Last Friday, after 30 years of dedication to their jobs at Arctic Cat, Lauretta and Roy Blomker stepped out of their weekly routine and into retirement. Happily and graciously, I should add.
Lauretta has worked in Accounts Payable for 30 years while Roy leaves his position as Manager of Drafting & Technical Illustration in the snowmobile engineering department.
The husband/wife pair was part of the original group of employees hired in the early days of Arctco as it emerged from the ashes of Arctic Enterprises in 1983 and, as I talked with them last week about their careers, much of the discussion centered on those early days of the reprised company.
“In the fall of 1983 I was looking for a new job,” said Roy. “Lauretta had just gotten hired at Arctco and I thought maybe there would be a job for me too. I called up Roger Skime and brought him my portfolio. He hired me as a temporary employee to help with parts books for the 1984 models. I completed the work far faster than he expected, so he hired me full-time.
“At that time, I never contemplated how big Arctic Cat would become. We went from two models in 1984 to something like 120 models of snowmobiles, ATVs and Side-by-Sides.”
This photo from the the 1 Millionth Arctic Cat celebration in the summer of 2010 shows the group of employees at Arctic Cat who had been with company when it was relaunched for the 1984 season. On the far left is Roy and Lauretta Blomker.
Lauretta had similar thoughts about the difference between now and 30 years ago:
“When I was hired in the summer of 1983, we used to sit at round tables scattered throughout the room. There were no offices or dividers. Chris Twomey (who would become President in 1986) had an office in what had formerly been a bathroom.”
When asked what it’s like to be the person who writes checks on behalf of Arctic Cat, Lauretta’s response was classic: “Well… I’ve spent a lot of money for this company!”
Roy was philosophical when talking about what it meant to work at Arctic Cat.
“We work directly for the company, but I learned a long time ago that who we really work for are our customers. And it’s our job to create wonderful products and experiences for them. We’ve been so fortunate to be part of this Arctic Cat family… the people here in Thief River Falls and our customers all over the world.”
Lauretta and Roy pose with their son Nathan during the retirement party last week. Nathan is the Senior Industrial Designer at Arctic Cat.
While it was clear that Roy and Lauretta had great memories of those early years at Arctco, their strongest feelings seemed directed towards their son, Nathan, who is the Senior Industrial Designer at Arctic Cat and the guy who penned the styling for the ProCross/ProClimb machines and the Wildcat UTV.
Lauretta described how Nathan got hired at Arctic Cat:
“Roy was overwhelmed with work at one point when Arctco was growing and understaffed, so I suggested that he have Nathan help with illustrating some of the parts books. Nathan was still in high school but was able to work for Roy in the evenings. When Nathan was finished Roy very privately told me that Nathan just didn’t do the job quite perfectly enough.
“I told Roy that this was Nathan’s first experience at this work and if Roy could just put his little touches of perfection to the drawings they would be just fine. He accepted my suggestion and Nathan has been doing work here ever since.”
“It’s been so fun and rewarding to watch Nathan grow with Arctic Cat,” said Roy. “He’s made us proud and happy beyond words, and having him here at Arctic Cat to carry on the family tradition is a blessing.”
What’s ahead for Roy and Lauretta?
“We’re going to spend more time with our grand children,” said Roy. “And I have 100 hobbies besides all the stuff Lauretta wants me to do.”
I offer my sincerest thanks to Lauretta and Roy for their 60 years of combined passion and employment at Arctic Cat, and wish them the very best in retirement.
Thanks for reading.
And special thanks to Duane Rux for the Blomker family photos.