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Archive for September, 2015

September 23, 2015

First Day of Fall

I shouldn’t be surprised by the requests to spill the beans on the seventeens but really guys? It’s a bit premature! We have barely started shipping the 2016 models and already you want a hint of whats in store next March. Oh well, here you go.

SWTI have been working diligently along with Jon and Mr. T to finalize the model selection, specifications and appearance of the 17’s and things are looking really good.

We have a new ‘rule’ which has more  to do with administration than anything but it makes life a bit difficult for us. We have to hit a large minimum quantity before we can produce a model in a second color. This has always been a big deal with Japan built product and we were elated when we found out Arctic Cat was willing to build to almost a onesy twosy schedule. That is, until we started adding in the various specs for the different countries. I cant remember the exact math on this years TRF product but for the 20 something models we created, there were over 60 BOM’s required. These BOM’s (bill of material) are the vehicle recipes that determine the manufacturing parts requirements. Each model variant requires its own BOM and each country the units are sold in has its own requirements both in specific performance specs (think tracks, skis, shock /  clutch calibration etc.) and in compliance requirements, (warning labels, language, reflectors, mirrors etc.). These BOM’s contain a lot more than the list of finished parts. For example a warning label would require the paper stock, artwork and ink to all be listed separately so the total lines involved in 1 BOM are huge.

Long story short, we are on version 18 of the model mix trying to hit our minimums so we don’t have too many BOM’s with small volumes, yet still retain a good selection of flavors in the mix. A couple of the proposed models won’t even be confirmed until certain components are validated ‘on snow’ by our quality assurance team early in the new year. This comes as a result of some development issues and lack of snow in the mountains last spring. All in all we’ve been really busy chasing our tails!

Our engineers have been working hard to resolve a couple of lingering issues and pending some early on snow testing, we should be all good to go as the trails open up.

The industry, as a whole, appears quite healthy going into the season. The unusual anomaly of having no snow in the mountains for most of last winter will take its toll this fall as many riders didn’t get to use their sleds much last season and I expect, will hang onto them for another year. A second R1 SBanomaly may start having an impact on mountain sled sales as well with the rising popularity of snow bikes. With Polaris’ acquisition of Timbersled kits, Arctics announcement of their pending SVX 450, the new lightweight YETI kit going into production and Skidoo putting track kits on the Spyder for the geriatric set, its appears to be going main stream. Too bad Yamaha doesn’t have much experience with dirt bikes. Oh, wait a minute….. I  believe we do.

Inside of YMCA, we are working on our upcoming national dealer conference where we will be hosting several hundred dealers and staff for a few days at Deerhurst Resort in central Ontario. We wont be presenting a lot of new snowmobile product at this one. There is lots going on with the propellers, squirt guns and wheeled product. I plan to keep myself busy with our tracked ATV and ORV vehicle display and demos where I know the conversation will certainly turn to snow… Until next week, cheers.

cr

 

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Posted @ 2:13 pm in Industry News   

September 14, 2015

Hey Hey Hay

Well I’m back. Hope you had a great summer, I sure did! I spent the latter part of August at the cottage dragging kids (old and young) around the lake, dropped into the office only long enough to print a plane ticket and depart for Minneapolis – meetings and Hay Days. The highlight of the latter was seeing so many old friends from the industry. Some wearing new hats, some retired, some still plugging away… but all smiling.

I’m sorry I missed the Totallyamaha ‘meet and greet’ but did run into Tom for a chat and was happy to introduce him to Mark Lester from SnowTrax TV / Supertrax mag. Our friends at Camso (aka Camoplast) were set up just behind the Yamaha booth with lots of interesting track systems on display. A very special old friend of mine Jim Kedinger, is managing their ATV ROV track kit field marketing and it was exciting to see Yamaha USA announce the distribution of the Camso 4S track systems through their dealer network. This is not a plug so much as a triumph for me. I have been a big believer in these kits over the years and quietly lobbied approval to distribute for our products anytime I could find someone to listen to me.

The new YXZ’s were front and center in the Yamaha booth creating a lot of buzz and Mac over at MPI had another unit close by with his new turbo kit installed, ready to rip the wheels off anything our competition cares to throw at us.

Our friends at Cat were having fun, with Troy showing a teaser snow-bike (briefly) on the roof off their semi and Brian pulling the sheets off the new green race sled. There was no shortage of corporate brass in attendance in the manufactures row but not a neck tie in sight, thankfully. On the way in I spotted something very special in the parking lot, pointing it out to Pete. ‘Look over there. Way down that last row of vehicles, see it?? It’s a car!!’ Never seen so may pickups in one place – ever.

Other highlights? Too many to mention. The constant braaap of mod sleds in the background. The lawn chairs and cooler under the OSM tent come to mind. Kevin Bielke from Snowtech in his game warden outfit. Editor at large, Jerry Basset’s words of encouragement. Luke Lester departing full aero on a used Craftsman lawn tractor. Getting smoked out by a ‘Wankel’ powered Panther. The dude with the SRX, gutted and converted into a pull trailer, hauling away his swag. Greg Marier now retired with his big poop eating grin. Big Doug B from Cat sporting dark Yamaha sunglasses. The ever witty Pat Bourgeois’ insight on Coors brewing expertise. The seemingly endless miles of used parts, sleds, junk and their colorful purveyors (nice tooth there bubba!) And last but not least all the better halves… America’s truly got talent!!

So now that I have warmed up the keys, I’ll try to put something more product / business related together over the next while, lighting up Sled Talk as the days continue to get shorter. And for those of you who reminded me last weekend that some people actual read and enjoy this blog – Thanks!!!

Think snow!

cheers cr

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Posted @ 3:40 pm in Industry News,Travel and Events