In the late 1950’s, the little town of Crosby, Minnesota was suffering. Given dramatic declines in the local mining industry, most of the other communities in centralMinnesota’sCuyunaIronRangewere suffering as well. It was in this turbulent environment that three local men, Glen Gutzman,Eugene”Stub” Harrison and Richard “Dick” Harrison joined forces to form Trail-A-Sled, Inc. in April of 1959. Setting out not to form a snowmobile powerhouse but to simply survive, the three founders began designing a wide range of fiberglass-based products from their ramshackle garage.
Although they faced many challenges along the way, the firm’s all-fiberglass “Scorpion” snowmobile was a surprise hit for model year 1965. Leveraging the nimble little Scorpion’s innovative rubber track, the firm grew dramatically, quickly becoming the areas biggest employer and among the world’s largest manufacturers of snowmobiles and related products. Unlike snowmobile assemblers, Trail-A-Sled, Inc. was a “vertically integrated” manufacturer, producing nearly all their machine’s components in-house. So respected was the firm’s manufacturing capabilities, that the company produced parts for many other snowmobile brands, even for competitors.
Tragically they lost it all in a fire in 1967 – leaving a third of the town unemployed and the company virtually in ruins. The fire would have destroyed most companies and should have ruined the community ofCrosby. But the founders, the community – even their competitors – would not allow that to happen. Through sheer determination, Trail-A-Sled quickly regained its footing and soon moved cross-town to a sprawling new manufacturing campus.
In 1969 the three founders sold their fast-growing company to Fuqua Industries and the name was soon changed to Scorpion, Inc. In 1970, management disputes prompted the full resignation of the firm’s founders – each walking away from a company in the prime of its life. As Dick would later say, “we’d had enough … we took our marbles and went home.”
The years that lay immediately ahead would prove difficult for all snowmobile manufacturers and by 1978, the now smaller firm was sold to Arctic Cat who would soon move production toThiefRiverFalls. In the end, the community ofCrosbylost the company it had fought so hard to keep alive. Adding insult to injury, whenArcticCat themselves went broke in 1981, the Scorpion name was seemingly lost to history.