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Archive for April 6th, 2009

jc_t_4002_301Tapping the company that manufactured the electric room thermostat, Johnson Controls Inc. (NYSE:JCI),  Harley-Davidson announced today that Keith E. Wandell will succeed James Ziemer (CEO), who is retiring.  Wandell, 59, currently serves as President and COO of Milwaukee-based Johnson Controls, a $38 billion global company. Wandell is a 21-year veteran of JCI and starts at Harley-Davidson May 1st.

Wandell joined Johnson Controls in 1988 as a plant manager in the Toledo, Ohio battery facility.  He then held positions in the Automotive Experience Group and the Power Solutions business.  He was named president of the Automotive Experience in 2003 which grew to an $18.1B, and 75,000 employee business in FY 2008.

Keith Wandell

Keith Wandell

Johnson Controls has attracted a lot of attention lately as an auto parts supplier and the dire state of the industry/pessimism from wall street.  In February they announced it would shut down 10 factories and slash 4000 jobs.  One would think under Mr. Wandell’s leadership they would be the kind of company that is a major player in green building and sustainability in general.  They are the biggest makers of hybrid car batteries in the U.S. and to their credit they talk a lot about energy efficiency, but the company does not maintain a corporate blog, have Facebook or Twitter “voices” and when it comes to things like LEED certification, green building, and concepts like cradle-to-cradle and carbon emission they are fairly silent.  There is a public facing site which they help maintain on using energy wisely HERE.

Perhaps this is a bright spot in Harley’s history and not a “Shuttin’ Detroit Down” moment for Mr. Wandell.  Time will tell if Wandell can teach an old motorcycle manufacture new tricks.

Photo courtesy JCI.

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helvetia_bwYesterday was an awesome day here in the northwest.  Absolutely a marvel for motorcycle riding in early April with the temperature reaching 70+.  And yes there were motorcyclists everywhere!

As many of you know it’s been a long and rain-filled winter with the last 8 weeks being wet every weekend.  For a data point, during the month of March the ski slopes on Timberline received 103 inches of snow!   So, while the day could have been filled with yard projects and other obligations they would just have to slip out as the rumble of bikes were calling and before the weather changed I would roll on the throttle.

I pulled off the motorcycle cover, rolled up the storage gear and smiled in anticipation of great day.  A quick wipe down of some winter dust that slipped under the cover and the shine returned with eagerness.  I threw a leg over the bike and rolled it out of the garage.  A quick check-down of mechanic specifics then the start button was pressed.   The engine roared to life after a long winter hibernation.

april_rideThe bike lurched forward and mile after mile rolled under my feet.  The warm sun pierced the leather as I headed north for a “destination burger” at Helvetia Tavern.  You’ll recognize the place as the rustic building with a baseball cap collection ceiling and friendly staff.  The “two cows and make them cry” lunch is a bit of trek north, but this was more about enjoying the weather with fellow riders than an  intellectual debate over the ground round.  In my opinion, the Helvetia burger is the closest thing to an In-and-Out burger in northwest.

We departed for quiet towns in Washington County where the two lane roads had very little traffic.  The beauty of the northwest on a sunny day is captivating as our route took us through the wine and fertile fields of the farm valley.  Motorcycle riding can be rejuvenating for the soul as you get lost in the moment.  Fellow bikers know this and how difficult it can be to express with words.

This first multi-hour trip of the year is a promise of great riding for an entire year.

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