Polaris Saves 50 Jobs in WI, Buys Indian Motorcycle

Almost one-tenth of the 515 jobs scheduled to be cut in Osceola, Wisconsin, have been spared thanks to stronger-than-projected company growth; separately, Polaris said that it has bought Indian Motorcycle for an undisclosed sum.

Polaris Industries, Inc., said Thursday that it will keep almost 10 percent of the jobs at its Osceola, Wisconsin manufacturing facility-which it previously intended to shutter.

The Medina-based recreational vehicle manufacturer, which already makes Victory-branded motorcycles, also separately announced that it has bought another well-known American brand-Indian Motorcycle.

Polaris said that its decision to keep 50 engine assembly jobs at its Osceola plant was in response to stronger-than-projected company growth in recent months. The company announced Wednesday that its 2011 first-quarter revenue rose 49 percent to $537.2 million, and its net income grew 139 percent to $47.3 million, over the same period last year.

In May 2010, Polaris announced plans to close the 515-employee plant as part of a companywide realignment that involved opening a new plant this year near Monterrey, Mexico.

“Since we announced the strategic realignment last year, our volumes are up significantly in each of our businesses and our U.S. plants are full from a physical footprint standpoint,” Polaris CEO Scott Wine said in a statement. “While we have outperformed our original volume projections, the Osceola team has executed flawlessly and continues to produce world-class, quality products. In order to meet escalating demand while maintaining our focus on quality, keeping some engine capability and output in Osceola was an obvious choice.”

The employees at the Osceola plant will work on motorcycle, snowmobile, and off-road vehicle engines.

Earlier this year, Polaris sold its metal stamping equipment to Grafton, Wisconsin-based Kapco, Inc., and the two parties signed a three-year deal under which Kapco would become one of Polaris' largest suppliers and lease up to 60,000 feet of space at its Osceola plant.

Polaris spokeswoman Marlys Knutson said Wednesday that Kapco is in that space now-and that it employs approximately 60 people who previously worked for Polaris at its Osceola facility. Consequently, Polaris and Kapco have together saved 110 of the 515 jobs previously expected to be cut from the Osceola plant.

In its announcement about having bought Indian Motorcycle of Kings Mountain, North Carolina, Polaris said that Indian will operate as an autonomous business unit. The company bought Indian from British private equity firms Stellican Limited, and Novator Partners, LLP, and financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“We are excited to be part of the revitalization of a quintessentially American brand,” Wine said in a statement. “Indian built America's first motorcycle. With our technology and vision, we are confident we will deliver the classic Indian motorcycle, enhanced by the quality and performance for which Polaris and Victory are known.”

Polaris is among Minnesota's 30-largest public companies based on revenue, which totaled $1.99 billion in 2010-up 27 percent from 2009. Net income totaled $147.1 million last year, up 46 percent from 2009. The company employs about 3,300.

Last month, Polaris made a record $13.6 million profit share payment to its employees-which amounted to nearly 19 percent of their annual salaries, on average.

Related Stories