Polaris is coming to Portree…no, not the former nuclear missile system but the ATV and quad-bike brand. This is the latest innovation for Jan's, the vehicle-hire, D-I-Y to storage company based in Portree's main industrial estate.
Jan's is becoming the local agent for Polaris, a US-based company established more than 60 years ago which built its initial success on the invention of the snowmobile and has now got a well-established market in the ATV (all-terrain vehicle) sector and also for producing quad bikes.
Jan's will cover the Isle of Skye, the west coast of the Highlands and the Outer Hebrides, which have previously been without a local service base, the nearest being in Dingwall.
Business founder John 'Jan' Nicolson has been involved in the negotiations which led to this link-up. He points out that safety is now a major issue with the use of such vehicles by both farmers and crofters and that Polaris have a range of vehicles, design features and fitments which are intended to give greater protection to users.
Next Spring, the company are getting together with Polaris to hold a major exhibition related to agricultural safety at Jan's separate premises in Crossal. Jan thinks there is a major opportunity to increase the safety of ATV users and reduce the numbers and severity of injuries suffered, particularly neck injuries. The event will give crofters and farmers a chance to test the vehicles and see their capabilities, particularly the improvement in specifications over the last ten years. For instance, there is a hill descent retarding system which reduces the risks when going down steep slopes.
Jan says: "We are very excited about our partnership with Polaris and we see a growing market." The area covered by the dealership also includes a large number of estates which have been users of Polaris products in the past and will cover sales, servicing and spare parts. Jan's will be looking to add another member of staff to their existing service department.