Reid Wilson is the Vice President / GM – Off Road Recreation / Polaris RZR, General and Youth Products, and he just so happens to be one the coolest and most chill “bigwigs” you’ll meet in the off-road industry. He’s a graduate of the prestigious Georgetown University McDonough School of Business with an MBA in Marketing, and spent nearly 5 years as a Marketing Manager for Molson Coors Beverage Company before moving over to Polaris owned Indian Motorcycles in 2017. He rode his way up to VP at Indian before moving over to VP and General Manager at Polaris back in April of 2021 and since then he has overseen some of the most important growth in the Polaris brand. We caught up with Reid recently at the launch of (not one, but three) new custom, limited edition Troy Lee Designs machines which they debuted in typical Polaris style!
UTVUG: Reid, you’ve been with Polaris for nearly nine years now, moving up the ranks from Indian to now RZR – what inspired you to make the leap from two wheels on the pavement to four wheels in the dirt?
RW: “I think I was in the right place at the right time. I am thankful for the opportunity to work in off road – I’ve been a gearhead all my life, so being in this position is a dream come true for me.”
UTVUG: The sport UTV market has a lot of segmentation in its user base. The mud guys react differently to things than the girls who ride in the desert. Families look for different features than men in their 30’s. The culture is different from East to West coast and down South. How are you finding the balance/challenge of creating unified messaging and RZR products for all those groups at once?
RW: “We think most people ride for the same reasons – to connect with the outdoors and other like-minded folks, to see and explore new places, and to feel the thrill of tackling an obstacle or pushing their limits. So the types of riding may be diverse, but the underlying motivations are similar.”
UTVUG: Polaris has worked with Troy Lee on an entire lineup of clothing and soft goods, as well as a custom General. Talk about that connection and work together. What was it about Troy’s approach to branding and design that led to this partnership initially? Will we see this partnership cross over into other Polaris brands like Indian and Slingshot?
RW: “Troy is an icon in the off road world. The whole team has been an admirer of his work for many years, we jumped at the chance when the opportunity came up to partner. It helped that our head of product planning (Dave Elia) and Troy Lee already had a strong relationship.”
UTVUG: The partnership with Troy Lee is one of many like Fox, Rockford Fosgate, and more, that have aligned the RZR brand with some of the industry’s biggest leaders and innovators. Talk about the importance of these strategic alliances.
RW: “We love working with like-minded partners who know the category. We learn from each other and collaborate to build products that deliver what our customers want. This project is just the beginning of where we can take partnerships like this in the future.”
UTVUG: From an industry person’s perspective it’s apparent that Polaris has gone down the list of features and accessories often missing in the early days of sport UTV’s, and one by one made them either part of the stock RZR platform or offered them as accessories in your growing arsenal of add-ons. Things like the cage design, wheel and tire size, and even entertainment have all been “solved” to the delight of many. What was the objective with this new Troy Lee Edition RZR? Was it an effort to solve the challenge of customers wanting a machine that looks as good as it performs?
RW: “This project really reaches people who are fans of Troy’s work and also want something limited and unique – for both themselves and their family.”
UTVUG: The Polaris RZR platform has undergone some pretty radical changes from its humble beginnings as initially an extension of the Ranger lineup. Every year the RZR seems to grow in size, power, and technology – what’s coming this year from RZR? Are you guys making another radical leap fwd or just looking to further refine the product line?
RW: “We will also keep pushing – it is in our DNA. But that’s all I can say about new product coming.”
Author: Josh Martelli