photo by Kim Cameron
The crew at Alpine Motor Sports and VOHK Performance at the new location in Kremmling. (Back L to R) Vicente Villalobos, Tim Fleming, Ivan Graves, Luke Stovner, Shane Stieve (Front L to R) Jason Reese, Caleb Hakes, Cole Vasold, Cassie Woog and Erik Woog
A local success story – Putting Kremmling on the map
Alpine Motor Sports moved to its new location on Highway 9 earlier in August, and after renovations, the former location of Tri-River Ace, fits AMS perfectly. The space was transformed into a showroom complete with dressing rooms, parts storage, personalized office space and an ample work area for repairs and the VOHK performance line.
In 1987, Erik Woog the master mind behind AMS, began moonlighting repair work, while working his fulltime meat cutting job. This ultimately led to the acquisition of Alpine’s former location, an old grocery store known as the Family Market. Though his passion was for motorsports, the first business to officially open in 1990 was Alpine Wild Game Processing, which continued to subsidize Alpine Motor Sports for years to follow.
“The first years were tough, I did repairs on almost anything from vacuum cleaners to VCR’s, and often cut meat until 3am, 7 days a week” said Woog who saw LP (Louisiana Pacific) wood plant close and survived the lean years of the 2008 recession.
“Even through the late nights cutting meat, it was never a question whether or not I would make it, I knew this is what I was meant to do.”
Woog’s determination and tenacity continued to pay-off for him, in a time when marketing was done mainly by word of mouth. Woog was a high level racer in the late 80’s and early 90’s, holding state championships in enduro, hill climb, and trials. These disciplines continued to push him and his equipment further and faster. The need for modifications to his equipment was obvious. With limited formal training, and through trial and error (emphasis on error), he made many alterations and was fortunate enough to be mentored by two Kremmling individuals whom Woog refers to as local heroes.
“Larry and Darryl Jones were mentors to me. More than they will ever know,” said Woog. Larry and Darryl worked and fiercely competed in the snowmobile industry years prior. They graciously shared their knowledge of gearing, clutching and many other technical aspects with Woog. Later, Woog would use some of the same gearing principles taught to him by Larry at the International Snowmobile Conference as a featured speaker in 2014.
These lessons impacted the course of Woog’s business as he gained attention for his modifications and sparked the interest of top-athletes in racing. “The relationships I fostered with the athletes were symbiotic – the right builder, with the right equipment, with the right rider.”
This winning combination and Woog’s passion for the sport, gained him even more recognition and drew customers from across the nation and internationally.
Woog supported multiple athletes in the X games during the early 2000’s further raising awareness of this small mountain town builder. A major highlight for Woog is his partnership with then little known snowmobile athlete Chris Burandt. Woog explains he met Burandt when they were both snowmobiling in a heavily wooded secluded spot in deep snow. Their meeting seemed to be destiny, as they had literally found common ground. Flash forward to the X games in 2007, when Burandt won the Snowmobile Freestyle gold medal.
“It was the pinnacle of support as he ‘high-fived me’ in his ESPN interview,” said Woog of the defining moment when Burandt gave a heart felt thank you to his sled builder VOHK (as Erik is known) for making his sled “do that” as he pointed to the jumbo-tron showing his 120 foot backflip during his televised interview.
VOHK Performance is the development arm of AMS for snowmobiles. VOHK, the phonetic pronunciation of Woog in German, was the vision of Woog and is the innovative piece that designs, modifies and manufactures new snowmobiling technology. VOHK has its own exclusive line of parts, and is the reason back country athletes migrate to AMS.
Customers at AMS/VOHK can expect personalized service that begins with a consultation and questions that range from expectations of the machine, need for power and nimbleness, the use demand, what terrain it will be used on and the altitude, the budget, the fit, the motor package, the suspension, and more.
“The end result of this consultation is the customers get what they want. Even if they just buy a stock snowmobile there is still a myriad of adjustments to personalize the machine to its rider,” emphasizes Woog.
He explains that a family may have very different needs – a son may be jumping 200 feet and the father is riding around the ranch shooting coyotes. What they are asking their machines to do is very different and takes into effect how the machine calibrations differ to meet their specific needs.
“We take into account how you ride the snowmobile,” explained Woog. AMS also focuses on ergonomic changes such as seat heights and handle bar settings for physical differences.
After the initial consultation, Woog holds a class for his clients on Fridays and Saturdays to teach them about their builds, including maintenance and care of their machine and then the final step is being able to test drive their purchase with Woog in the backcountry.
“During the ride, we fine tune the calibration and make sure it is the perfect fit.”
Woog’s passion for his machinery (he has confessed a love of dirtbikes, snowmobiles and snowbikes) and his ability to ride them well truly distinguishes him as more than just a builder, it creates consumer trust and confidence. A quick Google search of VOHK, reveals Woog is an athlete in his own right, and is often featured in industry videos such as the popular Boondockers series as a rider.
Throughout the whole purchase, the customer is given individual attention and Woog often develops deep friendships with his customers. A natural camaraderie defines the atmosphere at AMS as Woog visits with returning customers and local snowmobiling talent, which Kremmling has a lot of according to Woog.
Alpine Motor Sports/VOHK Performance employs 10 full time individuals, some of whom have been recruited locally. Woog is able to attract other dedicated employees from across the states who relocate to Kremmling for a chance to work at AMS/VOHK, and his wife, Cassie, who Woog says “is the glue that keeps us together” acts as bookkeeper and much more as she keeps up with the increasing paper work related to titling, registrations and regulations.
“We have amazing employees with a genuine passion for the industry, who hustle, and have a great attitude,” Woog said of his employees, some who have been with AMS for over 15 years.
He adds, “We have created a family of people who genuinely care about each other and pray together.”
Woog said his experiences over the last 27 years “may have beat him up a little, but has certainly knocked off the rough edges.” He admits he sacrificed a lot over the years and worked harder and longer than he ever thought he would. He credits a key turning point in his success, “when he gave it all to the Lord for His glory and submitted to the Holy Spirit.”
He also credits lessons he learned from his stepfather, Dick Herrema. Herrema was a local Kremmling banker and judge, and taught the importance of controlling expenses and returns on long-term investments.
“I tend to be ultra-conservative and held back some, I didn’t always take growth opportunities, but I am where I should be,” Woog reflects and looks to the future which promises more growth for AMS, “We are looking forward to adding and expanding product lines.”
Woog’s dealership already features Arctic Cat, Polaris, Gas Gas, Skinz Accessories, and the Klim clothing line, and Woog is proud of the influence that AMS and VOHK Performance has had on the design and development of many of these products.
Woog would like to thank the community for all the years of support, and is proud to represent Kremmling as a premier business.
For more information about AMS and VOHK Performance visit alpinemortorsportsinc.com or call 970-724-9655 or visit their new location at 720 Tyler Avenue.