Quantfury Daily Gazette
An all-terrain adventure
One winter morning, we were with my parents on a walk in the mountains. It was a very cloudy and cold day, the drizzle was constant, and the visibility of the road was scarce due to the closeness we had with the clouds. On the side of the road, I managed to identify an ATV rental, and my eyes automatically sparkled. I let my parents know that I wanted to drive one, but due to my young age of 11 years old at the time, I could only ride as a passenger. Together with my father, I lived that experience that I will never forget; he sat me in the front seat and began to drive along the winding road that ran through a sector of the mountain. For a few moments, he let me take control of the accelerator, brake and steering. If I had known this, my mother would never have let us go together; it was a spectacular moment.
Since this event, I have always liked off-road adventures; during summer vacations on the beaches of Brazil, I have taken advantage of the ATV or UTV tours offered by the locals on the dunes or sand dunes. For those who do not know, the UTV is a vehicle that was specially designed to fulfill certain tasks that a conventional car cannot do, such as, for example, to travel through complicated terrain with little room for maneuver. Despite its focus on the professional sector, this type of vehicle is also used for pure off-road fun. On my way to work, it is inevitable to overlook a huge commercial store located two blocks from my house, on a major avenue of the city. The shop windows show impressive UTVs of different colours and styles, along with some ATVs and related accessories.
This establishment is part of a prestigious American brand founded in 1954 by Edgar Hetteen with the aim at that time of manufacturing snowmobiles. This young man realized that the existing vehicles at that time were inadequate for this type of terrain, and for this reason, together with his brothers, he started the company Polaris Inc (NYSE: PII). In 1956, the brand launched its first snowmobile, the Sno-Traveler. This vehicle sold well and established Polaris Inc (NYSE: PII) as a major player in the industry. In 1960, the company introduced the first air-cooled engine, which allowed its vehicles to perform better in extremely cold environments. That same year, Polaris began manufacturing snowmobiles and in 1985, expanded its production to ATVs, commonly known as off-road ATVs. Since then, the company has been a leader in the ATV market.
Hetteen, its founder, was a strong advocate of motorsports safety and helped set safety standards within the industry. In 1980, he retired from Polaris due to his differences from other members of the company. He had founded Polaris Inc (NYSE: PII) with his brothers Allan and Edgar Jr., but due to the significant growth of the brand in the 1970s, they hired new executives to manage the business. Edgar was concerned that the company was losing its focus on innovation and manufacturing quality, so he faced several discussions with executives as to the direction the company should take. Ultimately, he decided to retire and sell his stake in the company. After his retirement, he moved to Alaska, where he founded another power sports company, Alaska Snowmobile Salvage. He continued to work in the industry for the rest of his life and was inducted into the hall of Fame in 2004. Hetteen passed away in 2019 at the age of 97.
For its part, Polaris Inc (NYSE: PII), led by its executives, continued to grow significantly over the years. In 2011, it acquired the iconic company in the motorcycle industry, Indian Motorcycle, which was founded in 1901. The company invested in modernizing the brand and launched a new line of Indian motorcycles in 2013. From early 2011 to the present, Polaris’ stock has risen more than 200%, an average of 16% each year. Today, it is a global company with a wide range of products, including ATVs, motorcycles, snowmobiles, utility vehicles, boats and marine engines. The company is headquartered in Minnesota and has more than 13,000 employees worldwide.
Edgar undoubtedly played a key role in the foundations that led to the brand’s success. Despite his retirement and later his death, the company has grown steadily to this day, and his name is remembered with great appreciation. As a conclusion to his biography and to my way of thinking, I can convincingly argue that focusing our energy on what we are passionate about ignites the spark for a full and happy life. And as it happened to Edgar Hetteen, possibly something we strive for today will have a positive impact on society even after we are gone.
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