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.
I 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 anomaly 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.