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Legends Retire: Arctic Cat Engineers Begin Next Chapter

Legendary Arctic Cat snowmobile engineers retire. Photo by

L-to-R: Darrel Janisch, Donn Eide, Kim Chervestad, Ron Bergman, Russ Ebert and Greg Spaulding.


Celebration and sadness unfolded in equal measure this past week with the retirement of six legendary Arctic Cat engineers: Donn Eide, Greg Spaulding, Kim Chervestad, Ron Bergman, Russ Ebert and Darrel Janisch.

A party was thrown in their honor last Wednesday, at which great speeches were given about the impact each man made in the history of Arctic Cat. Posters were signed, hands were shook and hugs were given with the kind of sentiment felt when men and women work decades together through thick and thin.

You will rightly imagine there were both tears and smiles.

Mere words don’t adequately convey how important these guys have been to the history, innovation and success of Arctic Cat snowmobiles.

Donn Eide, Kim Chervestad and Greg Spaulding have comprised the braintrust of Arctic Cat’s Engine department for decades. These are the guys who spearheaded pretty much every engine that’s powered an Arctic Cat snowmobile since the mid-1970s, and they led the process for Arctic Cat to begin producing its own 2-stroke snowmobile engines beginning in 2014.

Darrel Janisch has been a supreme talent in snowmobile electrical systems for nearly as many years.

Russ Ebert has been an innovator and engineer of untold number of components, as well as an integral leader of the Team Arctic race program.

And Ron Bergman has channeled his remarkable creative genius to develop dozens of cool ideas, components and snowmobiles. Think Firecat.

Together these men enjoy the honor of having multiple patents listed to their names. More importantly, they have the utmost respect of their peers. All of it earned through relentless work and fierce passion for excellence.

From talking with some of these guys over the past couple years, I knew that retirement was on their horizon. It’s natural to think of the next chapter of life when people hit their early and mid-60s.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t shocked to hear they’re all retiring now. Part of the reason is that they’ve been so integral to the Arctic Cat snowmobile story, that I simply can’t imagine the company without them. We all should take some comfort knowing that they leave Arctic Cat to the next generation of creative, smart and dedicated engineers…people who are remarkably similar to these six retirees.

I can even imagine that some of these guys might continue to play some role in future products. Plus their influence is literally built into the DNA of Arctic Cat.

I have no doubt about the future of Arctic Cat snowmobile innovation. This is a company comprised of smart and creative talents who want nothing more than to build the ultimate machines.

But I do have sadness that these guys won’t walk into Arctic Cat each morning. I felt the same way when so many others of that famed “first generation” of Arctic Cat employees transitioned to their retirement years.

The last word hasn’t been said about these guys. There will be interviews here on ArcticInsider once a month or two passes and dust settles.

Until then, I simply want to thank these guys and their families.

Really…thank you.



Legendary Arctic Cat snowmobile engineers retire. Photo by

Legendary Arctic Cat snowmobile engineers retire. Photo by

Troy Halvorson tells some personal stories about working with the six men.



Legendary Arctic Cat snowmobile engineers retire. Photo by

Roger Skime had the last word, and he spoke of the passion and of Arctic Cat being a life rather than a job.



Legendary Arctic Cat snowmobile engineers retire. Photo by

Jeff Olson (left) shakes Kim Chervestad’s hand while Mike Kloety teases both.


Legendary Arctic Cat snowmobile engineers retire. Photo by

Legendary Arctic Cat snowmobile engineers retire. Photo by

Lots of hugs for these guys.


Legendary Arctic Cat snowmobile engineers retire. Photo by

Each retiree was given a poster signed by friends.


Legendary Arctic Cat snowmobile engineers retire. Photo by

Legendary Arctic Cat snowmobile engineers retire. Photo by

Legendary Arctic Cat snowmobile engineers retire. Photo by

Legendary Arctic Cat snowmobile engineers retire. Photo by

Legendary Arctic Cat snowmobile engineers retire. Photo by

Legendary Arctic Cat snowmobile engineers retire. Photo by

Legendary Arctic Cat snowmobile engineers retire. Photo by

A round of applause for these awesome guys!



  1. WOW …On the bright side, A super great group of my friends that deserve a standing ovation for there commitment and dedication to this company. I was fortunate enough to work with all of them except Rod Bergman. They’ve weathered thru Arctic Enterprises, Bankruptcy, Arctco, Arctic Cat, A 50th anniversary,and now Textron. One might say they’ve seen it all. I think our next Sno Pro reunion will be in Thief River so that we can all be together once again. I,m sure you all have you pet projects that now will get your full attention and enjoyment, that’s what retirement is right? On the dark side, there is more to this story than we know, maybe that part is not my business but I feel this is a HUGE loss to Arctic Cat and decisions like this, leave me very unsure of its future. but that’s just me. Congratulations you guys ! Jim

  2. Some of the best guys ever. Old time AC, Thank you all. Typical AC, jeans and a chamois shirt. You are greatly appreciated. the ass kicking old AC laid down at the SOO today was sweet. Thanks again! You are appreciated! Enjoy the retirement….you have more than earned it. Thank You all!

  3. It is people like these 6 that I think of every single time I throw my leg over the seat of an Arctic Cat and take a ride. When the miles are clicking by, my mind always wanders to thinking about the advancements and innovation that the Arctic Cat brand has enjoyed in every decade since the beginning way back in 1962. The products that people like these guys have given us during their careers are burned into my very soul and I can imagine thousands of others might say the same. Best wishes in your futures, and a sincere Thank You for all of your contributions to a brand and a way of life that I am so grateful for.

  4. I’m guessing that those gentlemen represent at least 250 years of experience in the design and build of Arctic Cats….WOW

    I had the pleasure of meeting and bull****ting with Donn Eide up in the Cat Suite at the 94 Friday Night Thunder race, and between the 2001 Hometown Tour and the 50th bash I exchanged pleasantries with a few of the other guys and I felt lucky and honored in having those moments as it certainly gave me the feeling that I was as a snowmobiler an actual part of the Arctic Cat family.

    Congratulation gentlemen on a dedicated career that was appreciated by many of us consumers out there blazing the snow on your wonderful designs and builds.

  5. I must say that Tom Rowland has said exactly the same thoughts that I have every time I ride or every time the conversation turns to snowmobiles. I have the same wanderings in my head as I ride, lisening to the sounds of the great two strokes that guys like Greg, Donn, and Kim have brought us through the years. It’s amazing the talent these men have and their patents are living proof of their talents. I know, having recently retired myself, that there are mixed emotions when this day arrives. The thought of finally having each day to yourself to do what you have promised yourself and your family to do. The difficult part is knowing that what you have been doing for thirty years with your fellow workers is what your real love and passion is.
    I have been assured that the next generation of Arctic Cat engineers is fully capable and have the same passion as these honored retirees. I do believe this is true. However, as young engineers, we nearly all had someone to go to for advice and direction. I hope all the young Arctic engineers have an open channel to the incredible talent and experience this group of men represent.
    I hope that Textrons future intentions are honerable and long lasting regarding their plans for Arctic Cat snowmobile manufacturing. I too share the same concerns as Jim. For now, good luck to all of you and your families in the future.

  6. How do you say thank you for a lifetime of passion? My first sled was a ’69 Panther. (bought Nov. ’72) I currently have ten cats. (Vintage and newer, ’15 XF6000 snopro newest) I was crushed in ’81 when cat folded, ecstatic in ’83 when cat came back. I also do not believe 6 senior engineers just happen to all decide to call it a career at the same time. Something is going on. John, you have always been our source for all things cat, what can you tell us? To you six gentlemen, Thank you and god speed.

  7. So thankful for experienced, pasionate and loyal industry icons like these men.

    This is not a coincidence. This IS the Textron playbook – do some research.

    Won’t elaborate here out of respect for these men and a life long love of our brand.

    John will not have an easy job moderating here and finding balanced objectivity with the many, similar, dumbfounding changes to come.

    Right wrong or indifferent Arctic Cat, throughout its history controlled its own destiny.

    That control was always influenced by an understanding, a respect and a love of the sport.

    Those times are over.

  8. Thank you all for making the sleds of my dreams. I still remember when the Firecats came out and in the company brochure, Cat had a picture with some of the Engineers standing behind a F7. I always thought that was the coolest thing that Cat’s engineers had superstar-status. Ever since, you guys have been my role-models and I feel extremely fortunate to have grown up in the time and place I did, with your sleds to ride on.
    I was finally able to meet Donn and Greg in person at Hay-Days this year. They didn’t know it, but that will be a memory I will not soon forget, as I was able to put a handshake with some of my boyhood heroes. Thank you all so much, and thank you Greg and Donn for taking the time to visit with me last fall,
    Eli, The guy in the South Dakota State Jackrabbit T-shirt

  9. Much respect to these men who made Arctic Cat great. I hope they have a great rest of their lives during their retirement.

    But I hate it when I new company comes in and forces the older guys to retire. They must of threaten to fire the younger guys if they didn’t retire, or something else along those lines.

  10. Congratulations on retiring guys sad to see old school talent retire hopefully this isn’t a sign of things to come. I agree with jim kinda worried about the future here with cat. I hope textron stays committed to bringing cat the greatest technology in the sport. Last few cats I’ve had have not been the greatest quality. It would be nice to see better quality and see cat take number 1 in the sport.

  11. I worked for Arctic Cat for nine years and know how these gentleman feel right now. I started checking warranty at Dealers, moved to Moorhead MN and worked at Arctco/Fargo ND as a DSM and then it quit snowing. Fargo closed and so I moved to TRF and was the General Service Manger. Then Arctic built the Central Dist. Center in Plymouth MN so I was transferred to the CDC and then 1981 came along. Those were tough years not knowing if you would have a job or not. I got lucky and landed a job with BMW of North America and worked there for eleven years and finely retired. So life with Arctic was always kinda up in the air but I would not change anything for the world, because I loved working at Arctic. My hat is off to these Gentlemen for their staying power and passion for this sport.

  12. I had the privilege of working for Darrel the last 16 years and I can’t find the words that can describe what it was like to work with a man with as much knowledge about the electrical systems of power-sports vehicles. He has taught me plenty over the years! All these guys will be missed!

  13. Russ Ebert taught me how to rebuild engines, transmissions and lots of other stuff.. at Brainerd tech back in 91-93.. I’m still in the field!!

    I’ve rode/owned many of the sleds these guys have been involved in. I’d rather see a pic of lifelong arctic cat bean counters leaving all at once then the irreplaceable talent shown here.

    I’m just dang happy there ain’t no Hibbert’s in the pic.

    I bet these guys aren’t going home to play cards, they will go on to do many more great things before time is officially up!!

  14. I never wi a race if not for Greg Spaulding. And he’s one hell of a lounge singer too #catspride

    Ray Stevens
    WLS radio

  15. There are so many questions I have for these men about how and why the Procross chassis and bodywork was initially designed the way they were.

    I sincerely hope that the bean counters move on with them, because they together are responsible for nearly ruining my passion for the sport with the disaster that has been my 2013 1100Turbo.

  16. Our family raced a few years back. We were dedicated sport type racers.
    Anyway Russ Ebert helped make our son — an already a good person — an even better person.
    I also as a Dad a better person from being around several Arctic Cat people.
    Memories are forever…

  17. Derek Rhem as a spring order 2012 turbo owner coming off of a brand new 6500 mile 03 f7 and brand new 8500 mile f1000 I liked going to country cat and seeing the pre production turbo procross on display and laying it out for one only to experience 3 years of pain, but now I’m at 7250 miles and literally one payment left( I did 0,0,0 and then 72 month ) I got one more payment and consider the damn thing fixed. But what a deal. Didn’t see it coming. Painful. I have to assume it was the bean counters/ rush to market. Love Suzuki power.

    Powerful pill to swallow, with all the lost riding,trips back to dealer and then dealer got ugly, didn’t see that coming. Don’t worry though, that little pole barn out in the middle of that corn field won’t have to worry about me coming back. Cc.Jerks

  18. Good luck to all you guys I’ am Riding Side by Sides In the Mohave desert with the Bullhead City Dirt Riders Take Care Robert Johnson

  19. Wow… I remember working with each of these gentleman, I have the utmost respect for all of them. I cant imagine loosing this much talent all at once. They were the “go to” guys for me for the better part of the decade I worked for Arctic Cat. Hats off to all of them, I will always remember my time working with them fondly. The brand would not be what it is to so many Arctic Cat customers without them. Their impact on the snowmobile world is enormous. Good luck to them all in whatever life after Arctic Cat brings them. Big smile !

  20. Worked with these guys for 2 years ,lot of respect they new there **** and were great resource as well as practical use . wish them well hope the torch was passed on to the new crew.Guys enjoy your retirement.


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