Maybe the most asked question we field here at Trax Media World HQ is: “What is Arctic Cat up to?” It’s no secret there have been a myriad of changes at the Thief River Falls based OEM since Arctic Cat was sold to the giant Textron Corporation more than three years ago. So, sit back and get the straight goods from Heidi McNary, the new Senior VP and General Manager, Powersports.
In our discussion with Heidi McNary at Hay Days we asked her to drill down on a number of issues she is focused on. First, Arctic Cat is maximizing production of existing products, then ensuring the customer is first – delivering Arctic Cat products reflecting what they want. Finally, Arctic Cat wants to develop their dealer network – both snow and dirt – to ensure they are vibrant and profitable.
McNary reported with enthusiasm Arctic Cat’s success with their early order sled program last spring. Interestingly, youth and mid-size models showed strong growth – likely an indicator of new and younger enthusiasts entering and returning to the market.
To grow “Snowmageddon” orders in MY23, McNary has given the command to ensure the early order process is easier to understand and reflects accurately what early order buyers want. Just to make this perfectly clear – Arctic Cat will fulfill every MY22 early order before year end. The model mixes on this season’s early orders has been a challenge, however Arctic Cat is on a path to fill each and every order. An issue plaguing every manufacturer is supply chain shortages. It’s why huge OEMs like GM and Ford cannot meet customer and dealer orders. Arctic Cat is a smaller but intimately similar example of this Covid rooted problem.
McNary surprised us with her open admission she regularly walks the production line in TRF so she can listen to the challenges facing the production team. Arctic Cat is prioritizing all Snowmageddon orders for production by year end and will switch to in-season orders as quickly as possible.
McNary makes it clear both loyal Arctic Cat snowmobile customers and new snow customers are important to her team. The success of the BLAST is proof Arctic Cat is attracting new riders and the Riot is clearly meeting the needs of the faithful, hardcore Arctic Cat aficionados. Both these successful products give customers a reason to visit their local Arctic Cat store and website.
Heidi McNary has nothing but praise for the team she has in place right now. Troy Halvorson – Director of Product Strategy, Snow, has a lifetime of experience with Arctic Cat snowmobiles. Trenton Munsell, Director of Product Strategy, Dirt, brings years of powersports industry knowledge and strategic thinking, and Peter Keppler, Vice President of Sales, joins the team from Harley and Brunswick Boats, and comes from a long history of channel development.
This team positions Arctic Cat to meet the challenges of the near- and longer-term future. Heidi commented on the changes in the leadership team by saying this: “A fresh perspective is never a bad thing”. She is not oblivious to the legacy of Arctic Cat employees and customers.
Arctic Cat is on an aggressive hiring program in TRF. As one can imagine, Arctic Cat’s employees have a profound effect on the economy of TRF. The company is actively pursuing assemblers, welders, Engineers, ISC professionals and more. The intent is to expand the Arctic Cat workforce by up to 300 employees over the next five years. Finding enough qualified, skilled employees has always been the challenge in Northern Minnesota but Arctic Cat’s drive to add headcount shows their commitment to the brand and continued investment in the products they sell.
McNary is one busy individual with her hands-on Production, Engineering, Product Strategy, Marketing and Sales. Clearly this is one dedicated Arctic Cat executive reporting directly to the Textron mother ship in Augusta, Georgia.
McClure and Kincaid
It is true Dave McClure and Riley Kincaid the son of the legendary, late Rob Kincaid, have left the Motorfist camp and signed a support deal with Klim. Of course, Klim is owned by Polaris and our readers want to know where this leaves Dave and Riley.
Arctic Cat wants nothing but the best for their careers as athletes and support them in all of their endeavors. While they are sad to see them go on the apparel side of the sponsorship, Arctic Cat understands that Klim’s immense focus on avalanche awareness is near and dear to both of them. However, they made it very clear that Dave and Riley will remain integral parts of the Arctic Cat family and you’ll see them still riding Arctic Cat mountain sleds this season.
Arctic Cat mountain enthusiasts are clamoring for a turbo charged mountain model in response to turbocharged vert rides from both Ski-Doo and Polaris. McNary made it clear the company knows where they’re going. Specifically, flatland models are receiving heavy product investment and attention addressing both suspension and handling.
The company cannot move ahead with new stuff in every segment all at the same time. Rest assured, Arctic Cat knows what their customers – all of them – are looking for.