Dollars and Sense
May 27, 2021
Sauk Centre-based member business, Country Cat, continues to see improvements in energy efficiency paying off.
In 1991, Country Cat was officially established after 20-year-old Dave Wanderscheid and his 16-year-old brother Mark responded to an ad searching for a local Arctic Cat dealer.
The Wanderscheids had spent several years fixing snowmobiles for their friends throughout high school already, so they were very familiar with the Arctic Cat snowmobiles they would be selling. Their father let them set up their business in his heated shop to start. In the beginning, they put in several 18-hour days, especially in the busy winter months.
In 2001, they moved into their current location right off of County Road 186 outside of Sauk Centre. In the mid-2000s the Wanderscheids realized there was a great opportunity in online sales and started selling parts and products on eBay. In 2006, they transitioned to selling parts, oil, garments, accessories and more on their own website.
Today, over 90 percent of their business is generated through online sales. Country Cat has grown significantly over the years and now generates millions of dollars in revenue annually. The locally-owned business employs 30 people, including original owners Dave and Mark, and their brother PJ, who became part-owner of the family business earlier this year.
In addition to Arctic Cat equipment, Country Cat also sells E-Z-Go and Kawasaki equipment in its showroom, and several other brands of equipment, parts and apparel on its online store.
When the pandemic hit last year, Country Cat had to adapt to ongoing changes in the industry.
“Five years ago, we had too much inventory on hand. After COVID hit, we saw a change in manufacturing, and now we have to plan ahead and purchase more inventory in advance to ensure we have it available for our customers,” Dave explained.
“The pandemic also created a high demand for machines. Many people stayed home more over the last year and opted to purchase recreational equipment in lieu of spending money on other items, such as traveling expenses,” he continued. “We anticipate having a lower-than-normal machine supply over the next several months as our suppliers continue to catch up with the increased demand they saw across the nation.”
Over the last several years, Country Cat has implemented several energy efficiency improvements throughout the showroom and warehouse.
“A few years ago, we installed better, more efficient lighting in the showroom. We also installed LED lighting throughout our warehouse area,” Dave recalled. “We saw the benefit on our electric bill right away and it was obvious that the project would pay for itself over the next few years.”
“With our online store and our continued reliability on computers and technology, we also decided it was best to have a backup option for those times when we do lose power,” Dave continued. “We signed up for the Cooperative’s Interruptible Generator Program too, so our generator will kick in if and when we lose power.”
“At Stearns Electric, we are committed to helping all of our members save energy, and in turn save money, in their homes, businesses and on their farms,” John Pantzke, business development representative, said. “We offer several different programs and rebates at the Cooperative to help you find the best and most efficient energy options that work for you.”
“Making these improvements and taking advantage of these rebates really comes down to dollars and cents,” Wanderscheid said. “It just makes sense for us. You can see over time how these efficiency improvements pay for themselves.”
Stearns Electric Association is committed to helping our members use energy both safely and wisely. We offer a variety of rebates to help our commercial, industrial and agricultural (CI&A) members be more energy efficient. Rebates are available for LED lighting projects, electric vehicles, including cars and forklifts, electric HVAC upgrades, and robotic milking units, among other things. Please visit our website, www.stearnselectric.org, or contact our Energy Services department at (800) 962-0655 for more information.