The pipeline from Arctic Cat/Textron to amphibious and all-terrain vehicle maker Argo took another big step this week when former Team Arctic race director and snowmobile product manager Joel “Joey” Hallstrom joined the Thief River Falls, Minnesota, office of Argo, a division of the Ontario Drive & Gear. He was named this week as the vehicle product manager for the company (see press release far below).
Unlike other recent high-profile circumstances, like when former Cat VP Craig Kennedy or Director of Product Strategy Brian Dick joined Argo, Hallstrom’s path wasn’t direct – he spent the last couple of years at the ALCOM trailer manufacturer. But eventually, Hallstrom also was lured by Argo – which not so coincidently has another former Cat VP, Brad Darling, as its President and CEO.
Overall, Argo has grown its Thief River Falls office to about 25 people, many of whom are former Arctic Cat employees. With Argo expanding beyond its amphibious vehicle roots to ATVs and UTVs right now and rumors of strong expansion plans for the future, it makes us wonder: Why is the company amassing so much veteran talent – including a lot closely tied to snowmobiles?
We caught up with Hallstrom this week on his second day on the job at Argo.
A Growing Team
So how did this latest addition at Argo come together?
“Brad Darling got together with me here about a month ago and asked me to join with the team,” Hallstrom said. “I know so many people here, it’s kind of like getting together with the old band again, and I get to handle the product manager role, too.”
Aside from Darling, Hallstrom clicked through many names of former- and now current-again coworkers, including Craig Kennedy, Brian Dick, Tim Benedict, Gary Nelson and Mark Esala, not to mention Dean Dutcher – a man who previously led many of Arctic Cat’s advertising efforts at the Periscope ad agency, but who now is Argo’s director of marketing. Beyond them, Hallstrom said, many other Cat veteran who consumers probably wouldn’t know by name – folks in engineering as well as inventory, sales or warranty management, for example – also brought their expertise to Argo.
“Everybody here is a seasoned veteran, they know what to do and how to do it,” Hallstrom said. “It’s like Brad has put together a football team with a bunch of Pro Bowl players.”
Hallstrom spoke highly of his time at the ALCOM trailer consortium but said, “I’m a product guy, I like vehicles, so this is going to be fun – much more rewarding and challenging, and I’ll be able to put my [product management] expertise to work.”
This being his first week with the Argo team, Hallstrom said he’s been doing deep-dives with engineers and designers. Monday was focused on the Frontier, Aurora and other XTV 6- and 8-wheeler vehicles; Tuesday was all about the brand’s new ATV and side-by-sides; and on Wednesday he was scheduled to take one of the massive Sherpa vehicles out of a spin with Brian Dick.
Given his long background at Arctic Cat and his understanding of the need not to talk about products that are currently in development, Hallstrom wasn’t about to slip up when we asked him questions about Argo potentially having unique ATVs/UTVs in the future, much less if they’ll ever jump into snowmobiling given their amassing of engineering talent. The most he’d say was this:
“There’s a lot happening here,” Hallstrom said. “Brad did not bring all of these excellent engineers on board to sit around on their hands – that was the exciting part of when Brad brought me in. There’s a lot of out-of-the-box thinking here. They are definitely looking at expanding their horizons.”
Here’s the press release from Argo:
ARGO brings aboard Joel Hallstrom as Product Manager of their vehicle division
(NEW HAMBURG, May 24, 2022) — ARGO, manufacturer of ATVs, SxSs, UTVs and the worldwide leader for amphibious Xtreme Terrain Vehicles (XTVs) is pleased to announce the addition of Joel “Joey” Hallstrom as product manager for their vehicle division. Officing out of Thief River Falls, MN, Joey will be working with a multitude of groups from both the Canadian and US operations on product development, channel strategies and promotions.
Anyone that has been around the powersports industry has encountered Joey and experienced his passion for powersports firsthand. Finding his place early in life, Joey’s impressive tenure at Arctic Cat had him wearing many hats, from race manager, to product manager, business development manager and ending as an industry relations manager.
When asked what attracted him to ARGO, Joey responded by saying, “I immediately saw a spark and positive energy in everyone. Seeing how far ARGO has come in the last few years and where they want to go, I couldn’t be more excited to be part of that. Plus, there is a whole group of hard-working people up in Ontario that I’m looking forward to collaborating with.”
ARGO CEO Brad Darling stated “Joey’s experience in powersports, product management, and international affairs, make him the perfect fit for this position. After getting acquainted with the upcoming MY23 product, Joey will transition to the “what’s next?” for ARGO.” The MY23 ARGO product launch is currently slated to be released in late summer of 2022.
About ARGO: ARGO is the world leader in amphibious Xtreme Terrain Vehicles (XTV) since 1967. ARGO markets its XTV, ATV, SXS and UTV products through a network of independent dealers located throughout the United States and Canada and through distributors representing dealers in Europe, South America, the Middle East, Asia and other international markets.