Arctic Cat’s parent company joined ranks with the Great Outdoors Group to launch a new line of ATVs that will be made in Thief River Falls and sold in more than 200 Tracker, Cabela’s and Bass Pro shops and boat dealerships nationwide.
The new Tracker Off Road line of vehicles announced this week will debut in the spring. It came out of a partnership between Arctic Cat’s parent firm Textron Inc. and the Great Outdoors Group’s Tracker Division, officials said.
The new vehicles will be made alongside the existing Arctic Cat models of four-wheelers and snowmobiles that are made in Thief River Falls, said Brandon Haddock, spokesman for the Textron Specialized Vehicles division.
Haddock said he could not specify how many of the new vehicles will be made in Minnesota. It also is not yet known how many new workers Textron will add to the Thief River Falls site.
Rhode Island-based Textron Inc. bought Arctic Cat in January 2017 for $247 million and incorporated it into the Textron Specialty Vehicles division. The unit now includes the Arctic Cat vehicles, Cushman utility vehicles, E-Z-GO golf carts, Jacobsen turf care equipment and Textron GSE ground support equipment.
The Great Outdoors Group is better known by boat and fishing lovers for its Tracker, Ranger, Stratos and Triton boat brands and its Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s shops.
Scott Ernest, CEO of Textron Specialized Vehicles, said the company is excited to extend the Tracker brand’s “reach and reputation into the off-road industry.”
Bass Pro founder and Great Outdoors head Johnny Morris said in a statement that the vehicles will deliver “industry-leading quality our customers have come to expect from the Tracker brand.”
“Our incredible partners at Textron are forging Tracker Off Road vehicles with the same levels of deep expertise that goes into building state-of-the-art business jets, marine assault vehicles and military helicopters,” Morris said.
Bass Pro spokesman Michael Zerman said there was no state aid involved in deciding to manufacture the Tracker Off Road vehicle in Thief River Falls. “Together with Textron, we are excited to continue to invest and grow in the state,” Zerman said.
At the time Textron bought Arctic Cat, there were 1,600 employees, mostly in the Thief River Falls factory, an engine manufacturing plant in St. Cloud and at the company’s new headquarters in the North Loop neighborhood of Minneapolis.
Soon after the acquisition, Textron, shut the Minneapolis offices but said it was committed to continuing the Arctic Cat brand. Before its purchase, Arctic Cat had struggled for years as larger competitors dominated the field and expanded into new products.
Analysts praised the acquisition by the $14 billion Textron, noting that deeper pockets and fresh connections with different markets should help boost sales and profits.
Textron’s stock closed Thursday up 5.6 percent at $51.92.
Dee DePass • 612-673-7725