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By: Robert Janis

A Tradition Continues

Longevity is not just a word, it is part of the DNA of Recreatives Industries. Based in Buffalo, New York, it is one of the first manufacturers of amphibious ATVs in the country, if not the world.

The company was founded in 1969 and produced its first amphibious ATV in March, 1970. According to current company president Jay Wallach, that first machine was a two-passenger, two-cycle model.

The late 1960s and ‘70s were the days of the behemoth 6x6 and 8x8 AATVs. According to Wallach, there were about 70 companies that manufactured and sold these machines. Recreatives Industries is just one of two of the original 70 or so companies that has survived through the years.

“There are two reasons why those other companies failed. There was a small recession and the market was smaller than anticipated,” said Wallach. “Almost all the vehicles were junk because of the absence of a good steering transmission. The new Max (manufactured by Recreatives) used the T20 skid steer transmission developed by the Warner Gear Division of Borg-Warner, and it was the only transmission that worked. It is still being used today by Recreatives who also manufactures it.”

The T20 skid steer transmission offers full time, non-differential, six-wheel drive. It offers full time drive to all wheels regardless of the surface traction on each wheel. There is no uncontrolled transfer of power from the right to the left and no torque loss when steering.

Back in the day, AATVs were the only ATVs around. They were used as utility vehicles, but there were also racing associations that sanctioned AATV races. "Today AATVs are used by hunters and other recreationists as well as mining companies, industry, and the military," said Wallach.

Currently Recreatives Industries offer three basic models--a two-passenger, a four-passenger, and a dump truck. "There are four or five different engine options," said Wallach. The company’s best selling model is the four-passenger Max IV-950. This particular machine features a 27 horsepower Kawasaki liquid-cooled engine. It also has a full line of accessories including windshields, roll bars, tops, plows, tracks, winches and other equipment.

Every Max AATV can be fitted with an optional rubber track kit so that the unit can drive over several feet of powder snow or mud flats. Load capacity ranges from 600 to 1000 pounds and all units can tow up to 1000 pounds of dead weight. Most models have built-in cargo carrying areas. All models include electric start, reverse gear, headlights and taillights, a 5-gallon fuel tank, and the Borg-Warner designed T-20 skid steer transmission. Color choices include brown, green, and forest camouflage.

Max is sold in all 50 states and in many foreign countries including Japan, India and countries in Europe, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. The company currently has 30 distributors around the world and 125 dealers in the United States. “Dealers range from those selling out of their garage to those selling in large establishments,” said Wallach. “We have set no criteria concerning who can or cannot be a Recreatives Industries’ dealer.”

The company supports its dealers with national advertising and supplies dealers with a large number of leads. Dealers can do business with almost no inventory because of quick delivery time of the units. Vehicles are shipped fully assembled and dealers get an exclusive territory. A dealer can order just two Max AATVs to lock in an exclusive territory and become an official representative. There are no franchise fees, and no parts requirements and you can re-order vehicles as needed.

The company’s website offers information on all of its products. There is a dealer locator to help customers find a dealer in their area, and there is a gallery section and video section that shows the Max AATVs in action.

“The AATV market is a niche market and will probably remain so,” said Wallach.

And, although AATVs were raced in the past, they are no longer being raced. “Racing of AATVs stopped probably with the end of the use of the two-cycle motors and getting beaten by three wheelers with lots of suspension,” concluded Wallach.

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