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Polaris Industries 

“Market Cap $9.39 B As of May 2014

At a Glance

  • Industry: Recreational Products
  • Country: United States
  • CEO: Scott Wine
  • Website: www.polarisindustries.com
  • Employees: 600
  • Sales: $3.78 B
  • Headquarters: Medina, Minnesota

Forbes Lists

#1793 Global 2000

  • #1462 in Profit
  • #1144 in Market value
Profile

Polaris Industries, Inc. designs, engineers and manufactures off road vehicles and on road vehicles. Its products include side by side vehicles, terrain vehicles, victory motorcycles, Indian motorcycles, snowmobiles, GEM electric apparel accessories and polaris defense. The off road vehicles business provides stability for the rider than three wheel versions. Its on road vehicles business manufactures v-twin cruiser motorcycles under the victory brand name. It operates through four segments: cruisers, touring, sport bikes and standard motorcycles. The parts, garments and accessories business produces and supplies a variety of replacement parts and accessories. Its snowmobiles business produces snowmobiles, consisting of models ranging from youth models to utility and economy models to performance and competition models. Polaris Industries was founded by Allen Hetteen, Edgar E. Hetteen and David Johnson in 1954 and is headquartered in Medina, MN.”

“Polaris Industries History

Edgar Hetteen, who was described by the Snowmobile Hall of Fame in St. Germain, Wisconsin, as the father of the snowmobile, and Allan Hetteen, were partners in Hetteen Hoist and Derrick Shop in Roseau, Minnesota. Edgar had dropped out of school after the eighth grade in 1934. Their employees, David Johnson, partnered with Paul Knochenmus, and Orlen Johnson, who was the first person ever to ride a Polaris, decided to create a vehicle that could travel through snow. These vehicles’ primary use was to make hunting locations more accessible. The employees worked overtime to finish their concept model in 1954. After creating it using a grain silo conveyor belt as a track and they drive Chevy’s to solve their problems, they had the first snowmachine. After returning from a trip, Edgar was shown the machine, but was skeptical value and was disappointed that the group had spent company time and materials on the machine. The No 1 sled was soon sold to Roseau lumberyard owner “Silver Pete” H.F. Peterson for $465 in order to meet company payroll.

However, the employees continued to be focused on building snowmobiles and soon a second model was created, called the Polaris Sno Traveler. The first production model rolled off the assembly line in Minnesota in 1956. The original models weighed close to 1,000 lb (450 kg) and moved at a speed of about 20 mph (32 km/h). They came in a two-tone paint job (white below blue with a strip or chrome trim dividing them). In order to publicize the new snowmobile and show their reliability and usefulness, in 1960 Edgar led three snowmobilers on a 1200 mile trek across the Alaskan wilderness, starting from Bethel, Alaska. The trip took three weeks, and much of the time, Edgar struggled to maintain 10 mph over the snow. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner put them on its front page. However, his absence caused problems for him with the company’s board of directors. Soon after completing the trip, Edgar left the company in June and started a competing company called Polar Manufacturing in Thief River Falls, Minnesota. The company name later changed to Arctic Enterprises; in the mid-1980s it filed for bankruptcy amid fierce competition as snowmobiles became popular and other manufacturers jumped into the market. The company emerged from bankruptcy and continues on today as Arctic Cat.

Polaris began developing a smaller consumer-sized, front engine snowmobile to compete with the SkiDoo in the early 1960s. In 1964, Polaris released the Comet. However, the Comet soon ran into problems as it could not travel in all types of snow conditions. Polaris then recalled the sleds and quickly developed a new prototype to avoid bankruptcy. The new model, the 1965 Mustang, became a hit as a family snowmobile and boosted Polaris sales. Polaris continued to develop snowmobiles similar to this model throughout the 1960s-1970s, and went on to become one of the leaders in the snowmobile industry.

In the early 1980s, Polaris started creating an Indy style snowmobile with IFS and a wider stance. They continued with the Indy style sled in the 90’s with the Storm, Ultra, and Trail lines. In 1985, Polaris introduced the Trailboss, which is considered to be the first American-made all-terrain vehicles (ATV). Today, Polaris is one of the top selling brands of ATV’s. In the late 1990s, Polaris introduced the Polaris Rocky Mountain King (RMK)- a snowmobile specific for mountain terrain. In May 2009, Polaris announced the creation of an On-Road Vehicle Division. The new division will be devoted to the growth of Victory motorcycles and other on-road products and brands. In 2010, Polaris introduced the Polaris Rush snowmobile which had a new suspension system and better trail handling capabilities. This snowmobile is also available with retro graphics on the Rush and Iq models. In late 2005, Polaris Industries announced that it would purchase a portion of KTM Motorcycles. Through this venture KTM has developed their own ATV and Polaris has developed Sport ATVs which utilize the KTM 525 and 450 powerplants that have seen great success on the ATV racing circuit.

On May 21, 2010, Polaris announced that it was opening a new manufacturing plant in Mexico. The sister facility in Osceola, WI still remains in full operation. The opening of theMonterrey, Mexico facility is anticipated to save the company $30 million annually, with most of that savings coming from lower wages. In October 2011, Polaris announced an investment in Brammo, Inc., an electric vehicle company based in Ashland, Oregon, United States. Its first production electric motorcycle, the Brammo Enertia, is assembled in Ashland and sold at dealerships. Polaris continued its investment in Brammo when it participated in the $13 million opening tranche of Brammo’s Series C funding round in July 2012. Polaris had been showing interest in electric propulsion, producing an electric version of its Ranger Side-by-Side and more recently buying Global Electric Motorcars(GEM) from Chrysler. As one publication put it, “This latest move likely signals the addition of clean and quiet drivetrains to ATVs and motorcycles under the global giant’s brand umbrella – snowmobiles may have to wait on battery breakthroughs before they become commercially feasible.” In 2012, production restarted on the Indy-named sleds (stopped in 2004 with the Indy 500) with the release of the 2013 Indy 600 and Indy 600 SP. For 2014, Polaris will expand the Indy name and provide model variants for nearly all categories (the one exception being the “Mountain” class).”

*Information from Forbes.com and Wikipedia.org

**Video published on YouTube by “Polaris Industries Inc.