Polaris Co-Founder dies
Edgar Hetteen Passes Away
Edgar Hetteen, one of the co-founders of Polaris and such a long-time driving force in the snowmobile industry that he is commonly called “The Godfather of Snowmobiling.”
Polaris Industries Inc.
MEDINA, Minn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--
It is with great sadness that we relay word of the passing of the
legendary Edgar Hetteen, one of the co-founders of Polaris and
long-time driving force in the snowmobile industry that he is
called “The Godfather of Snowmobiling.”
Edgar died on Saturday, February 12. He was 90. "Edgar was an
snowmobile pioneer and visionary who helped grow a seed of a sport
industry into a thriving pursuit and business that people love
worldwide," said Polaris President and COO Bennett Morgan. "He was
inspiration to generations of Polaris employees who admired his
for innovation, and the way he enjoyed interacting with the people
involved in snowmobiling."
The son of first-generation Swedish immigrants, Edgar Hetteen grew
a farm near Roseau, Minnesota. Working with farm equipment, he
an engineer’s eye for innovation and invention, despite attaining
an eighth-grade education. He worked in an uncle’s machine shop as
teenager, served in the military, then founded Hetteen Hoist and
in the mid-1940s. His original partner was his eventual
David Johnson, who initially bought into the company by sending
Edgar from the Pacific region, where David was stationed in the
The company expanded beyond hoist and derrick work, building
customers needed, including a highly successful line of farm
Such a diverse company needed a less-restrictive name, so in 1954,
and David incorporated the business as Polaris Industries Inc. The
original partners in Polaris were Edgar, David and Edgar’s younger
brother, Allan Hetteen.
Two years later, a tracked invention emerged from the company’s
shop, the first Polaris snowmobile. Initially reluctant to embrace
vehicle’s sales potential, Edgar quickly became the greatest
the snowmobile industry has ever known. In 1960, he led a group of
Polaris snowmobiles on a remarkable 1,200-trip across Alaska to
the Polaris Sno-Traveler’s mobility and dependability. It was an
major milestone in snowmobile history, and it’s appropriate that
was in the lead.
Edgar left Polaris later that year, and shortly thereafter founded
another snowmobile company, Arctic Cat, meaning he had a hand in
founding half of the OEMs in today’s snowmobile industry.
Edgar’s spirit and passion for people and snowmobiling never left
company, and over the past several decades he has been a wonderful
ambassador for Polaris and for snowmobiling. He has been featured
Polaris advertising campaigns, and has made invaluable
special events such as company anniversary celebrations.
Edgar was a 1990 inductee into the International Snowmobile Hall
Fame, and a 1999 inductee into the Minnesota Business Hall of
2004 at Polaris’ 50th Anniversary he was inducted into
Polaris Hall of Fame. He has been honored by snowmobile groups
Alaska to Maine for spreading the gospel of snowmobiling, a sport
cherished not only for its mechanical appeal, but more for the
people involved at every level.
With annual 2010 sales of $1.99 billion, Polaris designs,
manufactures and markets off-road vehicles (ORVs), including
vehicles (ATVs) and the Polaris RANGER™, snowmobiles and Victory
motorcycles for recreational and utility use and has recently
a new on-road electric powered neighborhood vehicle.
Polaris is a recognized leader in the snowmobile industry; and one
the largest manufacturers of ORVs in the world. Victory
established in 1998 and representing the first all-new
motorcycle from a major company in nearly 60 years, are rapidly
impressive in-roads into the cruiser and touring motorcycle
Polaris also enhances the riding experience with a complete line
Polaris apparel, accessories and parts, available at Polaris
Polaris Industries Inc. trades on the New York Stock Exchange
symbol “PII,” and the Company is included in the S&P MidCap
Information about the complete line of Polaris products, apparel
vehicle accessories are available from authorized Polaris dealers
anytime from the Polaris homepage at www.polarisindustries.com.