The Ariens Co.’s recently announced partnership with Polaris will kick off with the introduction of a new work utility vehicle in September. The vehicle is yet to be named, but will be marketed under the Gravely brand. Dealer training will begin in March.
The vehicle replaces Gravely’s current UTV product line, the Treker. Dan Ariens, Ariens president and chief executive officer, says the two companies began discussions about a year ago.
“We were in the early stages of the redesign for the Treker. We wanted something more robust, with more horsepower and better hauling capacity — a true vehicle for delivering goods, not just for sport,” Ariens says. He says Polaris approached them about a partnership. “The longer we talked, the more it made sense.”
Ariens cites Polaris’ proven design with its UTVs, especially its Brutus commercial vehicle, in terms of hauling capacity, durability and features. “We will be in a family like Brutus, but it will have Gravely DNA,” Ariens says. “The product is still in the design phase and we’re now getting up to speed with relationships and cross-selling opportunities.”
Ariens says the new UTV gives dealers another product to sell to a current customer base, including commercial landscape contractors and groundskeepers.
“Our dealers are talking to them now about our lawn mowers, power equipment and chore products. It’s a new product for this same customer.”
He says there is a lot of competition already in the market, but believes their product will stand apart. “We’re bringing a product that is very utilitarian. It will have a lot of characteristics of Brutus in terms of multiple attachment points and the ability to use it for four seasons. As strong as we think this new vehicle will be, we think we can be an important player in this niche.”
Complementing Companies, Dealer Networks
Ariens refers to the “commonality” of the two companies as basis for the partnership. “To me, it’s cultural. We just have a lot of similarities in the cultures of our businesses. They’re based in Minnesota and we’re based in Wisconsin, so we’re both upper Midwest companies. They do snowmobiles. We do snow blowers. They sell through a dedicated dealer channel. We sell through a strong dealer channel in different markets,” he says. “We’re both manufacturers of vehicles. We just go to work in a different way.”
Ariens’ dealer network includes about 3,600 dealers throughout North America, and Ariens says the two companies can leverage their dealer networks to cross sell. “There is a community of dealers where Polaris has strength and we do not. There might be opportunities for our dealers to sell their products and their dealers to sell ours.”
Ariens says the Polaris partnership is a unique situation and not based on a company strategy regarding seeking partnerships.
“It would be difficult to find one that works as well as this has the potential to work,” he says.