A decade of the Force
Sport and leisure snowmachines gaining ground on workhorse cousins

by Doug Ashbury
Northern News Services

NNSL (Nov 26/97) - Ten years ago, Yellowknifer and entrepreneur Doug Witty opened a snowmachine business.

Since that first day, Nov. 21, 1987, the business has grown substantially.

In the beginning, Force One sold only Yamaha snowmachines and virtually all of them would be put to work hauling supplies in the North.

He later added Polaris and Mercury products. The business, started in the Kam Lake industrial park, now employs 10 people.

On trends, Witty said one of the biggest has been the emergence of the Northern sport and leisure snowmachiner. Today, about 40 per cent of Force One's snowmachines sold are sport models, he said.

Between Yamaha and Polaris, Force One sells more than 200 snowmachines per year, he added.

Witty preferred to not divulge exactly how many snowmachines he sells but he is a 1996-97 Polaris century club member -- his second in a row. Each year, Polaris recognizes dealers who sell at least 100 snowmachines a year.

To help mark the business's 10th anniversary, Yamaha Motor Canada Ltd. western regional sales manager Tony Cording and Yamaha district sales manager Darren Hill were at the Old Airport Road location Saturday.

"Force One is a key independent dealer for Yamaha in the North," Cording said. "Force One ranks in the top 10 per cent nationally in customer service rating."

Cording also said the North has played a key role in the creation of one Yamaha model and the development of another.

"I don't think people know just how significant the Northwest Territories has been to Yamaha," he said.

"In 1980, we began a NWT program, which resulted in the first long track," he said, referring to the ET 340, now the Enticer 410.

The North also played a significant role in the development of the Bravo 250, he added.

Cording said Yamaha gathered so much information on this machine from NWT residents that it was refined for Northern climate and geography.

The Bravo, a 250-cc workhorse, is Yamaha's mainstay in the utility sled sector. Cording said that in Newfoundland, Yamaha sells more than 1,000 Bravos a year.

Asked if he minds Yamaha sleds selling alonside Polaris machines, he said: "Competition is good for the sole. He (Witty) recognizes he has an obligation to provide a wide cross section of products."

To continue a strategy of offering more products, Witty said next year he will be stocking motorcycles for the fist time in five years.