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Posts Tagged ‘105th Anniversary’

Santa wasn’t good to the motorcycle industry in 2009.  A weak economy, company layoffs, a housing melt-down, credit freeze, higher manufacturing costs and an ever discriminating consumer to boot.  As Harley-Davidson executives ponder over what happen this year, I can’t help but believe there are some major things on their wish lists to Santa.  So I’ve taken a scientific (parody alert!) guess of what some of H-D’s top executives want for Christmas:

Keith Wandell, CEO, Harley-Davidson: I got the head honcho job with the industry’s most iconic motorcycle manufacture in history, that has a cult-like following, with vendors tripping all over themselves to copy what we’ve done and I didn’t even have a motorcycle endorsement. I can’t think of anything more to ask for.  Oh wait, all those government stimulus funds – listen up Santa, I’ve been to the White House twice for dinner.  Have I not been nice enough?  Please let the spinner land on my project.

Mark-Hans Richer, Sr. VP & Chief Marketing Officer:  What the ho?  Please, Santa send us Tiger Woods!  As the leader of the world’s foremost authority on brand marketing, our team of cutting edge hoo-ha marketers developed a new strategy with Tiger as the spokesperson!  It’s set to appeal to the outlaw in every man.  We plan to dump that “ludicrous” campaign in favor of “Night of the Tiger”…complete with an exclusive Elin ghost flame paint scheme…

Bill Davidson, VP Core Customer Marketing: Please Santa let 2010 be the year for H-D in professional motorcycle racing.  Nothing but wins – in the dirt or drag or NHRA Pro – whatever it says on my t-shirt. Wait, can you also help people forget about that botched firing of Anne Paluso.  Really our plan is to go racing – go “team scream” or something like that.

John Olin, CFO: Motorcycle sales!  Santa it’s not my fault.  Please let me milk this “new in my job” for just a while longer.  What do they expect?  Miracles on Juneau Avenue!  Doesn’t it matter that I’ve been here less time than Keith?  I do have a motorcycle endorsement.  And, my calculator is newer than Lawrence’s!

Matthew Levatich, President & COO: Santa please get the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to approve and recognize my heroic role in getting the special license plate commemorating Harley-Davidson through the political red-tape as the state’s official motorcycle.   Yep, 2010 is shaping up to be a good performance review!  Memo to Enrico… get the bottle of Chianti ready!

Lawrence Hund, President & COO of H-D Finance: A new platinum edition HP 12C calculator.  The minus button on my last one quit working.

Gail Lione, EVP & General Counsel: Santa please tell us who is behind that NWHOG?!  Send us that macrant email address.  We have an important legal document gift we wish to serve send over to Northwest Harley Blog.

Paul James, Harley-Davidson Company Spokesperson: Please let me graduate the training class called “If the dream is big enough, the facts don’t matter” — a.k.a. the Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf school of bubbling optimism to distract the media and bloggers with superfluous BS so they ignore our fundamental problems.

James McCaslin, EVP Corporate Product Planning:  Santa can you get me a copy of Keith’s industry information?  I’ve never heard of “vendors tripping all over themselves to copy what we’ve done?”  I do remember a blogger at the 105th Anniversary trying to take a photo of a plant tour and we ran his butt right out the building before he was able to take pictures of the lunch room.

Karl Eberle, Sr. VP Manufacturing: Please make Indian go away. We are tired of being embarrassed in our own back yard when it comes to American cruisers and we don’t want that company bragging about their superior performance anymore.

Enrico D’Onofrio, Managing Director – MV Augusta: I already got what I wanted. Thanks for the early Christmas present H-D!  That sale notification surprised Wall Street… as you say in your home land… my golden shute is priceless. All this talk about motorcycles when the grape reigns supreme here in the zone of Tuscany… please pass the Chianti.

Jon R. Flickinger, President & COO of Buell: A job!  Also could you unload some of those dusty Buell’s in the warehouse?  My exit bonus is on the line.

Thanks for your readership during this past year. You may not have agreed with what I had to say at times, but it made for some lively discussions nevertheless. Merry Christmas, happy holidays and best wishes to you in 2010.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

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Schweitzer Summit

Schweitzer Summit

I hadn’t been hiking on Schweitzer since 1979.  Not much has changed.  That’s how it is with the physical world.  It outlasts all of us.  We’re just a blip in time.  Sure we think we’re forever, but despite all the hosannas, even Michael Jackson’s music will soon be forgotten.  It’s not human nature…we’re talking Mother Nature!

Last August in route to the Harley-Davidson 105th Anniversary celebration I posted about the posse travels and stop in Sandpoint, Idaho which is home to Schweitzer.   And again over this past July 4th holiday weekend I found myself disconnected from everything deemed important and traveling the “long-bridge” across Lake Pend Oreille (pronounced: ‘pond –oh– ray’)… the largest natural lake in Idaho.  The lake is 65 miles long and over 1100 feet deep in some areas which explains why the Navy continues to perform underwater acoustic testing at an old WWII base.

LibertySchweitzer mountain is an amusement park of the mind.  Rather than going on rides, being turned upside down by some mechanical contraption, you look at the Selkirk Mountain landscape and your mind does somersaults.  How did this happen?  It’s hard to imagine a glacier which was part of the continental ice sheet forming a lake over 800 feet deep as far away as Missoula, Montana.   Now it’s only a “small” remnant of all that glacial action.

One evening relaxing from a mountain hike I happen onto HBO and watched the Nicholas Stoller movie, “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” starring Jason Segel and Kristen Bell.  It’s a comic look at one guy’s herculean task to deal with and get over a recent break-up.  Overall the movie was better than I first thought and afterward’s I caught the local news who were in an uproar over Sarah Palin’s resignation.  Palin was born in Sandpoint, and her father, Charles R. Heath, was a science teacher and track coach. I attended school where Charles taught after my father pulled orders for a tour in Vietnam and we relocated closer to relatives. Even though the Palin family moved to Alaska when she was an infant many in the area have a source of pride in her connection to the city.

Lake Pend Oreille

Lake Pend Oreille

I couldn’t help but connect the dots between the movie and how the resignation were seemingly intertwined.  Palin was like the ex-girlfriend they’re SO over, never want to see again, have already forgotten about – really it’s OVER – but they can’t stop talking about her.  Whatever you think of Palin, her argument for resigning seemed logical and the only “incoherent rambling” was coming from the obsessively focused media who couldn’t stop talking about her resignation and her potential TV show…yep, they are SO over her!  I half expect to see Keith Obermann (MSNBC) crying because he has no one to help drive up his viewer numbers.

Instead most folks that I visited were asking: Have you seen all the Michael Jackson coverage on TV?  Or speaking of resignations, how’s work going?  And what’s going on with all the IED troop casualties in Afghanistan?  It was a hysteria filled July 4th news cycle, but I’m thinking everyone needs to take a moment of pause, get some wind in the face, hike a mountain summit and enjoy becoming placed in natural perspective.

Photos taken at Sandpoint and Schweitzer Summit.

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Luke Christe

Luke Christe

I wanted to give a shout-out to the top northwest Harley dealers (and individuals) who helped raise significant funds for MDA

MDA is a voluntary health agency working to defeat muscular dystrophy and related diseases through programs of worldwide research, comprehensive patient and community services and public health education.  Harley-Davidson is a national sponsor and the top northwest dealers are:

$25,000 or more

Skagit Harley-Davidson Burlington, WA

$50,000 or more

Latus Motors Harley-Davidson Gladstone, OR

Downtown Harley-Davidson Tukwila, WA

Shumate Harley-Davidson Spokane, WA

At the 105th Anniversary Celebration there were a number of activities which raised awareness and funds to support this cause.  The pledges really added up and with 77.4 percent of every dollar MDA spends going directly to research, services and education, the rest to fund raising and administration it’s putting the $$ to good work.  If you missed out and wanted to donate you can do so HERE.

Photo courtesy HD and Peter Reitzfeld

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Harley-Davidson Survey

Harley-Davidson Survey

The first principle of creating a good survey is FOCUS.  By having specific objectives ahead of time you can expect to obtain usable information from a survey.  Those objectives drive the questions and every question will in fact tie back to the specific objective.

Disguised as a survey I was solicited by Harley-Davidson’s “research team” for feedback on the 105th Anniversary event.

Cool.  I figured they want to connect with their customers and engage in a dialogue to further connect the customer base with the motor company. 

Typical Survey Question

Typical Survey Question

And so you know…in full disclosure here…I don’t have a master’s degree in applied mathematics or a Ph.D. in statistics, but after six questions into the survey I realized -HEY- their jacking me around and vetting my responses (the customer) into potential sales leads.  It’s NOT really about encouraging feedback on the 105th event (well a little) or how to improve Harley motorcycles. 

Here are a few examples of the survey questions for you to make up your own determination:

  1. How likely is it that you will purchase a motorcycle for your own use in the next 12 months?
  2. How long from now do you plan to purchase a motorcycle?
  3. If you were purchasing a motorcycle today, which makes/brands would you seriously consider purchasing?
  4. And, which make/brand would you most likely purchase?  (Multi-choice: BMW, Honda, Yamaha etc.)
  5. Before taking this survey, were you aware that Harley-Davidson produces “anniversary edition” model motorcycles (e.g., 100th Anniversary, 105th Anniversary)?
  6. How interested are you in purchasing “anniversary edition” motorcycles (e.g., 100th Anniversary, 105th Anniversary)?
  7. How likely would you be to attend another Anniversary Celebration in the future?
  8. Which of these 105th Anniversary events/activities did you attend or participate in?
  9. Please rate each of these 105th Anniversary Celebration events or activities.
  10. How much do you agree that the 105th Anniversary … a). Has sped up my plans to buy a new H-D motorcycle? b). Has helped me decide which H-D I’ll buy next? c). Made me feel closer than ever to Harley-Davidson?
  11. What impact, if any, did attending the 105th Anniversary celebration have on your feelings about each of these co-sponsors? (Ford, Shell, etc.,)
  12. What was the best event and why that did you attend?
  13. What needs to be improved for next time?
  14. Which previous Harley-Davidson anniversary events did you attend? (Choose 90; 95th; 100th)
  15. How far did you travel from home to get to the 105th Anniversary in Milwaukee?
  16. Which best describes your accommodations/lodging while attending the 105th Anniversary?

I counted 7 of 16 questions probing on my purchase intent!  I would think in today’s somewhat depressed economic and highly competitive climate, it’s more important than ever to understand your customer and their needs.  Clearly this survey is about parsing 105th attendees into potential buyers. They are splitting us into “buy now” vs. “buy later” camps. And the buy later group means spend NO more time or $$ to acquire this customer. It’s all about the sales ABC’s…

Survey photo’s courtesy of HD Research web site.

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Miller Brewery

Miller Brewery

The main set of 105th Celebration events are over – now what?  First off a shout-out to Harley.  They know how to throw a party and no one serves as a better host than the people of Milwaukee.  To put on an event of the 105th  size, takes commitment, organization, time, resources and of course, a great product so thank you Harley-Davidson!

It’s Sunday, August 31st, our final day in Milwaukee and it left us thinking about what we neglected to do.  It seemed the only items we opted out of besides the parade was a cheese tour (I had cheese on the way out..) and donating to the Wisconsin Red Cross Blood Drive!  It’s unlikely they would want our blood.

Miller Operations

Miller Operations

Instead we set the day in motion by heading over to the Miller Brewery.  We heard about free samples and knew it was going to hit the mid-80’s again.  To say the Milwaukee weather cooperated for the 105th Anniversary celebration is an understatement.  It was down right awesome.  A bit warm and humid for those of us from the Northwest, but better than we could have hoped for.

Plank Road

Plank Road

We brought our love of beer and stopped at the Brewery tour! We watched the 10 minute video and walked up and down the 4 blocks of the tour.  By the time we hit the Brew Kettle’s I think the gal was just hoping we’d go directly to the R&R area.  It’s an interesting time in the brewery biz.  Anheuser-Busch recently merged with Belgian-Brazilian brewing company InBev for $46B…yes that’s BILLION.   And back in 2002 South Africa Breweries bought Miller Brewing Company and called it SABMiller.  Then in 2005 Coors merges with Molson and then this year SABMiller and Molson Coors entered into a joint venture to form MillerCoors. 

Miller Brewery Girls

Miller Brewery Girls

A long way from the days of when Frederick J. Miller brought his passion for beer to the U.S. and settled in Milwaukee in 1855 where he bought the Plank Road Brewery.

Like all the people we met in Milwaukee it was no exception to find interesting and nice folks at the brewery too.  We sat for a good while and enjoyed our refreshments then said good-bye to the Miller High Life!

On a whim we decided to try a Harley-Davidson Museum drive by.  None of us received tickets to the museum as part of the lottery system, but we thought at least we could hang out on the grounds or if lucky score an open back door. 

HD Museum

HD Museum

The museum is located near downtown and is set on 20 acres of land which is surrounded on three sides of the Menomonee River.  It looks like a part of town that is getting ready for urban expansion and HD will be one of the major tenants of the renovation.

We parked the bikes and did a little fact-finding only to be rewarded with tickets to enter the museum.  Scored!

The museum truly should be on any Harley-Davidson motorcycle owners list of things to see and absorb.  The museum’s steel and glass exterior has an urban elegance and almost seems out of place in this area of town. 

HD Wall of Tanks

HD Wall of Tanks

The exhibits are unique and the stories of those who lived the HD life are remarkable.  From the recreation of the 1920’s board track, to serial number one of the first HD built in 1903 to the “King of Rock”, Elvis Presley’s 1956 KH motorcycle to the extensive and rare collection of vintage advertising and riding gear to the replica of Easy Rider.  Something for everyone.  The “tank wall” is a photographers dream come true! 

All of this only a couple blocks away from the luxury boutique hotel aptly named the Iron Horse Hotel.

In my mind there are two kinds of people in this world:  Those who ride Harley-Davidsons and those who wish they did. That’s not a slam on other motorcycles just a viewpoint after meeting and talking to numerous people on our two-wheelin’ journey “home”.  

Jumped on a plane Monday morning, I take a moment to reflect.  The Ride Home and 2576 enjoyable miles later along with an awesome multi-day music celebration comes to a close…110th anyone?!

Interested to know more about our “Ride Home”?  Read the road blogs for: Day 1 HERE, Day 2 HERE, Day 3 HERE, Day 4 HERE and Day 5 HERE.

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HD 105th Parade

HD 105th Parade

This is our 3rd day in Milwaukee and it has me in a bit of a head spin and this isn’t my first biker event!

There’s so much to see and do that even the best laid plans get changed or thrown away. To top it off, there are so many people and the venues are so crowded that you’ve got to be willing to take a step back and make alternative plans. Picture (right) is Vietnam Vet Ray Jordan of Salem, OR who decked his 2003 Road King with 105 American Flags for the 105th Anniversary.

We gave some thought to either riding in the Harley parade or sitting on the sideline doing a bit of people watching, but after hearing stories that it was going to take about 5 hours to do the 4 mile route we thought better of that idea.  With over 40,000 hotel rooms booked and 150,000 people in the area the last thing we wanted to do was “melt” in the 90 degree heat while trying to keep our bikes running so we opted out.  I found this cool parade slide show put on by MKEimages.  It was estimated that more than 7500 bikes participated in the parade. 

State Fair Park

State Fair Park

Instead we started the day in line at the State Fair Park waiting to ride the 2009 Harley demo motorcycles.  After looking at the SE “pumpkin orange” Glide the previous day I wanted to get some time in the seat to try it out.  I’m not a fairing guy, but have always been curious about that fixed fairing on the bike and I really wanted to feel the power of 110 cu in!

On our walk into the fairgrounds there was a gal putting a sticker on her bike which caught our attention.  It’s unusual to see people putting stickers on their bike fenders and this gal was dressed like few others. After some discussion about our ride out from OR and her interest in relocating to Seattle along with her “unique” profession at the Mad Planet…she gave us her card which provided a link to her website.  Miss Nix turns out to run a fetish fashion show for the dominatrix crowd which features bed of nails torture and whip cracking.  At 10AM and only one cup of coffee under the belt it was a bit much to absorb, but we tried…

At any rate, we made our way to the Rider check-in and it was easy enough.  The $5 shell card and discount coupon at any Harley dealer was a nice bonus.  It was rather odd that Harley forced the no helmet, no ride rule in a state that doesn’t require it, but we complied.  After check-in we waited in the touring line which took another 45min to finally get onto the bikes.  During the entire wait I was thinking this is taking forever for little 10 minute demo ride around the State Fair park, but it turns out the demo rides were 20-25 minutes long and included a combination of city and Interstate driving giving everyone a chance to try out the handling and performance of the motorcycles. 

2009 SE RoadGlide

2009 SE RoadGlide

Love it or hate it, the frame-mounted fairing is the center of what makes this touring model a pleasure to ride mile after mile. Unlike the popular batwing fairing found on the Street or Electra Glide models, the Road Glide’s fairing is attached to the bike’s frame rather than the front fork, much like the design found on many sport and racing motorcycles. It provides greater stability and less rider fatigue at highway speeds, especially in crosswind situations.

Roadhouse at the Lakefront

Roadhouse at the Lakefront

The route took me out S 76th Street then right on W. National Ave then after a couple miles I was routed onto I-894.  The demo ride team had the route well marked with orange arrows which was excellent since I’m not a Milwaukee native and the roads can be confusing.  After a couple of exits the tour route put me back onto city streets where I looped around to the Fair ground.  When entering the on ramp I throttled up in 2nd and 3rd gears and the bike quickly hit 80MPH in just a few seconds.  Fast!  There was little exhaust note from the stock pipes, but I could hear the intake groan for more air.  Very fast for a stock bike. 

I returned approx 25 minutes later to hear the Harley rep ask me if I had a problem with the bike.  I said no it’s a terrific bike, why?  He then went on a rant… “Dude, you’ve been gone over an hour…did you stop for gas?”  I had a stare down with the guy, but I was gone less than 25min and told him he wrote the departure time down incorrectly or something, but he was in error.  After a few tense moments he backed down especially after I told him the bike I left with came in at the same time in the standard time frame.  Other than the accusation it was an awesome demo ride and wanted to provide a shout-out to the Harley team for providing the motorcycles to ride.

Santiago, Eastwood, Mac

Santiago, Eastwood, Mac

We all departed the demo rides with smiles on our faces and headed off to a local Mexican restaurant for lunch and re-cap our riding experiences.  By mid-afternoon we were looking for some relief from the heat and humidity.  It was in the mid-90 degrees and we headed to a Harley dealer to pick up some refreshments. 

Around 6PM we headed downtown to Veterans Park and the Roadhouse at the Lakefront venue for the Bruce Springsteen concert.  The lawn seating opened at 5pm so we thought a couple hours prior to the concert and we’d have a good view.  We thought wrong!  By the time we hit Lincoln Memorial drive we knew there was going to be issues.  Super long lines of bikes park on all sides of the road including many who navigated the middle divide curb to park on the street. After a long while and several heat related stalls on the Road King we finally found a few bike slots to park.  We made the long walk back to the entrance and were shocked at the crowds who were all ready posted up waiting. 

Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen

We made our way into the middle and moved forward, but it looked like we were still 2-3 city blocks away from the stage.  Springsteen was ending his World Tour, but you would have never known it was the end.  He played more than 30 songs which lasted over 3.5 hours.  Incredible concert!  About mid-way through we move much closer to the stage and got a lot better view of the concert.  He didn’t play “Born in the U.S.A.” or his “Devils to Dust” anti-war ballad about Iraq.  However, he did make several comments about things that are basically at the heart of being un-American.

It was after 12:30AM and we headed out of the city via the East Side which looked like and had a feel of just arriving in a “hood”.  Arriving back at the hotel in the early morning it was clear that the 105th Anniversary celebration was an incredible success which was topped off by the Springsteen concert.

It was a breath of fresh air riding out to this event.  The celebration was awesome and was put on by a great company.  Most important was the great city and all the Milwaukeeans who welcomed us riders with open arms. 

Interested to know more about our “Ride Home”?  Read the road blogs for: Day 1 HERE, Day 2 HERE, Day 3 HERE, Day 4 HERE and Day 5 HERE.

Flags on motorcycle photo courtesy of MKEimages.com and the 105th Anniversary parade.  The motorcycle belongs to Vietnam Vet Ray Jordan of Salem, OR who decked his 2003 Road King with 105 American Flags for the 105th Anniversary. 

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HD Big Twin Operations

HD Big Twin Operations

On our 2nd day in Milwaukee (Friday, Aug 29th) and the F-U-N continues in this largely two-wheelin’ town.

We headed out first thing to visit the Pilgrim Road Powertrain operations which is home of the “Big Twin“.  They produce the Touring, Softail and Dyna engines and transmissions for the final assembly plant in York, Pennsylvania and Kansas City, MO.  The plant sits on 63 acres and has 849,000 square feet.

At the entrance of the building they reminded all of us about the rules to make it a safe experience then over emphasized the NO CAMERA rule including cell phones.  I took that to mean it was a “guideline” and managed to wiggle through the line before a Harley security guard could perform a body search. 

Pilgrim Operations

Pilgrim Operations

We started the tour in reverse order of how the parts are cast and made.  The first area we walked through had a lot of new robotics and assembly area yet to be brought on line.  I repeatedly ask Harley employees during the plant tour about the status of water-cooled powertrains and when they are set to come off the line.  I was greeted with lots of smiles and laughs…but, one tactic which seemed to get a little more information was playing one employee off another…I told a employee, let’s call him Bob, that another employee, let’s call him Stu who we chatted with earlier in the tour,  requested that we ask Bob about the water cooled status. 

Clearly they had all been briefed about giving away company plans, but we did learn that water cooled powertrains is definitely in their thinking (with-in two years!) and that the engine heads were “most likely” to be the first part of the engine to get the water treatment.  Not so much because of heat, but because of EPA noise emission issues and meeting more stringent standards.  Overall the employees we chatted with were very friendly, seem to enjoy mixing it up with the public and they clearly had a sense of pride in what they were making.  I was most impressed with the employees and want to provide a shout out to the USW Local 2-209 and IAM Lodge 78.

After the factory tour we rode down to Summerfest on the Lakefront.  Billed as the “world’s largest music festival” it delivers an incredible live music experience.  There was talent on 11 different stages along with a broad range of food and interactive exhibits.  On the exhibit front I recall a lady presenting something about the need to stay physically fit for best motorcycle riding experience and shared techniques on how to keep your body more fit before, during and after riding.  Interesting bit about the “during” your ride and stretching. 

Knucklefest Bull Riding

Knucklefest Bull Riding

We stopped by the Harley tent and looked over the new ’09 rides.  The “Pumpkin” colored SE RoadGlide had a bunch of CVO brochures in the saddlebag so I scored one as the dealers rarely have or give these out.  After seeing the new bikes we decided it would be good to stop in at the demo area at the State Park/Fair before leaving Milwaukee.  By this time the temperature was in the high 80’s and we seemed to always be looking for a shaded location to enjoy some refreshments. 

We heard from some other riders talking about an event called Knucklefest and decided to take in some more local culture.  Located on the Kettle Moraine Ranch, the ranch lies in the heart of the Kettle Moraine National Forest and features some unique landscape. We rode scenic back roads that intertwine though charming small towns. 

Hals HD

Hals HD

If you head out on this ride you might consider stopping at the Knucklehead Pub & Grub which is located in Eagle on the corner of Hwy 59 and 67. 

We arrived at the site of Knucklefest and realize that it is one of the area’s best kept secrets.  We hung around for the mechanical bull and wet t-shirt contests then headed back toward Milwaukee.

We stopped at Hal’s HD to watch the “Burn Out” fun and then we called it a day after 10+ hours in the heat.
 

Interested to know more about our “Ride Home”?  Read the road blogs for: Day 1 HERE, Day 2 HERE, Day 3 HERE, Day 4 HERE and Day 5 HERE.

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