CASPER — There’s a business just west of here that many people have likely seen, but few understand.
Tracked Outdoors specializes in refurbishing used Hagglunds all-terrain vehicles. The massive, tank-like plows are prominently displayed outside the Tracked Outdoors grounds a few miles west of Casper on U.S. Highway 26.
After this past severe winter, Tracked Outdoors President Larry Rubis said business is booming and keeping his staff busy all summer long.
“I think last winter was so severe, people are saying, “I got to get prepared,’” he said.
Hagglunds all-terrain vehicles are military-grade and designed for long distance travel through treacherous winter conditions.
While some of wheels, many maneuver around on tracks, which helps them churn through and over some of the harshest and rugged terrain.
“They’re just incredibly maneuverable,” Rubis said.
The original Hagglunds were in production from 1985-2005, when 12,000 were made. The company was then bought out and shifted its focus to building government vehicles, but the originals are still extremely popular and can be found in 130 countries, Rubis said.
Tracked Outdoors installs new engine packages in the rigs, like a Cummings R2.8 turbo diesel and an 8-speed transmission, which results in 30% more torque and 20% more horsepower. It also puts on new paint and adds other custom refurbishments to the original vehicles.
“What we do is strip them and take what was really good and make it better with the new horsepower, new engine,” Rubis said.
Global Customer Base
The company also performs service work on these vehicles for customers all across the country and Canada.
Some oil companies use their plows to access remote well sites and others use them to access private cabins. Their farthest customer is in Alaska.
But the company’s largest clients are search and rescue organizations, providing units to groups in Rock Springs, Rawlins, Casper, Douglas, Park City, Utah and several in Colorado.
Rubis said Carbon County Search and Rescue based in Rawlins, put 1,000 miles on its unit in less than a month.
Thanks to the high frequency of closures on Interstate 80 in the winter, Carbon County Search and Rescue frequently uses its Hagglunds on the highway to access stranded vehicles.
“They’re a really good thing for the community,” Rubis said.
The staff at Tracked Outdoors scout for used Hagglunds to buy online and refurbish for future customers. They also partner with a company in Canada that brings used Hagglunds to flip.
“There’s a lot more snow cats up there than here,” Rubis said.
Bells And Whistles
The Hagglunds can fit six people in its secondary unit, which also can fit a stretcher and is typically where rescued people are loaded into.
The vehicles aren’t spartan, many boasting navigation equipment and a back-end camera. They also have the ability to add upholstery and other luxury features, which some clients with deep pockets have taken advantage of.
Designed to handle extreme weather events, the doors of the Hagglunds close tight like a snug glove to seal out water and snow.
The Hagglunds’ top speed is 35 mph, which allows for travel on highways and quicker access to places than a traditional all-terrain vehicle could reach, which only tops out at 15 mph. The increased power serves a particular benefit in deep snow, where the vehicle can keep up a respectable speed without getting stuck in loose, sugary snow.
“It’s pretty amazing where they’ll go,” Rubis said.
Lending A Hand
Last year’s harsh winter led to many utility workers becoming stranded in remote locations. Tracked Outdoors used its personal fleet to help make a number of rescues.
“It’s something we didn’t really plan on, but we’re kind of gearing up for that,” Rubis said.
In one instance, they rescued stranded workers from a uranium mine while also hauling in a fresh batch of workers for their shift. In another instance, they rescued two power line workers who had been stuck about 70 miles outside of Casper for six hours in minus 20 weather with no heat.
“It makes you feel good,” Rubis said. “We literally did probably save a couple lives last year.”
They also recently donated a Hagglund to Natrona County Search and Rescue and back up the organization when necessary on missions, such as a recent effort to access a plane crash.
They plan to run a vehicle in the Casper Christmas Parade this year, from which they will serve hot drinks out of the back.
“That’s just kind of what we do,” Rubis said.
For the most part, the Hagglunds Tracked Outdoors refurbishes are meant for winter use, but also can be used in summer with rubber tracks.
“That was a whole design, just load up people and get going,” Rubis said.
They also sell Fat Trucks, a boxy looking industrial off-road vehicle with huge, balloon-like tires meant for summertime travel over dirt and mud.
Rubis said these vehicles are popular in Canada, where they can fly through tundra and marsh.
“They are a neat unit, but they’re $140,000 to $200,000, so you got to have a real purpose to buy one,” he said.
After starting a fabrication business in 2000 that was eventually bought out, Rubis kept the original industrial style building and eventually added on to it, which serves as the headquarters for Tracked Outdoors today.
What started out as a hobby refurbishing Hagglunds has become something much more.
Rubis said it took two years to figure out the best research and development approach for the company, but by 2018, Tracked Outdoors had morphed into a year-round, full-time business with eight employees.
Leo Wolfson can be reached at Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com.