ASV: From acquisition to independence


ASV is redefining its identity, and the compact track loader

When Terex purchased ASV in 2008, they made the decision to dissolve the company’s brand.

By that point, ASV was celebrating its 25th year in business, and the Grand Rapids, Minnesota-based company had reached $246 million in revenue and a peak market value of $926 million. 

“We grew and grew and grew. We really had the plant running at full capacity at that point,” said Regan Meyer, dealer development and marketing manager. “Then we were purchased by Terex in 2008. Everything transitioned to be under the Terex name.”

For the following six years, the Grand Rapids factory would produce Terex branded compact track loaders and skid steers. 

“There was a gap in time there when ASV was a memory for some folks,” said Justin Rupar, ASV’s vice president of sales and marketing.

Rebirth of a brand

However, in 2014, Manitex International acquired 51 per cent of ASV from Terex, and the following year, the ASV independent dealer network was relaunched. 

“We started with zero dealers, and have now built our way up to well over 200 ASV dealers,” Meyer said. “Slowly but surely, we transitioned and brought the number of white Terex units coming out of our factory down and brought the number of ASV machines up.”

In 2017, ASV completed its Initial Public Offering (IPO) on the NASDAQ. 

The IPO also marked the end of Terex’s hand in managing the company. Today, Terex still holds about 31 per cent of ASV’s shares, solely as an investment. 

“So, at this point, we’re kind of responsible for our own destiny. It can be a really scary thing, but it can be an empowering thing too,” Meyer said. “That’s how people have taken it at the factory. There’s a lot of pride and fun in having that ASV name back again.

“We’re kind of like a startup, but we have all this experience.”  

ASV factory
A compact track loader makes its way down the assembly line at ASV’s factory in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.

Creating ASV

ASV (All Season Vehicles) was founded in 1983 by Edgar Hetteen and Gary Lemke when they set out to develop a pick-up-sized rubber-tracked vehicle called the Track Truck. Both Hetteen and Lemke were forerunners of the early snowmobile industry.

Hetteen founded Polaris Industries followed by Arctic Cat. Lemke was owner of the largest Arctic Cat dealerships in North America.

Their creation, the Track Truck, featured ground pressure equal to less than a human on foot.

“Those gentlemen were wildly entrepreneurial. That entrepreneurial spirit is still alive today,” Rupar said. 

A few years after creating the Track Truck, ASV tackled track loaders. In 1990, the company launched the first Posi-Track rubber track loader to meet the needs of construction, agricultural and landscaping industries.

“We remain the industry’s only all rubber flexible design. It’s fully flexible and it can flex to objects,” said Buck Storlie, ASV’s product line manager. 

“There’s no steel in our designs, that’s what is distinctively different about it.”

ASV also evolved its compact track loaders to include today’s open-rail and drive-sprocket undercarriage, which provides advanced traction on soft, wet, slippery, rough or hilly terrain.

“If you keep it open, material finds its way in, but it also finds its way out,” Storlie said.

ASV test track
At its R&D facility, ASV uses a dynamometer to test all new models before they launch. The dyno test ensures the machine can meet a 100 per cent load spec, 100 per cent of the time at 118 degrees F.

ASV today

All ASV compact track loaders, skid steers and undercarriages are built at the company’s 21,174 square metre factory in Grand Rapids. Set on 27 acres, the facility now employs more than 180 people. 

“In just the last couple of years we have grown greatly,” Meyer said. “When we were able to bring that sales and marketing piece back to ASV is when we started adding a lot of team members.” 

Last March, ASV added a new parts distribution centre adjacent to its factory. 

“That was kind of the last piece to come up from Terex,” Meyer said. “That makes everything on site here in Grand Rapids.” 

At the factory, ASV’s fabrication department currently employees 21 people, including 11 welders. 

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In the month of April alone, the fabrication team completed 6,500 weldants, compared to 2,500 in the same month in 2016. The company is now adding a night shift to tackle more fabrication in-house. 

“We have better control, and better control of costs,” said Frank Gangi, welding fabrication area manager, while explaining the move to in-house fabrication.  

Nearby the factory is ASV’s 65-acre research and development test facility set on the Mississippi River. 

“We’re consistently testing the machines on multiple shifts per day and getting as many hours as possible on it to get feedback to the engineering team,” Meyer said. 

“We’re getting them ready one to two years before launching them.”

Looking forward, ASV has tasked itself with disrupting the compact track loader market. 

“We are a challenger company, we want to create a new set of rules for the industry,” Rupar said. 

“We don’t want to live in the box of what CTLs are today.”