John, happy trails.

  44. Well John…As they say, hindsight is 20-20. IMO, the writing was on the wall for Tucker to retire last spring already. His major Arctic Cat support was his father and of course, Roger. As far as Arctic Cat’s future, not sure what to say from all the gossip out there that I read everyday. Textron / Arctic Cat has a different approach for selling their 2020 sleds. People say how foolish is that. Well how foolish was the monorail Alpha sled that people said would never work. The other snowmobile manufacturers have the same issues with left over sleds from year to year and that has gone on for years. Textron’s strategy for 2020 maybe the way to go for the future sales to clean up on some remaining leftover sleds and 2021 may have a different approach.

    I make a motion to enter John into the snowmobile hall of fame from the many years of devoted Arctic Cat news and stories that we all loved.

    As far as Bobby Flame…. it’s better to remain silent and be thought of as a fool than speak and remove all doubt !

    Hope to see all at HayDays and god bless.

  45. I too, miss the regular postings and updates from John. Congrats on the new chapter in life and I hope this place will continue, along with Arctic Cat. Cheers from up here in Blairmorganville.

  46. It has been a pleasure knowing you and working with you the last several years. We had many good rides together.Best luck in your new endeavor.

  47. John,
    The first time we met was at the Schwinn bicycle shop you were working at back in 1983 or so. I was in picking up a new Schwinn Tempo (still got it). You recognized me from snow racing. We chatted and have been friends since. As a Sled Brother, I have been following your stories for years and have admired your dedication to your work. You should be dang proud of the trail you broke open and the cool path you laid down that has been fun to follow. Not many people have had the success and respect you created in your chosen field. Congrats and best of luck to you and your family.

  48. Thanks. To all of you. I appreciate the thoughts and words more than you can possibly know.

    A couple of housekeeping items:

    1. This site isn’t going anywhere. It contains a crap-ton of information that I want to keep accessible for a loooooooooong time.

    2. I will continue to post here. I promise.

    3. Bobby Flame is my good friend Kale, who’s instruction that I eat some turd is simply an inside joke. It’s all good.

    This place and the great dialogue that lives here is DEEPLY important to me. Thanks for bringing yourselves (and your thoughts) here!

  49. Sooo… I’ve been sitting on the sidelines digesting this turn of events. I must say, (ahem..) I am thankful for getting to know you and also for your deep regard and respect of the way our little decrepit group the F.H.U.C.S.T.I.C.S. operates. Things change over time and like you, our group has changed over the last 15 years. Just like many of the snowmobile groups that I belong to, whether it is the A.S.C.O.A., or the N.E.W.L.B.V.R., or one of the local clubs that put up the trails, it’s not about the sleds, it’s about the people involved. You brought a certain type of enthusiasm to the Arctic Cat brand that you don’t see in a product of any kind in today’s world. I am very enthused and look forward to logging into RollfastInsider. Everything that a person needs to get their 60’s single speed Rollfast up and running along with SearsFreeSpiritInsider and J.C.HigginsInsider. I hope to see you sneaking through a parking lot with your bedroll this September during the Haydays extravaganza. I wasn’t offended by Bobby Flame. He fits right in. Someday maybe we can get together and burn a brat and enjoy a few brewskis. Do you have any streamers for my Huffy Cheater Slick? Purple in color please.

  50. First, best of luck to you, John, in your new endeavors!

    As a former(thank goodness)dealer, I would agree with catman regarding Metz and Jordan, both bull**** artists with zero regard for the company. However, I would have to lay a good bit of blame with Twomey and the board for getting “dumb, fat, and happy”, and being more interested in dividends than keeping up product-wise. As much as I dislike Polaris, they innovated, and accelerated away, while ACAT fiddled. This layed the groundwork for failure. I won’t delve into the dealer side of things, but let me say that the way dealers were/are treated is despicable.

    Many years ago I was a dealer for another brand of equipment owned by Textron, and I watched as innovation stopped, quality control was completely disregarded, products were relabeled to sell in chain stores, and the whole enterprise was driven straight into the ground. Don’t be fooled by the airplanes and helicopters BS. The absolutely clueless EZ Go idiots are in charge all the way, and that is a heap of not good.

    Remember Roger Skime tearfully speaking about the “Gone Fishin'” period? Sadly, I think it’s time to organize and restock that tackle box.

    Best Regards to all the Arctic Cat faithful.

  51. John,

    All the best in your new adventures. Also a huge thank you again for posting my story of Arctic Cat a few years back. It’s still talked about at some gatherings. You will be missed, but you are your #1 priority, and I will always continue to come here and read articles from many years back. I too, am in favour for inducting you into the S.H.O.F.

    CAN SOMEONE PLEASE confirm if Roger was one of the one’s who no longer works for Arctic? since reading it has bothered me and some sort of update would make all of us feel better.

    Thank you!

  52. John,
    I always like it when you did your “Things you need to know about the (enter model year here) Snowmobiles”. Any chance you could fill us in on the changes made by AC for 2020? Most of us are wondering why they made the changes they did to the 800 C-Tech motor and if there will be any noticeable difference between it and the 18/19 motors? I know your not employed by AC anymore but I’m sure you have some intel on the new motor. Please share if you can.

  53. Feels like the end of an era.thanks for everything.I just sold everything and am retireing from the sport.Will always be interested though.

  54. K Hofland,

    I can 100% say that Roger is one of the ones who was fired from Arctic. He was notified before Christmas, and his last day was the end of January. Textron did have a part, in that they were the ones who gave the number of people to cut, but it ultimately was not Textron personnel who made the decision to put Roger off.

  55. Thanks John for all your hard work on a great site. I’ve read your articles for many years and this is the first time I’m commenting. I’ve owned Cats since 1972, the first being a 1970 Panther 634. From that sled on I was hooked owning a total of 24 Cats to date. My wife and I went on a Cat’s Pride ride to Yellowstone and rode with C J Ramstad and we also attended the 50th anniversary in 2012. Needless to say my blood is green. That being said, I’m dismayed by the negative comments about Textron by some Cat faithful. In my opinion they should be given more than two years to turn the company around. I find it hard to believe they would purchase a company for 249 million and 100 million in debt just to lose it all. I just hope they’re listening to some of the good ideas that people bring up on this site and they become more transparent on their future plans so they squash the rumors that aren’t true. I want my grand kids to grow up to ride and love Cats as much as I do. P.S. I talked to two Cat employees at the Sno Cross races this past weekend in Lake Geneva. One with 24 years and the other with 30 years and both were very upbeat about the future and said it’s still a great place to work. They also mentioned that Rodger still shows up every day.

  56. Tom P. Well said. I have had that same thought since day 1. Things won’t change overnight, and while the cuts are hard to swallow, there is a reason why Arctic was in trouble. Some of it had to do with the decisions made by many of those who are now gone no doubt. Give Textron time to turn it around, if they don’t then i guess we will know in 5 years or so.

  57. John,

    First of off I want to say “THANKS!” for entertaining and informing all of us Cat enthusiast for so many years. Made a lot of us feel like we were walking next to you during factory tours or standing right there while you were interviewing Roger Skime, or on a road trip with Dimmerman and Rowland.

    I wish you well on your next endeavor, sometimes change is good and brings you rewards you never though were possible. I do hope you continue to write here, and as I said before, I credit you for helping me to find my own ‘voice’ in writing, and being an inspiration for doing so.

    So, good luck, thanks for all you have done, and thanks for all the ‘insider’ words…

    -Joe Rainville

  58. Thanks John, keep us posted on what’s happening-best wishes to you. I agree with tom P and BleedGreen, changes don’t happen over night. I’m not gonna knock Textron for some of their decisions as i am not privy to all their inside workings and what needed to be done to make corrections- whether we think it was wise or not. I am optimistic of the future from where I’m standing- joint deal with Yami, and deals with CATERPILLAR and Tracker. Think of what the alternative may have been without TEXTRON.

  59. ArcticInsider:
    I was angry when Textron said they wouldn’t need your services any longer. That unique transparency that the Insider brought to all of us, not necessary any more. Wow !
    John Sandberg, what can I say..Every passion has their exceptional writers, John is ours. What a great story teller.. I mean a GREAT storyteller ! He’s a good friend and mentor. My respect is off the charts.. Your inspiration helped me to scribble a few of my litterbox tales to share with you all. Thank you John sincerely.
    I have no doubt you will succeed in this new venue.
    Arctic Cat had a unique approach to marketing. I believe it started with Cat’s Pride and the Arctic newsletter way back in the 70’s. They felt a need for transparency about the employee’s input into the product. By sharing it with the public, it would bring the consumer closer to the passion. Faces with names of Arctic personnel became buzzwords with the Cat customer. Slowly but surely the consumer identified with people like Skime and Hetteen as well as most of the engineers and design teams. How many other companies have personally introduced you to the peoples of their internal divisions; Engine, drive train, styling, testing teams, production lines,special events personal, clothing designers,and of course race teams? We all felt we WERE INSIDERS. In my opinion, that’s why Arctic Cat was so successful. That’s how they grew their loyalty. John’s creation of ArcticInsider is the cyber version of Cat’s Pride. It also gives the ability for the reader to speak his opinion in writing. Forum interaction is huge today. I can’t see this sport without it. I know there are tons of people that read the “Insider” and never write a word,and that’s ok. They come to fuel their passion for a few moments a week. John brightens their day.
    Arctic Cat made lots of mistakes along the way, but there were lots more significant innovations that are milestones today. This last mistake had brought them to there knees once again. We were all there watching it happen. I believe they thought they were doing the right thing, trying to position the company for the next decade. But it didn’t work..I remember only to well the emptiness that filled me 38 yrs ago when Arctic closed it’s doors in bankruptcy. Sure I felt sad that I had lost my dream job as a Team Arctic race driver. But as the time went on I felt worse about all my friends in Thief River that lost their livelihood. That same feeling has returned…How does this new leadership plan to move forward ? It appears at the start their going to obliterate anything that’s old !.
    Textron:. After the purchase they made some early cuts in personnel. All of them were my friends. I was angry. Then I thought about it a little more and realized a new deal has to be implemented. The sport has changed and so should the business model strategy.
    What they didn’t do was come in and liquidate it, like last time. We need to give it time to let them play their hand. Roger Skime left a lot of good people there.They just need the right direction. Certainly we’re going to armchair their moves but we are talking about a HUGE company here with great resources. How do you sell 50 million dollar Cessna business jets? I doubt they would use Orville and Wilbur Wright in their ad campaign. Maybe ‘Old’ Arctic is not going to cut it with the next generation of buyers. We’re not privy to the big picture. All we can do is watch and wait..

  60. John,

    I commend you for chasing a new path. I did the same thing a couple years ago. From retiring to getting back into the same career path but changing locations twice. This current organization is the best by far I have ever worked for. Change is scary and exciting. The Good Lord has plans for us and leads us to where we need to be when we really need it.

    Since Racing ended for Megan and our Team, I have only made it to 1 Haydays and 1 race. The first year I was lost. Psychologically it was very difficult on me. I have however focused on my new job and am loving life again. I have returned to some prior passions and am restoring some old MX bikes. I will always love snowmobiles, but physical issues prevent me from riding without pain, So for now I have 14 great years of Memories in Snocross and Team Arctic.

    Sometimes we leave the spotlight and the hustle bustle, but we are always still there. I appreciate all you have done over the years and will look forward to the times you have to post. However. As you know your kids grow fast. Spend time with them and love and live your life. We all know just how fast that can change. We learned that again very close last fall when my youngest daughters close friend was killed in an ATV crash at 12 yrs old. She was always at our house growing up so it hit home extremely hard. Spend every minute you can with family and don’t apologize for it.

    Your a great man John and have always been a great friend as well.

    God Bless and take care.

  61. John,
    I wish you the best in your new endeavor and THANKS for all the good reads you have provided!
    I guess we will have to just wait and see what happens to Arctic Cat and when it will be sold. Textron Inc. has made so many changes in its corporate identity over the years it is more or less known as an investment company do to the fact that they have purchased and sold or closed and wrote off so many companies. Even though it has ruined so many companies it has, however, consistently earned a profit for its stockholders. For that reason, many investors may not care what it does so long as it keeps generating a profit for them.

  62. John
    Best of luck at QBP, going to miss all the great insite on the new iron.
    Maybe textron will come to their senses and one day bring you back to the inside!
    Wish Roger the best, they should have handled that situation far better and allowed Roger to at least leave gracefully.
    I’m hopeful textron will allow Arctic Cat to bring back the Boys from Thief River days but that maybe asking to much in These internet driven times.
    Take Care neighbor

  63. Eric you hit the nail on the head with your comment about Textron last time I checked the were divided into 135 Subsidiaries. I believe the last business they just up and closed was Dixie Chopper as they shut down production the end of February.

  64. John,
    April 1st will not be the same again as your annual column column for this date are long gone…

    I looked forward to them and the comments of those who didn’t realize what it day is was posted on.

    Your announcement with Calvin and Hobbes leading the way blended the humor of Bill Watterson that can now be seen in your April 1st yearly posts.

    You often mentioned CJ Ramstead and I too saw the familiarity of your writing to his, both of you could capture the inner feelings of the reader and bring them along for the ride.

    Best of luck in wherever life takes you.


  65. Dudes! Someone is posting as me! That is so rad! Is Arctic Cat really going bankrupt? Are they having a liquidations? No one ever responded about how to join the Black Cats. Where is everyone going to go since this site is dead?

  66. Just wait till the sleds are at Bass Pro Shops. Maybe this is why cat dealers are being terminated. Straight from a Textron meeting.

    Cai Von Rumohr — Cowen and Company — Analyst

    Yes. Thanks so much. So, could you give us a little more color on the TRACKER deal? As I read the release, they are coming out with some dirt product under their brand name. Do you produce that product? And kind of what’s the basis of your agreement?

    Scott Donnelly — Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

    So, we do. So, the whole partnership here, Cai, is that we provide the engineering and manufacturing, and Bass Pro and their TRACKER independent dealers provide the distribution channel. So, we do talk about it as a partnership. It’s not a conventional sort of, “Hey, we wholesale and you do retail.” We work — kind of have been working together on the design, the branding, really tailoring this around what Johnny and his team want to take through that channel under the TRACKER brand.

    It’s a great relationship. We’re sort of a both guys win kind of a deal. They are a great company, got a lot of great people. Nobody knows the retail side of outdoor sports like they do.

    So, it’s been something where we bring sort of the technical and manufacturing capability, and they bring the branding and distribution side.

    Cai Von Rumohr — Cowen and Company — Analyst

    And do they do snow also? Or is it only — is it only OFF ROAD?

    Scott Donnelly — Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

    They will do some snow in some of their stores, obviously, in selected regions. And where they do that, they will do that under the Arctic Cat brand because the Arctic Cat brand is — I mean, that obviously, that brand stands for itself in the snow side.

  67. Here is some more of it that mentions the Tracker stuff

    Sheila Kahyaoglu — Jefferies — Analyst

    Great. And then on Industrial, maybe can you provide an update on where you are with the restructuring, what the size of the specialized vehicle business should look like? Where Scott in it — is — with his progress on the dealer channel and the product update?

    Scott Donnelly — Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

    Well, I think the actions that we took in the fourth quarter were largely around sort of addressing some of the cost issues, adjusting some of the product portfolio, frankly, some of that on the curbside, a couple of product lines that we chose to exit. We just didn’t see that that was going to be a long-term profitable business for — in some of those particular product line, so we exited some of those things. So, between the cost and some of the portfolio and manufacturing footprint rationalization, that largely happened in the fourth quarter. We’ll see a little of that trickle here into the first quarter, but most of it is behind us.

    So, I think that the team has a very good plan and is executing quite well in terms of getting our arms around the operational side. Obviously, the other thing, which we’ve talked about in the past is something that would be a more difficult thing. Something that takes longer to build out is the distribution and addressing that side of it. This partnership that we announced with Bass Pro and TRACKER is obviously something we’re very excited about.

    Building our distribution in strong retail channel is quite difficult, so the opportunity to partner with the guy that’s the best in the world at that, I think, will be a great thing for the business in that mid to longer term. So, we’re obviously, working very closely with them right now on the rollout of the product into that channel. So, as we look at 2019, I think we’re in a — we’re obviously, in a much, much better place than where we were. So, I think what the team is focused on, our operations and now growing out that new distribution channel, will be resulting in delivering a good year, I think.

    And then with good momentum going into 2020 and beyond.

  68. Who is going to service the products? Are they going to be qualified to repair modern technology advanced products? Who is going to deal with all the warranty issues?

    This is keep a lot of people from purchasing a sled. You just made me a Polaris buyer.

  69. JJ, I listen to and read the transcripts of the quarterly conference calls. Not surprisingly, with Textron’s ownership the calls are 99.44% about aviation and defense. The “Industrial Segment” is not often questioned by analysts, let alone Arctic Cat specifically, which is just a footnote now. The next call in a couple weeks just might reveal some interesting morsels.

    TP, when I was a dealer Large Mouth Bass had many locations with no technicians(like Gander Mtn), or poorly trained hackers. We were begged regularly by the Tech Service reps to take in units from their irate customers. Arctic Cat did put their foot down, to some extent, and push them to get trained techs. Those calls for service bailouts did subside, but I can’t say it is because they have better techs or not.

    In the end, Textron’s market share is zip, and that is not likely to change with their uncompetitive, make that moribund, product offerings. I just don’t see the EZ Go dolts pulling a rabbit out of their hat.

  70. G2bG: I have watched this in the automotive industry for years. Improved product resulted in qualified people to leave industry. Wage never grew, tech and processes got more complicated. I don’t see this turning out well for Cat. And with Textron noted for disassembling companies for profit, I see no up side for anyone….especially the customer.

  71. 303wankle: Let us hope. Same for the name. I see them using Cat technology with their engines. As for the name and the Thief River Falls manufacturing, I hope so. Good people up there and they are the backbone of Cat. Without them….it wouldn’t be a Cat!

  72. I think maybe we need a large gathering of disappointed dealers and customers to show up and ask for some questions to finally be answered at haydays.

  73. JJ: That isn’t a bad idea. Maybe this and other sites can put the word out. A large gathering of unhappy people may send a message to Textron that their decisions could bring an outcome they could not predict in a boardroom. Hitting them where it hurts has far greater impact than just a few unhappy customers complaining. I am sure Wall Street will take notice and respond accordingly.

  74. Who knows if they will care since they are terminating a bunch of dealers. Which you won’t hear much about because they are getting some dealers to sign a “mutual agreement” in which it will look like its the dealers choice to part ways and they can’t say much or mention it or they may loose some benefits. But expect a large decline in dealers come 2020 and 2021.

  75. Well they finally admit to part of the slashing dealers

    from powersports finance “Arctic Cat parent company Textron is slashing powersports dealer relationships as it works to maximize profitability and dial back rebates. Specifically, the company will only produce snow vehicles that have been pre-sold and has ended partnerships with the “vast majority” of its off-road dealers in situations where the company found the relationship wasn’t profitable, Chief Executive Scott Donnelly said in the company’s second-quarter.”

    The part of relationship not being profitable though is bs. Cause last month if a big dealer sold 20 side by sides they gave a kick back of $1250 per unit. So that is $25,000 in kickback that Arctic Cat would pay back the dealer. So now 10 small dealers all sell 2 side by sides in that same time frame they wouldn’t meet the kickback amount so $0 in kickback that Arctic Cat would give back to the dealer. Which means Arctic Cat makes $25,000 more.

    Peter Arment — Robert W. Baird & Co — Analyst
    Scott, could you just give us a little more color on how things are going in terms of within the Industrial segment, particularly, I guess, specialized vehicles. Format seem to be a little better than I think a lot of us were expecting. What’s — how is the Bass Pro kind of rollout going? Just maybe some color there.
    Scott C. Donnelly — Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
    Sure. No, there’s a couple of things there, Peter. First of all, obviously, from an operational performance standpoint, the business is doing much better. Historical businesses where we’ve had a very strong position and good performance for a long time in golf and ground support equipment and areas like that. Our sales performance is back where it should be, guys are doing very well, the markets are healthy, and again, the teams operational execution is quite strong in the off-road world, we’re down [Indecipherable] that’s quite conscious. Right?
    We’re working very, very hard to make sure that we do a much better job in terms of how we manage those retail channels. Snow is a good example, the position that we took this year as we said, guys, we’re only going to pre-sell. When you look at the North American market, which is obviously the vast majority of the market in the snow world, we went out with our program. And so guys were only going to build what we’ve already sold. So we went around and have deposits from customers, this product line is basically sold out. And so we’ll be here through the whole third quarter manufacturing all those units and shipping them out, but unlike in previous years where we’ll be putting a lot of inventory out into the field and dependent on how that sold through, and then getting into rebating if it’s not selling through. We said, we’re just not going to do that. So we’re going to do only a presale and that was frankly a very successful program. We saw very strong demand across the product line, but were pre-sold.

    So on the dirt side, obviously, that’s a longer and sort of a little bit of a different selling season as you go through there. But again, we’re being very, very cautious about how we manage that channel, how much inventory we allowed to be out into that channel, we did awful lot of hard work on looking at individual dealers and making sure that we have relationships where that relationship is a profitable relationship for both us and the dealer. And as a result, we’ve dramatically reduced the number of deals that we had out there. Because when we went back and looked at some of them by the time you get through the rebating, it’s not a profitable relationship. And so, we’ve taken the pains of terminating relationships with the vast majority of those folks.

    Specifically on the Tracker front, obviously, the Bass Pro, Cabela and their independent Marine dealers is terrific channel, extraordinarily well run, very, I would say, delivered around what it does in terms of inventory. So in terms of how they manage is quite consistent with how we want to manage the business going forward. So we’ve been seeing a lot of activity and load-ins across both stores and independent dealers here over the last six months, that obviously will continue through the balance of the year. We like the trajectory, the momentum is building. So I think when you look year-over-year, Peter, we’re much happier with where that business is, both in terms of its — how it operates everyday, how it thinks about managing some of those channels. Some of the issues we had last year would be late with some of the new products. Obviously, that’s — those products did get the market and I think we have a great product lineup.

    We just have to be a very measured about how we manage the channels and how much inventory we allow to be out there to reduce risk and make sure that we have a good profitable business.

  77. “Robert Spingarn — Credit Suisse — Analyst

    For example, how does the channel fill work with the Tracker product against streamlining your other distributors?
    Scott C. Donnelly — Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

    On the off-road side, we have — I’ll tell you the Tracker, the way that the — the inventory and stocking model works in Bass Pro and Cabela and their dealers is a very disciplined process. It’s a very healthy process and we feel very good about how that’s going, and the way the team there manages that. It’s a great partnership. We’re pleased with how it’s going and very comfortable with just how they do business and how they manage that business.

    I talk a little bit about the other piece of the channel around snow. We’re just — guys, we have some very, very good deals out there, particularly a lot of our dealers who have a long history with that brand in the snow side. As I said, we’re being extraordinarily disciplined with how we do that and how we manage that and we’ll do that on the dirt side as well, because it is largely those same dealers of guys that are historical snowmobile dealers that are carrying that Arctic Cat brand of dirt. And by the way, they are very complementary channels. Right?

    The strength of that channel under that Arctic Cat brand tends to be in the northern parts of the US and Canada where the snowmobile country exists. And in most of the rest of the country happens to be where the Bass Pro, Cabela’s and their independent Marine dealers are very strong. So it gives us in total, I think a very strong distribution network.

    Robert Spingarn — Credit Suisse — Analyst

    Okay. And then just a whether question on dirt versus snow?

    Scott C. Donnelly — Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

    Well, I’d say it’s a lot less dependent, snow is very dependent on the snow season. Again, this is part of why we want to sort of insulate ourselves from that by saying, guys, we’re in a pre-sell. So those snowmobiles are going to be built and that will be shipped and they’re paid for and that will all happen before there’s — we even get into the snow season. So by design, we were trying to insulate ourselves from that one way or the other. Of course, we look very hard at what’s out there in the inventory, the inventory levels of our products Frankly ended up at a very low level last year. Well below where we originally targeted and that was because it did seem a relatively in most parts a good snow — strong snow season. And so our dealers did retail through a lot of product. So I think it puts us in a very healthy position. We have a fairly low level of inventory out there and we’ve already pre-sold all of our 2020 models that are going out. Dirt is more difficult. I mean, essentially more difficult. I mean it’s not as weather-dependent, right? You’ve got a spring season, a fall season, it’s not — it really doesn’t — isn’t driven by particular weather cycle on the dirt side.”

  78. I read the whole transcript. It’s the same old smoke and mirrors. Like it’s the dealer’s fault that the company has not produced competitive products for years, has never rolled out the four-seat, let alone turbo versions of the XX that has now been on sale for a couple seasons. You avoid rebates by designing products that are in demand by the buying public, and allowing dealers to place orders for what they feel are manageable quantities. Their M.O. has always been to have products several years behind the competition, force dealers to stack units to the sky or risk being left out of programs and penalized, which inevitably leads to continuous fire-sale pricing and rebates to dump said units. There are three things that matter in the powersports business, PRODUCT, PRODUCT, and PRODUCT. To blame this debacle on the long-suffering dealers is beyond insulting, and further proof how clueless these people are.

  79. In today’s financial news there was an article about Textron “exploring possibilities” for it’s automotive fuel system operation, Kautex. If they are discussing it, that likely means there is already a deal in the works.

  80. Well it sounds like it could be up to 200+ dealers that will be getting terminated. Or as Textron calls it a “Mutual Agreement”

  81. Hearing rumors that now cat may have a few 2020 models sleds available once all the spring orders are delivered. Wonder if that will be one more lie the textron folks pull.

  82. They sang that build-to-order song before. Going into the 2014 model year they FORCED us to buy 2.5 times our prior year sales in Wildcats, or lose AIP and access to rebates, etc. “We are only going to build what is ordered. No quick ship inventory”, they said. All this in the face of the 1000XP coming out. Sales cratered, we had them stacked to the sky, and they still built trainloads of extra machines, which they then dumped at fire-sale prices to their “golden boy dealers” who could sell below our invoice, and make more profit than we could make at full pop. Made us look like idiots, and left us with big flooring interest payments as AIP wore off. This was obviously even before Textr… errrr… EZ GO. I was told by the Western Regional Manager(DF)that I was too negative. That pencil-neck-geek. The most unethical people I ever dealt with.

    If their proverbial lips are moving, it’s a LIE.

  83. Sounds like unless you are one of Arctic Cat’s prized stores then the Bass Pro guy is making sure any dealer within 50 miles of a Bass Pro Shop, Cabelas, or a Tracker dealer are shut down and terminated.

  84. anyone else compare cat to tracker prices? Prowler Pro =$14,999. Tracker 800SX = $10,999. and tracker has half the freight charge…cannot see any difference in specs.

  85. Trying to think of a nice slogan for a T-shirt to wear at Haydays for when I visit the Arctic Cat tent. Maybe something like Fuxtron.

  86. Good article in ST magazine. Glad to, you can find a summary on line if you Google. Sad but reflects the changing marketplace for power sports and especially the snow product industry. I would quit dissing Textron as they are what they are, a conglomerate with little passion for sleds. As they say, it beats the alternative. Time to move forward, as the die was cast with Twomey and Co. several years ago. Bad decisions – late to ATV and UTV market, the twin spare products, hiring Claude Jordan, etc., etc. Sales peaked in late 2000’s while PII and BRP continued to grow take market share. Either stay with what Cat is today or move on to another brand.

  87. Textron has always disassembled companies for profit. Cat is just the next in line. Sad to think the sport may be coming to an end. But no one said it was to go on forever. Weather has changed and snow is becoming an endangered species also. Who knows what the next 25 years will bring. Regardless of who or how the decisions were made, this is where they are. How it ends…?

  88. Stuff about Textron has eliminated many dealers and employees. The billionaire Cabela, Tracker, Bass Pro owner, Johnny Morris is entering a deal with Textron to market Cat dirt machines under the Tracker off road brand. Cat dealers have very few dirt machines. Textron has canceled sponsorships, racing support, etc, etc. There is speculation that snow sleds are still an unknown. It’s basically the magazine is asking arctic cat the same questions everyone else has been asking them.

  89. Glad2, please know my comments were not directed at you, just the group as a whole. I empathize with what you went through; a frustrating and money losing situation to say the least and appreciate the insight.

  90. From

    Contrary to industry rumors that Arctic Cat is on the skids, the manufacturer is turning a profit now and has plans to release new snowmobile models soon. That was the word from Cat officials at Hay Days this past weekend.

    Craig Kennedy, Arctic Cat’s vice president, made a point of calling together the snowmobiling media at Hay Days to dispel a glut of rumors about Cat floundering, and possibly being purchased by other sled makers. Such rumors have been rife this past year and since Arctic Cat was purchased by Textron Inc. in January 2017 for $247 million in cash.

    Kennedy forcefully denied all the bad juju while admitting that Arctic Cat has not communicated its plans well to the media.

    The plan, he said, was first to set Cat up to make a profit, which he says the OEM is now doing. To make that happen, Arctic Cat has begun cutting down the number of its dealerships and heavily scaling back on race team sponsorships, which Kennedy said had reached roughly 400 racers at $1,000 to $2,000 minimums each. He said Cat will continue to sponsor racers, but at a much lower overall cost, and it will be much more selective of which teams and racers it backs.

    The various cost-cutting moves have put Arctic Cat back in the black, says Kennedy. It also ensures the OEM will be able to offer new snowmobiles, which he says a large team of engineers has been working on for years already. Riders should expect to see at least one new 2021 sled, maybe more, by late this year or early 2020.

    Kennedy also promised that the 800+ workers at the Arctic Cat plant in Thief River Falls, Minn., will be keeping their jobs. He said ensuring a quality workforce there is his top priority now.

  91. This part is absolute BS

    The plan, he said, was first to set Cat up to make a profit, which he says the OEM is now doing. To make that happen, Arctic Cat has begun cutting down the number of its dealerships and heavily scaling back on race team sponsorships, which Kennedy said had reached roughly 400 racers at $1,000 to $2,000 minimums each.

    If they are profitable it is because of cutting dealers to make the Tracker Off Road guy happy. Not cause a dealer cost them money. Dealerships in no way cost Arctic Cat crap. They dealer has to pay the interest to have the inventory on hand. So this bull about getting rid of only the bad dealers is BS they got rid of good dealers just as much as bad ones. Its all to do with being to close to a Tracker Dealer.

    And of course they will release a new sled in the future. Question is if they don’t meet their quota next spring order will they just drop it all together.

  92. No new product, chopping racers and killing dealers? How is this going to get a customer in the door? I won’t purchase from a organization that can not service the product. It would appear that the press statement is rather ridiculous. And yet no one talks about the lawsuit based on the Cat purchase by Textron. The drama continues.

  93. ck,
    What do you see as the endgame? Are they trying to tidy it up to dump it, and are there any realistic prospects, or is it really what I view to be the end of the road?

    I wish you well in your new endeavor. Sadly, I can not, and will not support Polaris in any way, shape or form, but wish you well, just the same.

  94. Thanks CK for the update, I’m sure that day Textron notified all you dedicated people of layoff will stick with you forever. It’s great you found work close to home. A local dealer told me they can’t get dirt machines to sell, apparently the factory is busy building Bass pro machines??? It’s so sad to see what they are doing to the whole cat brand. I do feel confident the same ambition, drive, vision that brought us the thundercat, f7, snopro, turbo is alive somewhere and will resurface. This is something you just can’t stop. Thank you

  95. And now Robby Gordon is making his own side by side with out Textron’s help. Because as Textron told him directly that they have no interest in a 4 seater or turbo side by side. It will be interesting to see what agreements they came to regarding things on the XX since many of the things they are using on it are patents owned by Robby and not Textron.

  96. RG is a talented driver, and has a lot of knowledge. However, details and deadlines are never part of his equation. What I have read so far is full of bravado, and hyperbole, but they are taking non-refundable(according to attendees of the launch at SSSS)deposits for a unit that is 12-18 months out, depending on which story you believe, with a mythical engine that resembles a Z1, etc. Vehicle production is vastly different from building some race cars. I personally think folks putting blind faith in the aura of RG are looking for heartaches.

  97. Catguy – I was one of the Design Engineers whom was heavily involved in the design and testing of the dirt products from the XR machines (what the current ATV designs were originally called, and what we referred to them in house by) and the WC Trail/WC Sport/ WC/ WC X/WC XX and as well as the H1/H2/Kymco 700/Yamaha 998 engine development programs –

    I also hold a few patents through AC as well – and was also involved in aiding the snow side as well on various platforms

    So suffice to say I know quite a bit regarding the vehicles/engine development projects/testing/project costs/calibration schedules/timelines etc. as well as all the managers on both sides and background on all of the CEO transitions/Textron buyout that occurred there. It was frustrating to see the destruction of the company from the inside

  98. Catguy: Thank you for the offer. I eventually found it. Search engines can be pretty strange, as when I searched by title, or direct terms it never showed up, but when searching something AC related, but a completely different subject, there it was.

    ck: I have a feeling that we may have met at the WC intro in Barstow?? Is the tech support staff still in TRF? SJ, who also had his own crankshaft recon shop, was fantastic to work with, and the customer service folks would send disgruntled owners from other dealers to us, because we would ‘bulldog’ a problem until it was fixed. Just a few of the folks who really tried to do the right thing. Take care!

  99. Glad2bgone : I have read many of your posts. just curious if you no longer sell cat what lines are you selling?

    I may buy something from you

  100. catguy: I am in “a southwestern state” 😉

    drop the mic: Thank you for saying that, but I have left the industry, and am retired. It was a second career for me, having been in business my whole life, and I am sad to say it is the most anti-dealer industry of the many that I have ever been involved in. Rather than fight the “stealership” stigma, the manufacturers have embraced it, and encourage dealers to… ahem… take full advantage of the F&I scam office. This takes the focus off the fact that there is no honest margin left in the product.

  101. I have seen some information, as well as a youtube video of RG’s presentation at the SSSS in Costa Mesa. He is saying ChroMo frame, and 225 HP, plus initial purchasers will be given a key to unlock 300 HP. I have not seen any clarification on the Z1-esque engine. People who spoke to RG and TR at the show were told it will be manufactured offshore, and may/may not be assembled in the US. Strong indications they may have partnered with the Chinese reverse-engineering specialists at Hisun. Historically, their stuff is about a half-step above the Chinese minibikes sold at Pep Boys or TSC. Talk about a sketchy proposition.

  102. Eldon Smith says: What Arctic Cat, their dealers and customers need is a person or persons with excellent managerial skills, famous, talented, hardworking, commonsense and that have a passion for this sport and other motorized motor sports and aaaaaaaaaaaaaaalot of money to buy out CAT from Textron Inc., like Jay Leno, Tim Allen, “IRON MAN” Tom Cruise, “ARNOLD”, “ROCKY”, “THE ROCK” and many other famous STARS to show some excitement in our industry! These individuals all enjoy motorsports and this is what ARCTIC CAT NEEDS to “KEEP RACING AHEAD”! I am 62 years old and I would hate to see Arctic Cat vanished out of the snowmobile and ATV world. I have been in this sport since 1968 and Arctic Cat showed the world with Edgar and Roger “WHAT SNOWMOBILING IS ALL ABOUT”! I like Arctic Cat and what they the people at the factory gave to our sport! Cat was always a star in the sled world with their ideas, creativity and excitement! I believe that everyone who is a CAT FAN, CUSTOMER, and DEALERS would miss this brand tragically! I believe Yamaha, Polaris and Ski-Doo would all suffer if CAT is OUT OF THE PICTURE! I hope and pray that Edgar’s dream continues!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THANK- YOU ALL and I hope that we have a great snow belt winter throughout the entire world this winter! BS I want to try out my fairly new 2016 Arctic Cat ZR 6000 SNO-PRO LTD 137″,black with my own touch of CAT GREEN ! SEE YOU ALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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