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Archive for March, 2011

March 15, 2011

Tragedy in Japan

We have had many calls and emails regarding the tragic events in Japan. For once I am at a loss for words as I don’t know where to begin. From what I can gather all of our Japanese staff are very fortunate not to have any immediate family or friends in the Sendai area but judging from their faces, they most assuredly know people who do. I had planned to travel to Japan this weekend to attend snowmobile meetings in the northern island of Hokaido but the call came through this morning that the meeting is cancelled (postponed). I don’t mind telling you I am somewhat relieved as the threat of a nuclear catastrophe has been weighing heavily on me since the news started trickling out about the potential melt-down of the reactors.

Yamaha operations are mainly focused in and around the Shizuoka prefecture with the main factories and headquarters in Iwata. I was told that the factories will be helping conserve power by participating in the rotating black-outs but are far enough away from the epicenter to have not incurred any  damage. For now all focus must be on the survivors and what can be done to help them through this.

I received a good response to my survey both here on Sled Talk and over on Totallyamaha. I haven’t had enough time to analyze all the data and produce a summary but it is clear to me that the market is opening up in the smaller less expensive categories. Can we take this as a viable business opportunity? It’s a lot easier to market a hi-performance, hi tech, hi-buck machine in some respects because there is more money to be made  within the tight margins which may not be justifiable at a lower price point.  You know its the ROI part that takes all the fun out of spit-balling  a new model, whether it is entry level or flagship… Time will tell.

cheers cr


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Posted @ 3:44 pm in Yamaha People and Communication   

March 9, 2011

10th anniversary video blog

I was helping my daughter with a home work assignment the other night where she had to write a paragraph on spring and what it means if March comes in like a lion or a lamb. I advised her that it came in as a lamb based on the 1st however, depending where you live, there now appears to be a lion right on its butt! Another 40cm of snow in the east and more on its way. Anybody want to buy a Waverunner?

No sooner did I write the above, I received a media release from the OFSC addressing spring conditions here is the header:


Don’t Make Your Last Ride of the Season the Last Ride of Your Life (ORILLIA, ON) – The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) are concerned about an increase in fatal snowmobile incidents this March.  While the number of deaths investigated by the OPP has seen an overall decline to date this season, five tragedies in the past two weeks indicate that sledders are not adjusting their riding habits to the late season conditions.

I have been elected to travel to Japan in a few days to attend some meetings at our test center in Shibetsu. I will spend some time with our snowmobile development team and think it may present a good opportunity to address what I consider to be a hole in our line up. As I had mentioned in an earlier post, I created a short survey to get your opinion  on entry level and mid-performance snowmobiles. I would really appreciate it if you would take a few minutes to complete the survey, I’ll post a link here and let you know the results and how it is received. Click here to take survey

We did our first ever on-line dealer meeting / new product launch last week to release the 2012 snowmobiles. To date it appears to have been a success. The additional snow falling is allowing our regional reps to now get out and ride with our dealers, giving many a chance to feel the EPS Vector and Venture.

I have had a few contacts today regarding Matt’s 24 hour record (the most miles traveled by a sled in 24 hours) which has unofficially fallen as of last night. The challenge came from Northland Recreation’s Nick Musters riding a Skidoo. I understand they used the same basic course on Lake of Bays and hats of to their team, they beat Matt’s record by just over a hundred miles. From what I have been told there were a couple of key differences the most significant being they needed two sleds to Doo it after mechanicals required the use of a back-up machine. I also heard they had a groomer maintaining the course… Hey Matt you up for another little trail ride next season? Maybe we should use the same sled!  😉

I was asked to do a small video blog on the 10th anniversary of our 4-stroke snowmobile development. Interestingly enough it is this, the 10th model year, where EPA has forced the complete elimination of our old 2-strokes in North America (bye-bye Bravo and VK540).  Here’s the clip:




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Posted @ 3:15 pm in Opinions and Insights   

March 2, 2011

President Yanagi Ride In Canada

I am back in the office today following the ride with our presidents from Japan and the USA. When I posted last week the weather forecast called for rain and plus 9 degrees on Monday. We rolled into Huntsville Saturday morning, clear skies minus ten and no fresh snow. The lakes were literally skating rinks. I could almost smell the hy-fax just looking at the sleds still sitting, patiently on the trailer. The faces on some of the guys I saw in the snowmobile parking lot spoke volumes. This didn’t look good, but I was hoping the bush trails would still be white and with the odd venture off-trail, we might be able to keep the tracks spinning freely and the temp lights from coming on.

Aaron and I set off north with the temperature climbing under the blue skies. It wasn’t long before the trail softened up and things improved dramatically. We ended up almost in Kearney before we looped back down towards Dwight and finished up our morning at a couple hundred clicks. The only bad parts were the plowed roads which we planned to avoid the next day. Back at the resort, we unloaded, finished prep’ing the sleds and I hopped on my studded mountain bike  for a few laps around Fairy Lake (don’t say it!) as the sun set.

Sunday morning we awoke to  5cm of fresh snow and milder temps. We saddled up and hit the trails to put a time on our loop and check out the lakes which now sported a nice layer of lube but not before we got in a good snowshoe stomp around the forest, scaring up a flock of wild turkeys in the process (and no, they weren’t riding yellow sleds this time). We were back at the resort in time to hook up with ‘Ace’ Oyama to go over the final details of the ride. Our guests arrived on time followed by grey skies and more snow…

Monday morning welcomed us with another 5sm of fresh snow and minus 1 degrees, a far cry from the previouslyforecasted rain-out and 9. We lined up the sleds, briefed everyone on the route and local hand signals then headed north. The pace was a little slow getting going but picked up once we got on the main trail. We had a new 2012 Vector and Venture, both sporting EPS along with 3 Apex’s and a Phazer GT. From what I could tell President Yanagi quite enjoyed the Apex but he also went back for seconds on the Phazer. Pete Smallman-Tew was riding sweep on’the sofa’ and I got a strong hunch after gassing up the sleds, that he was having a little fun off the back. Either that or his fuel tank had a hole in it 😉

We made it to the Bush Company for lunch right on time and after a nice big meal, we decided to run some lakes back. The traction was surprisingly good and all three presidents got to see some impressive numbers on their speedometers. In hindsight I am glad I warned them about the ‘dock bubblers’ on the big lakes as we veered off the staked trails to do a little sight seeing of some of the so called ‘cottages’ on Peninsula Lake. Once back at the Grandview, Aaron had a nice campfire going and we went from saddles to Muskoka chairs (Adirondak for my American friends). Keys pulled and bevy in mitt, I proceeded to toast a round of marshmallows (note: this is not common treat in Japan), passing the first to president Yanagi. Still wearing his nice new Klim gloves  he pulled at the smoldering marshmallow leaving behind the center still stuck to the stick. Before I could react he reached over with the other hand and grabbed the gooey mess pulling it free and in the process coating his nice gloves in molten sugar. What a mess. I am pleased to report my security pass was still functional upon arrival at the office this morning…  cheers cr

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Posted @ 5:04 pm in Yamaha People and Communication