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Posts Tagged ‘2010’

You could define a good day when everything goes your way, when nothing can take you out of your motorcycle riding rhythm.  No work and stress or minor irritations are brushed aside because of the euphoric emotions flowing with the wind in your face.

That was the vibe heading into the 2010 Good Vibrations in Salem/Keizer this past weekend.  It had the perfect concoction for a motorcycle rally – deep blue clear skies, mid-70 degree weather, and a solid line up of vendor booths along with some good music mixes.  Arguably the chamber-of-commerce would view it as a successful inaugural motorcycle rally – independent of key indicators – as the city rolled out the red-carpet with the goal of helping the mid-valley economy with tourism dollars.  Our group did a 4-hour drive-by on Saturday as we rolled down and explored the asphalt ribbons of Hwy 219 through the farming valley.  The dust has now settled and the rumble of bikes is all but a memory of the rally so it’s time for some feedback.

1.    Marketing:  Do more advertising, and do it earlier.   Leverage low-cost word of mouth motorcycle clubs disti lists, social media etc., to get the word out.  Even with a blog post, and all the talk about an Oregon motorcycle rally with friends, relatives and business associates the attendance wasn’t contagious.  We arrived at the registration hotel (Keizer Renaissance Inn) along with about 4 other motorcycles to have the receptionist tell us that the event was “SPREAD OUT” all across town and we were not at the ‘hub’ of the event.

2.    Maps: Provide one!  Provide an event map on the web site.  Provide an event map on the pocket flyer.  Make .PDF maps available for e-distribution.  Train the hotel employees on how to answer ‘visitors’ question about what is going on.  Admittedly I’m unfamiliar with the inner Salem/Keizer streets and finding some parts of the rally venue was like an exercise in trying to escape the legislature tax hikes.  It was near impossible.  We looped the bridges on Hwy 22/99E/221 so many times it felt like movie Ground Hog day!

3.    Balanced Police Presence: local police were everywhere (biking, walking, Segways) and the ever visible patrol cars on side roads made the event lose some of the ‘festival’ vibe. If they would have been enforcing the anti-littering laws against all smokers throwing their butts everywhere they’d rake in thousands vs. needing comprehensive street patrols and zero-based-tolerance of straight pipes modified exhausts.

4.    Wine Tour: Do more to dispel the negative perception that motorcyclists are wildly racing through farm country on winery tours – “just sipping”, of course – to the next watering hole.  I received a number of emails and comments that it’s no wonder people don’t take motorcyclists serious if they don’t operate sober and safe.  Need to change the overall messaging.

The impact of tourism in Oregon is powerful.  According to Travel Salem, in Marion and Polk counties tourism employs more than 5,600 people having an estimated economic impact in 2009 of $452M.  While I don’t agree with how everything was implemented at this year’s rally I do want to provide a major shout out to Randy Burke and Road Shows Inc., team for all their hard work in bringing what hopefully is an annual motorcycle event to the state.

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According to news outlets, the animal rights activists group who earlier this year declared “War on Leather” will not be attending the first annual Good Vibrations Motorcycle Rally in Salem/Keizer.

That’s a good thing because the motorcycle rally which happens this coming weekend (July 16 – 18th) in the Salem/Keizer area is expecting hundreds of motorcyclists… some of which will be wearing leather in the form of… shoes, chaps, jackets, coats, gloves, hats and belts!

I blogged previously about this rally back in February HERE.  The rally activities are happening at Salem Harley-Davidson, Oregon State Fairgrounds, Spirit Mountain Casino, and the cities of Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, and McMinnville.  The Good Vibration event is produced by Randy Burke, President of Road Shows Inc., and is modeled after his most popular Street Vibrations Rally held in Reno, NV.  The Oregon rally has the added value of wine tastings at Willamette Valley Vineyards and Orchard Heights Winery along with the fantastic Northwest scenery and winding roads.

Hopefully you get the opportunity to participate in the first annual rally. A portion of the proceeds benefits the Christian Motorcycle Association and the Juvenile Diabetes Association.  Registered participants will receive an official event t-shirt, hog tags and ride pin.  They will also be able to participate in poker runs, get free admission to VIP parties, two ride-in shows, a parade, and live entertainment.  Check out the schedule of events here!

See you there!

Photo courtesy of Road Shows Inc.

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Practicing the piano for 10-years does not make you creative.  It just allows you to replicate what’s been done before.

I’m not sure who coined that phrase, but for some reason I’m reminded of Harley-Davidson and the debut of their 2011 models.

I can neither confirm or deny that I’ve been busy testing a sample of the 2011 H-D motorcycles.  I cannot confirm or deny that I’ve signed a NDA/embargo agreement to not disclose, either in print or talk about what the good folks at Harley-Davidson have been up to until July 27, 2010 – the date that the company will roll out some new thunder.

The plant is filled with journeymen, skilled at their jobs, but the motorcycle models are not famous. Because to be famous you’ve got to make jaws drop, people have to forego crucial financial activities in order to invest in H-D motorcycle ownership, people have to want to tell others about your brand.  In order to succeed you’ve got to innovate.  It requires perspiration and it demands inspiration.  I’m talking about innovating in such a way that a large percentage of the motorcycle riding public cares.

We’re in a era of marketing.  Because it’s so easy.  Go online and tell your story.  Start a Facebook page, upload some stop-action videos and evangelize to the ADHD 20-somthings.  Tweet about anything and everything.  But, isn’t it interesting that as more motorcycle manufactures go online trying to sell, fewer motorcycles are moving…both sales-wise and emotionally.  The key isn’t about putting a motorcycle in front of people.   It’s about creating something so good that it builds its own audience.  It’s an incredible challenge.  To employ a classic art form, include pop references, but come up with something new.  So new that the new thing excites us, that not only makes our blood boil, but makes us want to tell everyone.  So good it gets inside your psyche and affects you…not like the lasting power of a popsicle.

For so long the basic tools have been ignored and Harley-Davidson has taken the easy way out.  It’s been about marketing an image or brand over product innovation and their spot in the firmament is at risk.  They’ve always been good about building relationships, but too much of the H-D model line-up can be denied.  You can play that “tune” for a friend and they just ignored it.

The 2011 models need to tap us on the shoulder lightly and then wrap itself around our heart.  In other words, be so good we can’t ignore you…

Photo courtesy of Deviantart.com

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It’s not a radical idea.  It’s just one day where everyone can agree to ride a motorcycle.

It’s called Ride To Work Day and the annual event is Monday, June 21st.

The Ride to Work Day was inspired by “Work to Ride – Ride to Work‘” marketing materials created between 1989 and 1991 by the Aero Design and Manufacturing Company, a Minnesota based manufacturer of motorcycle riders clothing. In 1992 these items inspired motorcycle magazine editor Fred Rau to write an editorial calling for a national ride to work day.  The first annual Ride to Work Day event was proposed in Road Rider magazine (now titled Motorcycle Consumer News) in the May 1992 issue.

The Ride To Work organization is a non-profit group advocating and supporting the use of motorcycles and scooters for transportation, and providing information about everyday utility riding to the public.

See you on the road…

Photo courtesy of Ride To Work.

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It’s time to forget the finances and focus on the road!

Fortunately Washington and Oregon have partnered up to provide a unique riding opportunity for the 2010 H.O.G. Rally and this is a save-the-date notice.

Motorcyclists now have the opportunity to attend two rallies back-to-back and ride more than 1600 miles on some of the Pacific Northwest best roads.

The Washington State H.O.G. Rally starts in Vancouver, WA and edges its way up the Columbia River Gorge to Yakima and Wenatchee. The rally ride “edges” ever northward along the Columbia River, with a stop at Grand Coulee Dam then on to Spokane. The final day takes motorcyclists down the eastern “edge” of Washington State and into Lewiston, ID, then on to Kennewick for the closing ceremonies.

Then a day later and only a few miles from the end of the Washington Rally starts the Oregon Rally.

Pendleton is the start of Oregon’s Rally and you’ll ride the “edge” of the Cascade Mountain range to an overnight stay in Bend before “edging” along to Crater Lake and then an overnight in Medford. The final day puts motorcyclists on the “edge” of the Pacific Ocean with closing ceremony in Coos Bay.  Below are the dates, links for registering and additional information.

Washington State HOG Rally
August 20 -23, 2010

Oregon State HOG Rally
August 24 -27, 2010

Facebook fans can go to Oregon and Washington fan pages.

And if that wasn’t enough riding and fun… when the H.O.G. rally ends head over to Woodburn, OR. for the All-Harley Drag Races on Saturday, August 28th and Sunday, August 29th

Photo courtesy of H.O.G.

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ZZ Top at Aquarius Amphitheater - 2007

On Saturday the Portland area recieved yet another blast of winter.  High wind warnings, low 40’s and over an inch of rain so, I’d been pushing the buttons in the automobile. 

From country to soft rock and then I settled on this little gem from XM DeepTracks channel. 

With its stuttering intro and swagger…it’s about living in the moment, enjoying the ride.

“Well I was rollin’ down the road in some cold blue steel
I had a blues man in the back, and a beautician at the wheel
We going downtown in the middle of the night
We laughing and I’m jokin’ and we feelin’ alright
Oh I’m bad, I’m nationwide
Yes I’m bad, I’m nationwide”

The cool cat musicians I reference are ZZ Top singing “I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide” from the 1979 “Degüello” album.

I cranked up the volume to revel in the magic and was instantly reminded of the Aquarius Amphitheater at the 2007 Laughlin River Run. It was the 25th Anniversary of the motorcycle rally and ZZ Top headlined the largest bike rally in the western U.S. 

Thinking back to the concert I remember the stadium steps were sticky.  The people were sweaty.  The liquid refreshments were warm.  But we were thrilled to be there. There wasn’t a special section for hedge funders, no separation of the classes, we were one, motorcycle enthusiasts from across the country reveling in the music.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Laughlin, NV rally then it’s a must add to your riding “bucket list.”  It’s four days of wall-to-wall bikes, exhibits, vendors and entertainment. The rally is distinctive with 10 major casino resorts along a two-mile stretch on Casino Drive and everything is literally at your hotel doorstep.   The desert makes a great backdrop and riding bonus for the event. 

Sure there have been moments of negative, but in about 3 weeks it will be time for the 2010 Laughlin River Run.  I’m looking forward to a quick drive-by and then it’s on to a scenic tour around the canyon.  Grand Canyon.  I’ve previously posted on the 2009 Laughlin Rally HERE and 2008 Rally HERE.

Photo courtesy of ZZ Top, at Laughlin River Run.

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Keith Wandell Resignation Letter

The news was expected.

Harley-Davidson CEO Keith Wandell, citing the pressure of obtaining a motorcycle endorsement and regularly commuting with “cagers”, today announced he is retiring at the relative young age of 60.

It’s through my privileged relations with some of the major actors of the motorcycle industry that allow this blog to offer you an exclusive first look of the resignation letter below:

Date: April 1, 2010
To: Harley-Davidson Employees
From: Office of the President and CEO, Mr. Keith Wandell
Subject: A Letter To My Colleagues

This morning I am announcing my intention to retire by the time of our next board meeting.

It has become clear that in light of the continuing leadership doubt, and the unprecedented level of negative attention about my compensation package, the company – and each of you – has had to endure, that the best thing I can do for you, our dealer network and our shareholders is to retire.

Some of you have done an extraordinary job serving our customers despite the almost daily media distraction.  I feel strongly that the attacks about my riding experience and eight month compensation package of $6.4 million are unjustified, but unfortunately, they show no signs of abating. A simple reality check tells me that people are spending more time reading about the acrimony and not enough time buying our motorcycles from the newly reduced product line up.

What matters is not what happens to me, but it’s really about the remaining employees of Harley-Davidson, our employed customers and our shareholders. The whole is greater than the sum of any 2 parts and clearly more important than me “feeling good about where we are” as a company.   Even in the midst of the first quarterly loss in 16 years, the HDFS liquidity freeze, the India expansion, the Buell distractions, the union worker delinquencies in PA., and the MV Augusta sell-off strategy… my main regret in this short, but well paid, tenure, is that I will not be here to realize the potential of this bold strategy to return the company to a “new” normal.

I will retire when my successor is appointed. The Board has begun a high profile and expensive search for a new CEO, led by the head of the Board’s Compensation, Management Development and Succession Committee. I, of course, will do everything I can to assist in this transition. I will make sure that the company firmly “stays the course” until my successor is chosen.

Let me say that it will not be easy for me to leave. I take enormous pride in obtaining my motorcycle endorsement and I’ve met a bunch of new lunch-time riding buddies.  It’s been said that the true test of a leader is the performance of the company he leaves behind. On that score, I feel my short, but well paid legacy and public record are available for all to read.  The Board has asked me to assure you of their full support as we go through the transition and into the future.

To some of you, I offer my heartfelt thanks for the extraordinary opportunity to work with and lead you during this short tenure that I’ve been in Milwaukee. Of course I will continue to see some of you in the H-D Brewers suite and have enormous faith that the best of Harley-Davidson will be lived in the days ahead.

Sincerely,
Keith “Scooter” Wandell
President and CEO, Harley-Davidson

Happy April Fool’s! Enjoy the day even with all the faux news.

Photo is courtesy of H-D.

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