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Posts Tagged ‘CEO’

Northwest Riding Season's

As I sit down and write this post, it is 45 degrees with rain and wind.  I spent the last week at NAMM in Anaheim, CA where it was sunny.  Today is one of those gray winter days that make me wonder what I’m doing here.

Then I remember driving in L.A. traffic during rush hour and thinking this is nuts. Or rolling through Furnace Creek on Hwy 190 last April watching it approach 90 degrees and thinking that’s nuts.  Or even a couple summers ago rolling across Alberta where it was super flat and you’d ride 20+ miles between curves in the road.  That’s when I remember why I’m here…

The northwest has some of the best riding roads in the country and we actually have seasons.

And speaking of seasons, it’s earning’s ‘season’ and Harley-Davidson announced a profit versus a year ago loss.  Harley’s sales of motorcycle and related products grew 13% in 2011 and the recent quarter marked its third-straight increase in U.S. sales.  The result is remarkable given that most financial analysts see a continuing “trough” in the U.S. economy, which is beset by a weak recovery and a jobless rate that is likely to remain in the 8% range for 2012.

Harley’s motorcycle and related product revenue rose 12% to $1.03B.  Retail sales of new motorcycles grew 11% worldwide and included a 12% increase in the U.S.  International sales rose 9.7% and included a 5.8% increase in Europe, even though consumer confidence has been shaken by the current economic crisis.  The motor company shipped 50,730 motorcycles to dealers and distributors during the quarter, compared with 44,481 in the same quarter last year. For the full year, shipments rose 11% to 233,117 bikes.  Even Harley’s financial services division got a boost from improved credit conditions. New motorcycle loans jumped 14% to $349.5 million and represented about half of the company’s retail sales.

Keith Wandell (H-D CEO and President) credited the Q4 sales jump to improved consumer confidence in the U.S., along with key growth investments overseas.  However, in Europe, the Euro-zone is facing its own, even larger, economic crisis and Mr. Wandell reminded the  analysts with, “We will continue to keep a close watch on the marketplace and remain cautious in our expectations of retail given the degree of continued economic uncertainty including regions like the Euro zone.”

For all of 2011, Harley reported net income of $599.1 million, or $2.33 per share, up from $146.5 million, or $1.11 per share, in 2010.  Motorcycle and related product revenue increased to $4.66B from $4.18B.

Photo taken by author.

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Apple II Ad

Steve Jobs has passed away and what we’ll find over the next couple of weeks will be planned storylines about the life of Apple’s co-founder and his time in Oregon attending Reed College.

I had an article ready to post about the letdown of the iPhone 4S launch.  Given all the hyperbolic speculation and secrecy leading up to the launch I’m not sure expectations could have ever been met, but it all just feels off. Like way off today.

I did a blog post HERE last year about Steve riding on a BMW, nostalgia and my early Apple experiences.  I have very clear recollection of Apple when living in North Dakota attending college.   For awhile I worked part-time at Team Electronics (Store #30) in Bismarck.  This was circa 1977 and I distinctly remember when the first Apple II computer showed up at the store.  In college we were learning how to write BASIC programs for an Intel 4004 CPU (4-bit).  No one knew what to do with the Apple II (8-bit), but soon enough we figured out how to spent hours playing a Star-trek game (loaded by cassette tape).

Whether you love or hate Apple–or fall somewhere in between–it’s hard not to acknowledge that Steve Jobs was a remarkable and brilliant man. He’s also a man who we don’t really know a lot about in his personal life. But he’s also a man who changed a lot of lives.  Mine included and I wanted to thank him for that today.

Wozniak and Jobs in the early days

Steve Jobs clearly loved what he did and I’ve returned several times to his 2005 Stanford commencement speech, where he said:

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma–which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

I didn’t really know what my reaction would be until the moment actually came.  I’m profoundly sad today on the news of his passing.  Steve’s remarkable ability to touch every person on the planet started in Minneapolis and for me it started in 1977.  My heart goes out to his family and many friends.

Photo courtesy of Apple.

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Keith Wandell doing The Street Interview

Haven’t you heard? The CEO of Harley-Davidson, Keith Wandell has decided to take time off from the company in order to pursue his dream of playing keyboard in a band named “Wizard.”

Just kidding—unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you probably already know what Keith is up to this week.  He’s coming off a “Booyah” financial quarter where by every financial measure the company has generated improvements.

I ran across this video where Mr. Wandell does an interview with The Street reporter Debra Borchardt.   He’s in the press “hot seat” and provided some insights into H-D’s relative success in the 1H 2011.  The Street — is a leading provider of financial news, commentary, analysis, ratings, and business and investment content, made available through online publications, content syndication and audio and video programming.

Side Bar: Mr. Wandell has come a long way from the initial days of not owning or riding a motorcycle to where today he owns three!  He rides a Street Glide CVO 2011; Road King Classic; and Dyna Wide Glide.  That H-D employee discount must be working out for him.

The bottom line of the interview is Harley-Davidson is rockin’ with Mr. Wandell!

Photo courtesy of The Street.

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A yet to be announced new 2012 model from Harley-Davidson was inadvertently released to the public by the California Environmental Protection Agency/Air Resources Board.  No details have been released or provided by the Motor Company, but according to CARB’s online listing of 2012 H-D models that the agency approved the new models show up HERE.

If the information is complete it looks like three motorcycles are being discontinued (Softail Cross Bones, Softail Rocker and Street Glide Trike).  There are additional models getting the 103 cu inch and the new “SwitchBack” which is getting its name for the ability to be switched back and forth from touring to non-touring.  Isn’t that the same as a convertible which has been out for 3 years now?  There is also what looks to be a new 10th Anniversary V-Rod model.

Water Cooled V-Twin

It might be premature on my part, but these new models don’t look like a major transformation underway in product development.  It looks more like a really big yawn vs. true innovation.  The fact that Keith E. Wandell (President and CEO), a position he has held since May 2009 has pontificated in every earnings call about the new direction for Harley-Davidson through the development and implementation of a strategic plan based on the core tenets of growth, continuous improvement, leadership development and sustainability…. which includes expansion of the company’s global reach and product development transformations along with manufacturing capabilities for improved responsiveness is lacking.  I’ll reserve final judgment until the actual 2012 release at the end of July, but at this point I find myself asking is “SwitchBack” code word for a return to the old axiom…if it sticks out chrome it, if breaks make it bigger and if it’s ugly paint it black?!

And speaking of innovation, check out this link to Cyril Huze’s blog about a water cooled patent that H-D filed over a year ago… it seems to have resurrected a worldwide discussion on when will water cooled V-twins finally hit the market.  Obviously not in 2012, but maybe in 2013?

UPDATE: June 30, 2011 – Partial release of the new 2012 models occurred about a month early.  See URL HERE.

UPDATE: July 20,2011 – The H-D “SwitchBack” was rolled out at the Anaheim, CA., dealer meeting this morning and the web site is now live HERE.

Photo courtesy of CARB and ICB

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Millionaires Don’t Feel Wealthy

According to a recent survey, 4 out of 10 millionaires don’t feel wealthy.  The point at which they do “feel it” is about $7.5M according to the Fidelity Millionaire Outlook who tracks millionaires confidence viewpoint.

And speaking of millionaires, it’s unclear if Mr. Keith Wandell (CEO, Harley-Davidson) is feeling wealthy versus feeling a bit pinched because according to the AP and papers recently filed with regulators Mr. Wandell received compensation valued at $6.4M in 2010, only up 1% from 2009 when he spent just 8-months on the job.  There were stock and option awards totaling $3.02M and a performance-based cash bonus of $2.3M which accounted for most of his compensation.

I know what you’re thinking… in this day an age of splendiferous benefits, where Milwaukee County bus drivers are making a 6-figure income along with many other working class heroes… we need to cut Mr. Wandell some slack, right?  He’s unified the company, changed whatever can be changed, clearly communicated that everybody’s got to get better at everything and today the road signs suggest a turnaround for the heavy-cruiser company.  In fact, if we go by the past year’s stock (NYSE: HOG) price it has hit a 52-week low of $21.26 and a 52-week high of $43.14 which is a home run in anyone’s portfolio!  Yet, with continued oil fears and the Japan crisis who knows if Harley will drive home better numbers.

To be fair, I’m a little guilty of treating some millionaires a bit like a piñata, but I just read a report about how half of the ‘rescued’ borrowers still default.  That’s not the millionaires issue, but when I hear they don’t “feel” wealthy it’s difficult for me to relate!  The housing market is up and then it’s down depending on which paragraph you read in the SAME article!  Where are the jobs?   Just about a month ago we were stunned and hopeful over the unrest in Tunisia and Egypt.  Then concern followed with the Libya unrest and now war preventing Qaddafi from harming civilians which has been quickly followed with what seems like a weekly double-digit hike in…doesn’t it feel like ‘we’re working just for gas now’?  And then how ’bout that whining from one of the more famous multi-millionaires:

“I’m not broke, but I was kind of counting on some of that money to get me through the summer.  Now I’ve got to like work.  But that’s alright.  Work’s good.  Work fuels the soul.” – said the ‘peaceful man with bad intentions’, Charlie Sheen.

Hey Mr. Sheen quit whining like a little butch and get a grip that your gravy train is done.  We’re all trying to get a little work and counting on some motorcycle rally money to get us through the summer.  Although we don’t all roll with a baby-sitter porn-star mistress.   Winning opportunity – Duh?!

Far be it for me to use the troubles of another to further my blog career, but Mr. Wandell doesn’t get a total pass — it was just last September when he stated that Harley-Davidson management had lost control of costs.  The key item he mentioned was employees at the Harley Menomonee Falls Plant were making an average $32 per hour in wages and with benefits added were costing the company $75 per hour.  He then made reference to General Motors – sort of a connect the dots if you can with the media — and the inability to remain profitable under the burden of its payroll, pension and benefits costs.  Many perceived this as whining and some had an “allergic reaction” to the fact that a CEO who makes more than $6M a year was whining about how out of control workers wages have become….was shall we say, less than gripping.  I’m sure if Mr. Wandell could have a “do-over” he’d try and not alienate the workers again.

And speaking of CEO bonuses, they’ve bounced back faster than a Charlie Sheen Google search.  Mr. Wandell might be thinking his $2.3M performance-based cash bonus was rather paltry when compared to: Howard Schultz (CEO, Starbucks) $3.5M; Jeffery Immelt (CEO, GE) $4M; Daniel Ustian (CEO, Navistar) $3.9M; Robert Iger (CEO, Walt Disney) $13.5M?  According to this WSJ report the median cash bonus at 50 major corporations jumped 30.5% in 2010.

A wise man once told me that there’s no “I” in ‘team, but there are two in whining…

Photo courtesy of Harvey Comics.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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CEO, Keith E. Wandell

I’m not talking about Obama’s State of the Union address.  Unfortunately I missed that opportunity to talk back to the TV with his long speech about “investment” plans in education, technology, roads and public sector workers.

Rather, my title reference is about Harley-Davidson (NYSE: HOG) who reported fourth-quarter earnings, a loss from operations of $42.1M, or $0.18 per share, which includes the impact of a one-time, $85.2M charge from the Company’s early repurchase of senior unsecured notes during the quarter.  H-D also reported better news on the full-year 2010 income of $259.7M, or $1.11 per share, compared to income of $70.6M, or $0.30 per share, in 2009.

Mr. Wandell (CEO) stated the company faces “significant challenges” ahead as it tries to navigate the changing economic landscape marred by 9%+ unemployment and worsening home foreclosure rates.  All of this underlines the challenges awaiting H-D in 2011 as it seeks to compete.  H-D management hopes the economy will improve, they’ve changed about all they can to manage down factory shipments and invested in workers by way of transforming labor agreements.

For the 2010 year, H-D shipped 210,494 motorcycles, in line with its target range of 207,000 to 212,000 motorcycles. Full-year shipments were 5.6% lower than 2009, when the Company shipped 223,023 units. Revenue from Harley-Davidson motorcycles for the full year was $3.14 billion, a 1.2 percent decrease compared to 2009. In contrast the full year 2009 compared to 2008, motorcycle retail sales decreased 22.7% worldwide, 25.8% in the U.S. and 15.4% in international markets.

The full transcript of the earnings call can be found HERE.

Photo courtesy of H-D Annual Report.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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This holiday season I want to thank all of you for your continued support and wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy New Years!

Below is a little poem I crafted for the Harley team…

December 24, 2010

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the Harley house,
Not a manager was stirring, not even a supervisor mouse;
Annual reviews were hung by the HR door with care,
In hopes year-end bonuses soon would be there.

Directors nestled all snug in their beds,
While dreams of promotion danced in their heads;
Ms. Tonit in snowflake sweater, and me in my suspenders,
We’d just settled down to write our year-enders,

When from the 3rd floor there came such a clatter,
I sprang from my desk to attend to the matter.
Clutching my iPhone I flew up the stairs,
Wondering what marketing-caused mayhem I might find there.

With the moon high above the Tomahawk facility
It cast a glow over Financial Services Billing & Eligibility,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a medium-height chap looking quite cavalier.

That glass in his hand, so clearly a Red Zinfandel,
I knew in a moment: Keith E. Wandell!

More rapid than eagles his lieutenants they came,
As he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

“Now Dasher, Now Dancer, & you Curator Bill,
On Joanne! On Mark-Hans! On Enrico! You work here, still?”
“Into my office! At the end of the hall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”

Up they lined, like toy soldiers taking up residence,
It was a small army of regular and senior vice presidents.
And then Keith began banging on his shiny new laptop,
“Yes, Friday’s are Casual Day, but this plant absenteeism has to stop.”

I spoke not a word, and was turning around,
When out of his black-and-orange chair the boss came with a bound.
His eyes — how they twinkled! And this I must, say
His cheeks were like roses, all red like a football fan on a cold Packers day!

His Holiday necktie drawn up tight like a bow,
And the bald of his head was as white as the snow;
He had a broad face and the Harley t-shirt showed a little CEO belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

He wasn’t chubby nor plump, just a jolly old elf,
And I smiled when I saw him, in spite of everyone else;
A wink of his eye and a nod of his head,
Soon let us know that H-D VP’s had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but with fingers quite soft,
He started filling envelopes so fast it made him cough,
And laying a finger aside of his nose,
He gave a wave and twist, down the elevator he goes;

He sprang up on his motorcycle sidecar, to his team gave a shout,
“To Miller Park!” he cried, it’s time to chill out.”
And I heard him exclaim, as he throttled away,
“I have envelopes for all and for all, have a great Harley ridin’ day!”

Photo courtesy of Tom Queoff (USA Snow Sculpting Team)

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

 

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