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Quotes, Notes From Textron Event Talking About Arctic Cat

By John PrusakEditor/PublisherApril 20, 2017
Erik Nelson Arctic Cat

Erik Nelson, the VP/GM of snowmobiles for Textron.

The story about the Textron/Arctic Cat meeting in Texas has generated a lot of interest, particularly among longtime snowmobilers who are interested in what is happening with Arctic Cat. With that in mind, here are some direct quotes from speakers at the event.

The event itself was aimed at Arctic Cat and Textron dealers and includes a lot of hyperbole to get those dealers excited about the new situation. The full video from the event has been posted at ArcticInsider.com, and it includes dealer-focused information on sales programs and such. It also includes a long segment where Arctic Cat’s VP/GM of snowmobiles Erik Nelson introduces unknowing Textron dealers to the 2018 Arctic Cat snowmobile lineup. (It is interesting to note that, with many on the Internet speculating this new deal could possibly affect the Arctic Cat/Yamaha arrangement on snow, Nelson spent a lot of time highlighting Yamaha-powered Arctic Cat snowmobiles.) In between all of that, though, were a lot of good quotes that state the mindset of company officials in the wake of Textron’s purchase of Arctic Cat. Many of those quotes are listed below.

First to speak was Kevin Holleran, the president and CEO of Textron Specialized Vehicles.

“I want to start by saying how thrilled we are to have Arctic Cat as part of the family,” Holleran said. “I personally have been an admirer of the company for some time. I don’t want to call myself a stalker, but we’ve been looking at and developing an interest in Arctic Cat for some time – I’d say several years. We’ve been looking at the product launches, looking at some of their distribution channel strategies, listening into some of their earnings calls to really understand the company and perhaps – hopefully – how it was going to come together to form this great new combined business.

“When you look at Arctic Cat and that pioneer spirit, that fiercely independent culture, that passion, that expertise, that customer loyalty, that customer advocacy, I think that’s all going to add greatly to Textron as we combine our businesses going forward,” Holleran said.

“In considering this acquisition, we looked at what kind of synergies existed between the two businesses and expect that the combined company will be greater than the sum of its parts, and I think there’s a lot to be excited about when you look at our two businesses coming together,” Holleran said, speaking first about dealer networks and then turning to product lines.

“I think the product lines marry very well together to form a very complete and competitive line. We’ve got on the Arctic Cat side legendary sleds and high performance side-by-sides and ATVs. On the Textron side we add some complimentary side-by-sides, both gas and electric, and then we bring the personal transport vehicles under the EZ-Go brand,” Holleran said. “Textron also brings some resources and some expertise to build on these last six decades, and we’re very anxious to corral that and get our businesses back on a market leading trajectory.”

Holleran spoke about how Textron is now a powerful company with $18 billion in sales, world class engineering talent that includes more than 500 engineers located in sites from Minnesota, Georgia, Indiana and Wisconsin as well as China, Germany, Sweden, India, the U.K. Plus the company now has more than 4,400 employees, with 3,700 of them in North America, he said.

“The addition of Arctic Cat is a critically important step in our future growth. I want to be very clear: This is a strategic investment for Textron,” Holleran said. “My boss, Textron’s CEO, and the board of directors didn’t spend this money because we had spare cash lying around. Our management and our shareholders have expectations for growth and profitability in this space and this acquisition was built on that case and we collectively, I hope, demand that of ourselves going forward.”

Holleran spoke og getting former Cat dealers to carry Textron brands like E-Z Go, and some Textron dealers to carry former Arctic Cat product. “It means keeping the iconic Arctic Cat brand in the snow – a space we wanted to be in, but by coming together allows us to do so with much greater speed and force than we could have ever done on our own, and it means on building on the strength of the Arctic Cat ATV and side-by-side product names like the Alterra, like Wildcat, like Prowler, while shifting them to live under the Textron Off Road lines.”

Next to speak was John Collins, the VP of Consumer Textron Specialized Vehicles. He explained how research showed how receptive customers were to the Prowler, Alterra and Wildcat brands when rolled under the Textron Off Road umbrella. “Our concerns are the geographic reach of the Arctic Cat brand,” as Arctic Cat has had trouble catching on in the South and West. “We wanted to remove that geographic reach issue and give a brand that consumers can resonate with, our products can resonate with…We live in an industry that lives by sub-brands. We all know them, right? Ranger, RZR, Maverick, Defender, the sub-brands are as relevant as the parent company. Subbrands that Arctic Cat brought to Textron off-road were extremely strong….Our intention is to take Textron Off Road and invest in these sub-brands of Alterra, Prowler, Wildcat, and then bring you something that you don’t have today” meaning the Stampede gas and electric vehicles that were previously Bad Boy Off-Road vehicles. “

Finally, Erik Nelson, the VP and general manager of Snow and International for Textron, gave a lengthy and impassioned speech, first on how Arctic Cat snowmobiles benefit from being a part of Textron and then explaining the Arctic Cat snow lineup. Here are some highlights:

“I never thought I would be here in Fort Worth, Texas, today in an airplane hanger talking about snowmobiles next to Bell helicopters and Scorpion attack jets. Truly amazing indeed,” Nelson said. “Speaking on behalf of our snowmobile business from Thief River Falls, Minnesota, we at Arctic Cat could not be more proud and honored to be part of the Textron family. What Kevin and John showed you was commitment and resolve. Commitment to where this company is going in the powersports industry and total resolve of a world class organization that delivers nothing short of amazing results in all industry they compete in. It’s astonishing.

“This is exactly the partnership that both Arctic Cat and our dealer partners have needed for a long time,” Nelson said. “What this does it allows us the ability to take our product road to entirely new levels that we’ve never enjoyed before. That’s exciting to me, exciting to our company, exciting to our dealers.”

Nelson then said he has now had a chance to study Textron and has found interesting parallels between the two company’s histories, recounting how Arctic Cat was started in 1962 by Edgar Hetteen.

“What began in the Hetteen garage with a 12 mph snowmobile has advanced to now having what you see behind me: A turbocharged 200 horsepower machine delivering over 120 mph of performance on the snow,” Nelson said, standing before a picture of the 2018 Arctic Cat Thundercat. “The sled behind me is a rocketship… it’s exceeded all of our expectations from an engineering and design standpoint, and even more, it’s exceeded all of our expectations in the market in our trail performance category.

“Six weeks ago we debuted our model year 2018 product line up in Minneapolis , and I’ll share with you that it was the most robust and comprehensive launch that we’ve ever had as a company. New models, new chassis, new products, that are going to create new space for our dealers and our customers,” Nelson said. He also spent much time on the new Arctic Cat 200 youth-oriented snowmobile and the new 800-class two-stroke engine in many different models.

“We couldn’t be more excited about what our prospects are going forward. With a commitment and financial backing now that Textron affords to us, our product road is not only rock solid, it’s going to be coming to market with a much, much faster velocity. As a Textron company, we’ll now be able to increase our performance in the market with these new products that are going to truly knock the socks off our industries and our customers, I can assure you that…Now we can leverage human talent, technology, innovation, financial fortitude that no other OEM in this industry has. It’s truly an exciting time for Arctic Cat, even more for our dealer partners,” Nelson said.

“It’s an exciting time in the industry and for those that have the exciting product and the forward-thinking business strategy, the sky is the limit. Textron made a large investment in the acquisition of Arctic Cat and they did this for a single purpose, and that’s to win big in this industry. We couldn’t be more proud to be on his team and the Textron team that’s pointed towards the finish line. We’ve got the throttle down and I guarantee you we’re going to win that, so be there with us.”

Then Collins came back with the final pitch.

“What you should leave here understanding is that we are committed to being a powersports powerhouse. Second to none – we don’t play for second place,” Collins said.

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