4/4/2011-Former OEM official now leading Kolpin

New vice president will fine tune company’s product development process
The industry is the same. The desire to reach an ever-growing UTV segment is also the same, as is the need for constant product innovation.
The new executive vice president at Kolpin Outdoors Inc. sees a lot of similarities between his new company and his last employer, Polaris Industries.
Mike Stone, Kolpin’s new executive, quips that there are a “few less zeroes” in the financial reports, but there are considerable similarities in the two upper Midwest-based industry companies.
“Where I see the similarities is Polaris is a strong brand, great distribution and has very dedicated, loyal and innovative people,” he said in an interview with Powersports Business. “What I found here at Kolpin is very much the same thing. We have a great brand, we have very innovative products and you have an extremely talented and dedicated workforce here.”
Stone and his family, including their two young children, recently transitioned to Kolpin, a Fox Lake, Wis.-based company, after spending 12 years at Polaris. At Kolpin, Stone will lead product strategy, product development, sourcing and OEM sale activities for the aftermarket manufacturer of ATV and UTV parts and accessories.
“Polaris is obviously the best powersports company in the business, and the opportunity I had to train under the best management team in the industry was very valuable,” Stone said. “Learning from the overall workforce and being involved with the entire company was a great learning experience.”
He’ll bring that experience to Kolpin, which traditionally has relied primarily on its aftermarket sales, although it does have OEM relationships in place, including with KYMCO.
“It is a goal of Kolpin to try to get a bigger presence in that OEM powersports segment,” Stone said. “The (Kolpin) gun boot has always been a real big seller and the chainsaw press fits into those channels really well.”
Besides seeking additional OEM relationships, Stone also will be examining the company’s internal product development system.
“One of my top priorities is to fine tune the product development process,” he said. “They have a good process in place, but you can always make it better and make it so you’re working on the right products at the right prices to fill the right consumer needs.”
Stone also will be evaluating the company’s supply base, a key to aftermarket companies that have had to adjust to higher raw material prices and stricter inventory controls.
“Obviously we want to evaluate the current supply base,” he said. “This supply base has been in place quite awhile and it’s time to take a look and make sure we’re getting our products and partnering with the right suppliers.”
Tom Lutes, Kolpin’s president and CEO, noted Stone’s hiring represents a new position for the company.
“The addition of this key position will supplement an already strong team at Kolpin,” Lutes said in a press release, “and his significant experience and product knowledge in the powersports industry will help take Kolpin to the next level through its entry into new product categories.”
Stone noted to Powersports Business that Kolpin has a few product openings that the company will be addressing shortly. Undoubtedly, that will include additions to its UTV offerings.
“Kolpin has a core product offering today,” Stone said, “but there are a few key areas where there are opportunities. So we’ll be looking to fill some of those product line gaps.”

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