The second week of January, the powersports industry was abuzz after Polaris released news current CEO Tom Tiller would be stepping down later this year after heading up Polaris since 1998.
Tiller, a gregarious personality, brought a level of transparency and spontaneity to the somewhat conservative company during his ten year stay. He was responsible for Polaris’ growth from one billion in sales to nearly 2 billion in annual sales during his tenure. He also led the charge to build a new Polaris world headquarters outside Minneapolis in suburban Medina, moving the company from, as Tiller called it, the “bomb shelter” near Plymouth, Minnesota.
Tiller had a good sense of corporate timing, riding the crest of ATV industry sales growth during the 00’s. This growth took Polaris past 200,000 unit sales of ATVs. He also oversaw the acceptance and incredible growth of the Ranger UTVs.
Upon his arrival a decade ago Tiller pledged to expand Polaris PGA (Parts Garments and Accessories) sales, at that time among the lowest in the industry. Pure Polaris PGA are now incredibly popular and the brand is in an enviable position in the powersports business.
Victory motorcycles were among Tiller’s challenges the past decade. With the insertion of Mark Blackwell, formerly with Arctic Cat and Suzuki, he was able to cement the Victory brand in the hearts of an increasing number of American motorcycle enthusiasts.
The race is on for a successor. If we were betting folks we’d put money on Bennett Morgan, a likeable, personable, if not enthusiastic guy who bleeds Polaris. Morgan currently holds down the COO (Chief Operating Officer) job. Morgan was entrusted with the ATV division during years of explosive growth and is credited with much of its success.