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When it comes to articles on Arctic Insider, my favorites have always been the road trips to mother ship in Thief River Falls. Whether it was Sandberg or Wainer penning the trip, they always offered a small glimpse behind the curtain and gave the brand we all know and love a personality…something the other brands frankly won’t or can do. It’s that bond with the brand, the company, and most importantly, the people that truly makes Arctic Cat different. 

For me personally, it also always felt a bit like going home. I grew up in far northern Minnesota, so the vibe and feeling associated with the small town of Thief River Falls and the communities and farm fields that surround it, remind me of my youth.

My first “official” trip to Thief River as the caretaker of this site ironically came at the same time the internet was blowing up with rumors regarding the future of the feline. As a publicly traded company, I know asking questions about rumors is often a moot point. They’re often just that, rumors, and what’s more, you put people on the spot regarding a topic they simply can’t answer. What I can report is it was business as usual inside the walls of the Cat factory…same can be said deep within the factory where Arctic Cat engineering is located. Sleds and dirt products were being built, parts and materials were being delivered, and the future was still in good hands. 

I know many of you will have plenty of questions that I won’t be able to answer here, but I’m close to having the tools in place to start my podcast project, and there I’ll be able to give you more of my own thoughts based on 30-years in the industry as it relates to Arctic Cat, Textron, and the dirt and snow industry as whole. I’ll also be posting stories on updates to the 2025 sleds, inside information on changes to the new Adapt clutch, and an overview of the AC5S shock and how it compares to ATAC and IFP offerings.Until then, enjoy the photos and remember…the days are now officially starting to get shorter. – Pat

My first stop at the factory was to check in with Troy Halvorson, Director of Product Strategy for snowmobiles. As many of you know, Troy has been a part of the Arctic Cat family for a long time, dating back to 1997, and has held multiple positions and worked with a who’s who list of good folks associated with the black and green. Troy had set aside a good part of his day for my visit and we spent the morning chatting about where things were at with the MY25 line and some of the key changes that were made for the model year. More on that to come.
One of the things I wanted to learn more about while in TRF was to gain insight on the new AC5S shock that will be found on key performance models in 2025. Engineering Manager Ben Langaas gave me a deep dive on the new shock and proved to be a great hand model as well – proving he is more than another pretty face. When it comes to suspension technology and knowledge, Ben knows his way around a shock body and relies on his racing experience to tap into the performance mindset of riders. Ben also sent me some curves to help illustrate the differences in valving between the AC5S and other shocks in the MY25 Cat stable. That story will follow soon.
Never one to turn down a free lunch, we broke off discussions long enough to venture across the street to the Black Cat. Joining me for lunch was Lindsay West (marketing) Troy, Ben, Lynn Berberich, and Kevin Thompson. We were all members of the clean plate club … (urp).
With rumors swirling on the internet…many of you will be happy to know the plant was pumping at a business as usual pace. I followed Ben and Troy back to engineering to discuss rolling changes for next year and get a glimpse of other “projects”. Throughout all of my career changes and having worked for Harley-Davidson and another brand up the road in Roseau, spending time with the people who bring new ideas to life is always a treat.
While I was a bit disappointed I didn’t have a chance to snap a few photos of new Arctic Cat sleds on the line, it was bittersweet to see the last of the Yamaha snowmobiles being completed. Regardless of your brand affinity, seeing a long time brand leave the business is hard to take, so it was cool to witness a small piece of history as it unfolded.
I didn’t pay much attention to the Yamaha sleds while I was in Montana this past spring for Snow Shoot, so it wasn’t until I wandered over to take a closer look at a Sidewinder on the line did I notice the final edition badging each 2025 Yamaha snowmobile will wear this season. Pretty cool.
Getting it done on the line as another snowmobile is born. No matter how many times I see it, I love watching a sled being manufactured from start to finish in such a short span of time and space. 
Dirt product was also moving down another line while I was there with Tracker Off-Road 800s being prepared for shipment.
Before I left town, I was able to pick up a new Alterra 600 Black Hills Edition for the season. This buggy will be getting dirty next weekend when I host the first ever ArcticInsider Ride & Rally near Isle, Minnesota on Saturday, June 29. There’s no cost to join us, any brand is welcome, and I’ve got a box of swag to give out via early registration and trivia after the ride at Mugg’s in Wahkon, Minnesota. To learn more and to sign up check out the Ride & Rally Story.


  1. Any word on the 7000 2.0?

    Maybe John Deere will finally start installing the proper height bar risers and snow flaps now that they’re done with Yamaha. Hopefully JD will bring back the freestyle team. 👍

  2. Thanks for the update!!
    We know the higher ups from Deere took a tour of the plant, its hard to imagine anyone could do a worse job with the brand than textron has…..
    Its good that the factory is busy, but considering how often we hear about textron cutting back on staffing are they building enough units to keep going?

    Any word on new/upgraded dirt products??? The line up is pretty sparse and long in the tooth.

    • Well, Textron managed to pawn off the smoldering carcass of Homelite onto Deere, so perhaps history will repeat itself.

  3. Great story! Thanks Pat. So, I ordered a new M858. Any chance the build schedule is available? Be fun to tour the plant knowing my next rig could be in the mix!


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