This page is dedicated to the many men and women who made Trail-A-Sled, Inc. and Scorpion, Inc. such a unique success story. Former employees, racers, suppliers and dealers/distributors are specifically honored below. If you wish to submit an individual for addition to this page, please use our Contact form.
Donald L. Bergstrom - Eagle Bend, MN - In the early 1950s Donald Bergstrom of Eagle Bend, Minnesota (a decorated WW II veteran, pilot and accomplished mechanic) turned his creative attention toward a new hobby - propeller-driven snow machines (known at different junctures as air-sleds, wind-sleds or Aerosleds). A self-taught inventor, Don perfected a process of welding conduit and rolled aluminum to produce streamlined and lightweight snow-machines. Sold primarily by word of mouth throughout the Upper Midwest, Don’s part-time hobby produced nearly 100 such air-sleds between 1953 and 1959 (approx). Selling for as much as $1,200, the air-sleds garnered significant attention and were the subject of numerous media reports. In an era devoid of snowmobiles and ATVs, Don's air-sleds were at the cutting edge of an industry that would soon revolutionize life in the snow belt. Don began collaborating with Glen Gutzman and Fritz Willis in 1957-58 (approx) and when Glen’s desires to increase production didn't align with Don’s commitment to family, Don sold most of his equipment and material as manufacturing was relocated to Crosby-Ironton, Minn. (1958 approx) where these wonderful machines quickly reemerged under the Trail-A-Sled moniker. Now devoted full-time to his family, Don continued his work as a rural postal carrier until his retirement in 1978. – August 5, 1994 – 71 years
David A. "Pappy" Burns - Pappy founded Motorcycle Sales, Inc. in 1959 and became TAS’ Alaskan distributor in 1966, adding Scorpion snowmobiles to his growing line of Harley Davidson and Suzuki motorcycles. Along the way, Pappy also exhibited a flare for adventure and became an accomplished pilot. The famous Alaskan Endurance Run of 1967 was one of his many exploits. His firm distributed Scorpions throughout Alaska and into Canada’s Yukon Territory until 1975 when he sold-out to a local businessman. Pappy has been actively involved in the gold mining business in the years since. He now retires in Oregon. Click here to contact Pappy directly.
Benjamin L. "Ben" Bellefeuille - Crosby, MN - Already a veteran salesman and accountant, Ben joined TAS in 1967 at the age of twenty-four. While managing the firm's accounts receivable and payroll departments, Ben was also a successful member of the TAS racing team and played a crucial role in the firm's innovative Trail-A-Sail program. Ben left the firm in 1974 to join Polaris where he worked as a branch finance manager in Boise, Idaho until his passing. - July 8, 1976 - 33 years
Larry Carstens – Outing, MN - After eight years with Boise Cascade, Larry joined Scorpion as a purchasing manager in 1970. He held several positions within the firm; including Vice President of Operations where he was responsible for manufacturing, parts and accessories, as well as personnel and engineering. He was one of the six managers who acquired stock when the firm was purchased from Fuqua in 1973. Larry was responsible for the transfer of the JLO Engine facility from Germany to Crosby and he made two trips to Pinnenburg, Germany to expedite this important effort. He also created a valuable training program for the Crosby-based personnel responsible for ongoing manufacture of the Cuyuna Engine. Following the Arctic Enterprises acquisition, Larry was appointed Vice President and Assistant General Manager, reporting to industry-legend Edgar Hetteen. Leaving the firm in January of 1979, Larry worked in the wild rice industry for a number of years. Together with is wife Barbara, Larry retires in central Minnesota's beautiful lakes country.
Kevin "Chuck" Connors – Los Angeles, CA - Chuck spent five years in the saddle as TV's famed "Rifleman," and starred in other exciting western adventure shows including "Branded" and "Cowboy in Africa." A star for 40 years, he made 60 motion pictures and an incredible volume of TV work. He was also a baseball player with the Cubs and Dodgers, and played pro basketball with the Celtics. Chuck Connors was larger-than-life, a beloved father in real life, and a western legend never to be forgotten. For model years 1975 and 1976, Scorpion asked Chuck to be their corporate spokesperson. Chuck's rugged persona was a perfect complement to the firm's new western-themed snowmobiles and the promotional campaign proved to be highly successful. In 1999 David Fury released the fascinating biography, Chuck Connors: The Man Behind the Rifle - Artist's Press Publishers. Chuck is also featured in numerous video files available on the Media page. - November 10, 1992 - 71 years
Warren E. Daoust – Pensacola, FL - A graduate of New York’s St. John’s University, Warren spent several years in the mid-1960's as President of the Halverson Company in Duluth Minnesota, Bombardier’s North American distributor at the time. In 1967 Warren was instrumental in developing the recreational industry’s first water-based alternative to snowmobiles, the Bombardier Sea-Doo. Warren joined Trail-A-Sled, Inc. in 1968 as the firm’s first Vice President of Marketing. Following the management shakeup of 1970, Warren was named President and Chief Operating Officer by Fuqua Enterprises in December of that same year. A talented marketer, Warren pressed hard to increase production and product variety. Pressing to be "number two in 72", Warren dramatically expanded Scorpion’s product line, including numerous product innovations like the Stingerette, the Para-Rail suspension and the Power-Thrust clutch. On the heels of industry decline, Warren returned to Bombardier Corporation as President of the firm’s Duluth-based Can-Am Division in 1973. Beginning in 1982 he also worked as a Sales Manager for Scamp Trailers of Backus, Minnesota before health problems prompted a move to Pensacola, Florida in 1986. A man of strong Christian faith, Warren lived-out his days serving the poor and needy. - October 3, 1994 – 57 years
John E. Eastman – Pillager, MN - Already a veteran machinist who made a name for himself designing and racing record-setting outboard motors, John founded Eastman Machine and Tool in Pillager MN in 1965. Soon John was supplying track and bogie-wheel rubber molds for TAS and other snowmobile manufacturers (e.g. Fox Trac). Later, John also played a key role in Brut engine designs. As TAS and Scorpion moved towards poly tracks, Eastman Tool transitioned into other lines of business. Along the way, John purchased fascinating segments of Scorpion machinery including the firm's legendary Spyder inventory which John sold through 1977. Thereafter, John lived in semi-retirement until his passing. - January 16, 1981 - 72 years
James R. Engen – Brainerd, MN - A Navy veteran and manager of the successful Lockheed JetStar program in the 1960's, Jim moved to Minneapolis where he served for several years as Quality Control Manager for Control Data Corporation. During his tenure, Jim earned praise for his determined commitment to quality in manufacturing, setting in place a process and procedure that would come to be known as “Engen’s Law.” Jim joined Scorpion in October of 1972 and his warm personality and can-do attitude made an immediate impact upon the organization. Jim held various management positions from materials and manufacturing to research and development. The consummate hands-on manager, Jim even ran the grueling St. Paul Winter Carnival International 500 race for himself. Jim was particularly effective as the firm’s Director of Marketing where he upgraded Scorpion’s distribution and parts operation. He conducted sales and training seminars at the firm’s home office in Crosby as well as throughout Scorpion's expansive distribution network. Jim was a driving force behind the firm's significant diversification efforts and was part of the management team that bought-back Scorpion from Fuqua Enterprises in 1973. Departing the firm in December of 1980, Jim did some consulting work before landing as Operations Manager for Glenwood Manufacturing and then as Quality Control Manager for AcroMetal in Brainerd, Minnesota. He continued at AcroMetal until his retirement in 2000. | – December 14, 2004 – 66 years
John "Jinx" Ferrari - Partner in the Crosby Bar since 1954, Jinx co-founded the Snow Hut in 1972 and quickly built it into the world's largest and most successful independent Scorpion dealership. Featuring a large retail and service operation, the Snow Hut handled all employee sales for Scorpion and remained open until the Arctic Cat bankruptcy of 1981. Along the way, Jinx's son Rick Ferrari also had a successful Scorpion racing career. Ever searching for new opportunities, Jinx (together with his son Rick) picked-up Arctic's defunct Heavy Hauler trailer operation and built it into Range Manufacturing Co. also of Crosby. A respected Crow Wing County Commissioner since 1980, Jinx remained active in the community and continued as owner-operator of the Crosby Bar, Inc. until his passing. - April 19, 2007 - 72 years
J.B. Fuqua - A true American success story, J.B. rose from childhood poverty to build Fortune 500 conglomerate, Fuqua Enterprises. A legendary deal-maker, J.B. purchased Scorpion in 1969 but sold the firm back to an internal management group when a sagging economy severely impacted the health of the snowmobile industry. Politically powerful advisor to Presidents, J.B. and wife Dorothy became noted philanthropists in their later years. Duke University's Fuqua School of Business is his namesake. In 2002 J.B. published his memoir, How I Made My Fortune Using Other People’s Money – Longstreet Press.
Earl M. Hamilton - Crosby, MN - Already a local businessman who together with his father Harold owned successful hardware and insurance interests, Earl joined Trail-A-Sled, Inc as general manager in early 1965. Earl's administrative muscle guided the firm's meteoric rise as Trail-A-Sled grew by nearly 200% per year (both in terms of employment and production) while under his care. Along the way, Earl also acquired an equity interest in H&G Welding, a Trail-A-Sled affiliated company. Following the management shake-up of October, 1970, Earl returned to the insurance field until his passing. - February 14, 1975 - 45 years
Edgar E. Hetteen - Famed patriarch of modern snowmobiling, Edgar co-founded Polaris Industries and later, Arctic Enterprises. Although rivals at the time, Edgar graciously provided TAS with a critical shipment of Tillotson carburetors in 1967, helping the firm recover from a devastating fire. A true visionary and tireless advocate for the snowmobile industry, Edgar has been involved in a number of other business ventures including most recently, ASV, Inc. where he served as Officer and Director until his retirement in June of 2005. His fascinating autobiography, Breaking Trail: The Extraordinary Success Story of an Entrepreneur Who Never Gave Up - Focus Publishing, was published in 1998. Edgar is a member of the International Snowmobile Hall of Fame as well as the Snowmobile Hall of Fame. He resided with his wife Hannah in northern Minnesota until his passing. - February 12, 2011 - 90 years
Leon F. "Hub" Hubbard - Owner of the tool & die firm Hub Manufacturing, Co. of Minneapolis, Minn., Hub became acquainted with TAS in 1967 when his firm was contracted to update a number of TAS dies. Eventually, Hub became a partner in Glendik Manufacturing, Co. and H&G Welding before their eventual acquisition by Fuqua Industries. Still active in his business (together with his son Craig), Hub now splits his time between homes in Arizona and Minnesota.
Bradley J. Hulings - Already a savvy racing veteran, Brad joined Scorpion's SnoPro team for the 1979 season. While driving for Scorpion, Brad became the United States Snowmobile Association high-point leader and won the Eagle River World's Championship in 1981, ensuring that Scorpion's final racing season would be it's most successful. Following Scorpion's demise, Brad continued racing until 1989, closing-out one of the most decorated careers in racing. In 1984 he founded HRP Motorsports which he operates to this day. Brad is also a member of the Snowmobile Hall of Fame.
Clifford H. Kittelson - While working for TAS supplier De Bourgh Manufacturing Company in Minneapolis, Cliff caught the eye of TAS management and he joined the company in 1966 to run the firm's emerging welding business. Cliff played a key role in the growth of H&G Welding and was a highly successful member of the TAS racing team, including memorable efforts at the Eagle River World Championships and West Yellowstone. He also set a world distance jumping record on a drone-powered Scorpion in 1967. Following his departure in 1970, Cliff supervised a number of construction efforts and was a self-employed inspector for many years. He now retires in central Minnesota.
John P. “Jack” Laimer - Brainerd, MN - An acting chairman of the Brainerd Chamber of Commerce, Jack was hired as TAS’ first public relations professional in 1969. He thrived amid much of the turmoil of the 1970’s but his snowmobile career came to an end when Arctic Cat bought Scorpion in 1978. Along the way, Jack nurtured a growing career as a family-friendly humorist and talented motivational speaker. He popularized himself as “the $7 million dollar man,” one million for each of his seven children. An avid golfer, Jack was also director of golf at Ruttger’s Bay Lake Lodge for many years. Following his death, tributes to Jack abounded. - November 14, 2000 - 68 years
Leslie A. "Les" Locklear - A native of Duluth, Minn., Les joined Trail-A-Sled, Inc. as Parts Department Manager in 1969 and played a key role in expanding the firm's parts and inventory capacity during the company's biggest years. He also modernized the inventory control system and helped to establish a new factory distributorship in Brainerd, Minn. After his departure in 1971, Les spent many years with the Federal Government and now retires on Mississippi's beautiful Gulf Coast. Click here to contact Les directly.
Virgil R. Lueck - Initially reporting to Earl Hamilton, Virgil joined the emerging Trail-A-Sled, Inc. sales team in 1966 as a factory representative. Traveling extensively, Virgil represented the firm in numerous venues, from trade shows and promotional events to dealer meetings and photo shoots. After leaving the firm in the early-1970's Virgil worked for Dick Harrison's real estate development firm and later founded his own excavation business, which he ran until retirement. Virgil and wife Clarice remained in central Minnesota until his passing. - October 3, 2006 - 79 years
Harold G. "Hal" Noble - Already a veteran salesperson in the food industry, Hal was hired as National Sales Manager in June of 1970 and was soon promoted to Vice President of Marketing in December of that same year. Hal played a key leadership role as the firm managed a significant recall effort and transitioned back to a privately-held company (Hal was a part owner and member of the internal management group that bought-out the firm in 1973). Since leaving the snowmobile business in 1976 Hal has been involved in a number of ventures, including Noble House Trading Company, a food brokerage. Semi-retired, Hal and wife Pat now reside among the Sierra Nevada.
Duane Putikka - Esko, MN - Duane joined TAS as Plant Manager in early 1969. Under his watch, numerous productivity improvements were launched, including motorized conveyor systems to better automate the assembly process. Such improvements were crucial as the firm stretched to meet ever increasing demand, particularly for the new Stinger model. In late 1971 Duane joined Arctic Enterprises as Quality Control Manager. Later, Duane started his own manufacturing business in Cloquet Minnesota until its sale in 1999. Duane and wife Sharon are semi-retired and remain involved in Duluth-area real estate development. Click here to contact Duane directly.
Harvey V. Paulson - Brainerd, MN - Trained as a mechanical engineer at the University of Minnesota, Harvey was already a manufacturing veteran with a penchant for quality control when he contacted Fuqua Enterprises and expressed his interest in running the Crosby-Ironton facility. Partially in response to recent quality problems, Harvey was hired as Scorpion President by William R. Smith of Fuqua’s McDonough Power Equipment division in spring of 1973. Later that same year Harvey (together with six additional Scorpion employees) led an internal management effort to reacquire the firm. Once again under local control, Harvey and team dramatically updated Scorpion's product line, soon introducing the Whip and related brands. Harvey also sought to grow Scorpion through the acquisition of Brutanza Engineering Company, in-house manufacture of the Cuyuna engine, production of snowmobiles for Massey-Ferguson and expansion into other product lines (e.g. mopeds). Following the firm's sale to Arctic Enterprises in 1978, Harvey remained in Minnesota's central lakes area where he became General Manager for AcroMetal in Brainerd, Minn. In 1983 Harvey created PTS Tours, a motor coach travel service which he ran until his passing (PTS Tours remains in the Paulson family). Harvey's wife Janice also opened a successful travel agency, Paulson Travel Service. - March 23, 1991 - 57 years
Alfred Kron Peterson - After serving in WW II, Crosby-Ironton native and lifelong friend of Glen Gutzman, Al turned a childhood hobby into a successful photography business. Founding Minneapolis-based Promotional Films in 1952, Al gained a cadre of blue-chip Midwestern clients, including Lutheran Brotherhood, Hamm's Beer, Medtronics and Northwest Airlines where his productions typically featured outdoors, conservation and travel themes. Often photographing Glen's early aluminum-based air-sleds in the late 1950's, Al reconnected with Trail-A-Sled, Inc. when in early 1968 he shot the firm's first high-quality television commercials in Montana's beautiful Gallatin Valley. Al also produced To Catch a Thrill in 1975. Narrated by long-time WCCO Radio personality Steve Cannon, the fishing travelogue featured Trail-A-Sled, Inc. men and machines ice fishing on Ontario's beautiful Lake of the Woods. Renamed Knollwood Promotional Video, Al's firm adapted to changing technologies and is now run by his son, Alfred Jr. Al also created the innovative Values Added Photo System. He and his wife Shirley retire in the Twin Cities area.
Leslie A. Pinz - In a move toward diversification, Pinz Sand and Gravel of Isle, Minnesota became a TAS dealer in 1966. Also owned by father Arnold and brother Dennis, the Pinz gravel business benefited from the extra winter income the dealership afforded and brothers Les and Dennis relished the opportunity to race for the black and red. Racing for nearly a decade (1967-1976) Les spent most of his time throttling Scorpions, including the 1976 SnoPro team (Les raced for Polaris 1971-1975). Les was also a member of the legendary racing team dubbed Corzine's Kamikazes. Although Les long ago gave-up the racing circuit, he now enjoys test riding for American Snowmobiler Magazine and collecting vintage and antique snowmobiles. A true gentleman hobbyist, Les nurtures a marvelous collection of Scorpion machines and memorabilia, including a 1970 440 Hirth-modified Stinger and an extremely rare four-wheel Spyder. Les also owns the famous Polaris X-3. Les and his wife Donna enjoy an active life in central-Minnesota where they always remain open to new opportunities.
C.J. Ramstad - With the sudden passing of C.J. Ramstad, snowmobiling prematurely lost one of it's most passionate advocates and a man of profound talent and influence within our industry. A talented photographer, publisher, writer, historian, and journalist, C.J.'s personal encouragement and generosity did much to formulate the pages of what you now enjoy as Scorpion Online - for this we are indeed grateful. A true fan of vintage snowmobiling, C.J. was fascinated by the history of these marvelous machines and the pioneering men and women who breathed them to life. Few individuals did more to accurately preserve their memory than C.J. At times he seemed to be everywhere - including our own Scorpion Homecoming, an event he covered with graciousness and enthusiasm. Irreplaceable in so many ways, C.J. will indeed be missed. Tragically, the same accident that took C.J. also claimed his young son J.J. See snowpod.com for information regarding the Ramstad Memorial Fund. Although on-line accolades abound, a few of particular note may be found here: 1 | 2 | 3. Perhaps most touching is the KARE 11 story and video feature. - May 6, 2007 - 61 years
Louie Smilich - Joining the firm in 1967, Louie quickly moved from the fiberglass plant to become one of two factory representatives in 1968. Together with Virgil Lueck, Louie traveled the northern United States and well into Canada conducting seminars, training dealers, handling trade shows and attending countless races. An enthusiastic advocate for Scorpion, Louie stayed-on through the changes in 1970 and helped to create Scorpion Minnesota in Brainerd. Louie and his wife Maridee were also active members of the thrilling Trail-A-Sail team, with Maridee often serving as the parachutist. Louie left the firm in 1972 to found Smilich Enterprises, a Crosby-area excavation business. Now retired, Louie and Maridee split time between Montana and Minnesota's beautiful Central Lakes Area.
Leo Trepanier - Sanford, FL - Dick and Stub Harrison became acquainted with Leo in the mid-1950's while he was serving as a wild rice buyer for Northland Foods. Leo was a frequent visitor to Dick and Stub's wild rice processing facility in Crosby, Minn. as the Harrison plant was a key Northland supplier. Leo's brother-in-law, the politically powerful Duluth-based entrepreneur Jeno Paulucci (owner of both Northland Foods and Chung King Foods) would later help Trail-A-Sled acquire the key financing it needed to grow. Leo later moved to Florida where he was active in real estate development and ranching (Santa Gertrudis cattle). - October 7, 2002 - 87 years
Sidney L. Trulen - Marshfield, WI - An early advocate for Wisconsin snowmobiling, Sid's Snowmobile Sales, Inc. was among the first TAS dealers (1963) and became a Wisconsin-area distributor for TAS in 1965. Sid and his wife Marie worked tirelessly to promote not only their beloved Scorpion snowmobiles but were instrumental in developing snowmobiling as a family sport. Snowmobile Sales, Inc. was also very active in early racing circuits and brought home many a blue ribbon on Scorpion snowmobiles. The Trulen’s hosted elaborate weekly trail rides which featured Howie Sturtz and his orchestra - who regularly performed the Scorpion Polka. Following the sale of his Scorpion franchise to Fuqua Industries in 1973, Sid became involved in a number of ventures including the Farm House Supper Club in Medford, Wisconsin. Sid’s son Michael continues his legacy with Power Pac Inc, of Marshfield, Wisconsin. - April 23, 1990 - 69 years
Frank J. "Nunny" Vukelich - Already a veteran of underground mining, Nunny was a victim of massive layoffs in June of 1967 as Inland Steel's local ore operations ground to a halt. Rebounding, Nunny was hired by Earl Hamilton in September of that same year to run Trail-A-Sled's growing shipping & receiving department. Staying-on through the devastating fire of November 1967, Nunny played a key role in the firm's heroic reconstruction efforts, soon supervising well over 100 people, including the manufacturing, shipping & receiving and parts departments. After a hiatus during the Daoust years, Nunny rejoined the firm in 1973 for stints in parts and research & development. Following the facility's closure in 1980, Nunny became involved in a number of other ventures. A lifelong Crosby-Ironton resident, Nunny and his wife Betty Lou enjoy travel and retire in Minnesota.
Dennis J. "Denny" Wheat - Already operating D&H Motorcycle Sales (a dealer for Ski Doo snowmobiles and Yamaha motorcycles) in Bozeman, Montana, Denny signed-on as a TAS distributor in 1965. Soon changing the firm's name to Bozeman Distributing, Inc., Denny was assigned a four-state territory, including his home state of Montana as well as Wyoming, Idaho and Washington. In a move to control Scorpion, Inc's distribution channels, Denny's successful distributorship was closed by Fuqua Enterprises in 1971. Denny's brother Keith was also involved in the business and often hunted with TAS co-founders Stub Harrison and Dick Harrison in Montana's beautiful Gallatin Valley. Following the Fuqua closure Denny switched to Arctic Cat and ran a successful retail operation until he sold-out in 1978. In the 1980's Denny became involved in commercial real estate development. Semi-retired, he owns Bozeman's America's Best Value Inn.