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The fred gates brandy bottle classic 1960-1961

Fred V. Gates, Sr., owned a marine business in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, but he didn't sell many boats when the snows hit and the lakes froze over. When he first heard about a thing called a "Sno-Traveler," he was intrigued with the idea of being able to sell an over-the-snow vehicle. It would be a good item to fill in the non-boating season.

He called Edgar and Allan Hetteen, he said, but couldn't get machines. The Hetteens suggested Fred call Tom Halvorson, the Bombardier equipment distributor in Duluth, Minnesota.

In the fall of 1960, three new Bombardier Ski-Doo snowmobiles arrived in Rhinelander and Fred Gates was in business.

"You couldn't give 'em away," he reflected. "Everyone laughed at me. They said I was nuts. I took machines around to ski slopes, giving people free rides. Finally, Alex Sharka, a guy in town here, bought one. Then I sold a couple more."

Herman Lassig was one of Gates' first customers.

"Fred came out and demonstrated one at my place," Lassig said. "I have this big bog. Fred drove the thing around, went over the bog, through the brush. I was impressed and I had a couple bucks I didn't know what to do with. . . ."

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the fred gates brandi bottle classic


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