Every few weeks throughout the winter, a handful of Arctic Cat engineers spend the day riding and evaluating snowmobiles. Sometimes they’re production machines, sometimes they’re prototypes, sometimes they’re competitors’ sleds and sometimes they’re mix of all three. These rides (and the discussions that ensue throughout the ride) help inform where the products “are” and where they need to “go.”
On this particular day (Thurs., Feb. 4), the group consisted of VP Roger Skime, Doug Wolter (Director of engineering), Troy Halvorson (High Performance Group Leader), Greg Spaulding (Engine Group Leader, 2-Stroke), Joey Hallstrom (Product Manager) and myself. The collective knowledge represented by this group of engineers is mind-boggling, and it’s both an honor and education to ride with them.
Joey Hallstrom was testing some electric-heated goggles which, with freezing rain for the first couple hours of the ride, proved an excellent choice. Hallstrom led the ride at a pace that he used to finish an impressive fifth overall in the I-500 Expert 85 class a couple weeks back. In other words, WFO.
Troy Halvorson (left) and Roger Skime tag-team a track adjustment somewhere northwest of Thief River Falls. Makes me wonder how many times Roger has adjusted a track in his nearly-five-decade career?
Greg Spaulding, shown here with 2010 F model that had a 2011 ECU program for its EFI system. Throughout the year, Cat engine/EFI specialists work to improve the program for each model by focusing on emissions, performance, fuel consumption and more. This particular model showed crisper low- and mid-range performance.
Our route brought us through New Folden at the exact time school let out for lunch, so we stopped momentarily to watch a few dozen kids cross in front of us. I’d bet that one-quarter of these kids were wearing Arctic Cat colors, and most of them waved or extended their hands for a high-five. Very cool!
These guys are very deliberate about knowing and understanding ALL snowmobiles, including the fair and thoughtful analysis of competitors’ sleds like this 800 E-Tech from Ski-Doo.
A quick fuel and lunch break in Grygla offered another chance to compare observations and riding impressions of the sleds. Makes me wonder how many times these guys have stopped in Grygla during a test ride, and how many ideas have been hatched while pouring fuel or eating a hamburger.
Back at the plant in TRF.
A couple clicks over 130 miles, a half-day that was well-spent and enlightening for all participants.
Any day he can ride a snowmobile is a good day for Roger Skime, even if he has to wear this strange shirt.
Back in the engineering shop, Troy Halvorson (left) and Doug Wolter talk about what they observed during the day’s ride. The power of face-to-face conversation is key to the success of Arctic Cat’s products, as communication flows freely (and frequently) among the many groups within the company.