Posts Tagged ‘competition’

BITW-HelmetAs I write this I’m reminded that I was flying home from Barcelona, Spain about this time last year after a long work week at an industry event and that every year in business is different.

A few years are easy, some are hard, and most are somewhere in between. Each year you face a different set of circumstances: changing economic, political, social and what’s cool in the billet industry.

We know from the Discovery Channel which scripted a mini-series project about the history of Harley-Davidson, that in the early years the company really struggled to survive. From month to month, they worked hard to keep from getting further behind and sinking further into debt.  There were the AMF years and then came the housing bubble.  Those of you who have tried or are establishing a little business of your own know that success is much harder than you envisioned it should be. Many folks think there must be “one big thing” they are missing that if discovered and remedied would turn things around and put them on the path to major prosperity.

Clearly, that isn’t the case, and over the course of a few startup years often you learn that rather than “one big thing,” there are many functions throughout the business that had to get established in good working order for the business to really succeed.

After 114 years, this still holds true for Harley-Davidson. There are no guarantees or shortcuts to success. There is only doing the hard work that needs to be done, doing it to the highest standards, and identifying the next area to establish or improve in order to build the next generation of Harley-Davidson rides and riders to control their destiny.

All of this became acute over the last week when Harley announced their Q4 and full-year 2016 financial results (HERE).

Words like “intense competition, flat market, soft sales, and earnings miss” ruled the day.

These are just words.  I’m of the viewpoint that how well any company performs is a key factor in how well they succeed compared to their competition.  Since we’re a few days before Super Bowl — a sports analogy is in order — how well a team executes ALL aspects of their game has everything to do with whether they win or lose.

Obviously taste in motorcycle brands, styles, or in paint schemes, is subjective. Some in the press have beaten down the overall market with reports that seem to indicate the riding “fad” has ended. Granted there’s been negative publicity with Polaris shutting down the Victory Motorcycle brand and overall motorcycle industry earnings not being great, but there are many very nice motorcycles being made, and WE the riding enthusiasts/public have lots of choices.

Why do I bring this up?

I’ve notice in my travels that many successful companies have a sense that they are masters of their own fate; their success is within their control. They know it’s a myriad of little things done well that add up to their success. And no matter what their size, they realize that a company always has the resources at hand to take their next step. Isn’t that really the “art” of it: to creatively employ existing resources to advance the ride, the employees and the company?

Most of us know the answer to a problem is rarely found outside the company; it usually comes from within.  I’m confident that Harley-Davidson will find the answers and simply function better as an organization.  I predict they will do a more thorough job of performing the functions a successful motorcycle company needs to and roll out compelling new products that will be industry hits.

All Rights Reserved (C) Northwest Harley Blog

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weber-hdHarley-Davidson riders are a close-knit community that loves wind in the face and good food.

And the good news is Harley-Davidson’s Official Grill Partner for 2014, Weber Grills, will stage the Big Burger Battle Championship at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally on August 3rd.  The Weber Mobile Grill Academy will also be on site to allow motorcyclists a first-hand look at Weber’s grills and accessories and Weber will also host three hands-on grilling classes for Harley Owners Group (H.O.G) members on August 6.

Weber’s Big Burger Battle challenge is open to anyone, age 18 or older and you can submit your recipe, along with a photo of the creation HERE beginning now through June 23.

Three finalists will be hand-picked by Jamie Purviance, author of the new Weber’s Big Book of Burgers. Purviance is a national grilling expert, a New York Times best-selling cookbook author and James Beard Award Nominee.

If you’re the type person who likes playing with an assortment of wood chips and other smoldering materials, to see which types of smoke have the most appetizing affinities for beef, now is your chance to put your unique twist and spin on a burger that will stand out from the pack.

Good luck!

Photo courtesy of Weber and H-D.

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On a trip to San Francisco a while back I rented a Hyundai.  They pulled up this eggplant colored piece of crap and I winced.  A Hyundai?  So, it’s going to be one of those business trips I said to myself.

 Wasn’t there anything else, I ask?

Nope.  That was it and I’d already waited in line long enough.  So I got behind the wheel and took off down the expressway.

A few hundred miles later, dropping it off at the airport, it wasn’t that I regretted parting with it, but I did have a new found appreciation for this automobile.  Maybe because it was easy to locate in a “sea of rentals” that I became enamored with its quirky color and bonded with this machine which had absolutely no rattles, good sound insulation, decent handling and excellent gas mileage.  That’s right, a Hyundai.

I remember when people started showing up in Santa Fe’s a decade ago, I thought they were just too cheap to buy a Honda CR-V.  Or a Toyota RAV4. That’s how the public knew someone was a cheapskate, they bought a Hyundai. A Korean car.  But that was before Samsung became the new Sony.

These days I no longer wonder why Hyundai has made major inroads into the American automobile market, it’s inexpensive and it’s good!  Why waste all that extra money on a shinier nameplate?  Seems the brand is no longer tarnished and people don’t think twice about buying a Hyundai.   They want something good, at a fair price, and they’re beating a path to the Korean manufacturers door. 

And spare me the old school thought that lowering prices devalues the product.  People aren’t resisting Hyundai’s because they’re too inexpensive.   Hyundai markets the Genesis, an almost as good Lexus/Acura/Infiniti for almost ten grand less.  This is the era of value. Rather than insist that the customer come up to your price point, come down to his.  Meet him halfway.  Show that there’s a partnership, the same way Hyundai agreed to let you return your car if you lost your job.  An idea so good, other manufacturers imitated it.

IF you agree that Korean manufactures have made dramatic inroads with automobiles, is the motorcycle industry and specifically Harley-Davidson touring bikes next to feel the value-based heat?

It would seem so.   Because Georgia-based Hyosung Motors America Inc., a division of S&T Motors, a Korean motorcycle manufacturer is applying value pressure on the heavy-weight cruiser segment.  Foreign-based companies typically complete final assembly operations in the U.S., and according to First Research, the U.S. motorcycle manufacturing industry has a combined annual revenue of about $6B with touring and cruiser motorcycles accounting for 67% of the overall industry revenue.  Clearly that is where the competitors interest will be targeted.  At the Chicago stop of the International Motorcycle Show, Hyosung unveiled the 2010 ST7 cruiser and also display it at Daytona last week during Bike Week.  The ST7 is a classically styled cruiser that is a belt-driven, fuel-injected, has front and rear disc brakes and powered by a liquid-cooled 678cc DOHC V-twin with eight valves. Hyosung claims a maximum torque of about 46.5 ft.-lbs. at 7,500 rpm. And here is the best part.  MSRP is $7,299 and you can pick any color as long as it’s black, red or white.  If my HP 12c financial calculator is correct that’s about $10,000 less than what it would take to maintain brand loyalty with H-D.

One could assume Harley-Davidson is ‘tone deaf’ if they don’t hear Hyosung Motors riding up from behind, but I’ll bet they are reverse engineering one as I write this.  The Korean company is dedicated to making its mark on the international motorcycle market as a globalized brand that is conveying a brand connotation of “fashion, high-tech and elegance” while presenting sophisticated and elegantly made products with excellent price and performance.  They are the “Hyundai of motorcycles.”  It’s not a matter of if, rather when will it impact H-D sales.

It’s a tough economy and many feel priced out by today’s motorcycle industry.  Yeah, some of us marry an Oscar-winning actress or get embroiled in million-dollar intrafamily lawsuits.  But, for rest of us we want more entertainment for our discretionary dollar.  The gulf between the industry and the public, which is sick of overpaying for everything means it’s never too late for Harley-Davidson to regain the hearts and minds of the consumer.  But it must offer good products at fair prices.  It’s really that simple.

Photo courtesy of Hyosung Motors.

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At Street Vibrations this year I visited the Indian Motorcycle “booth”.  They had a large display of motorcycles set up in the show truck on 3rd and Virginia Street which is right under the “Biggest Little City” sign in Reno.  It was often crowded and interest was high.  Unfortunately they didn’t sell t-shirts.  If so, I would have drop a bit more coin for some so, maybe it was a good thing. 

At any rate, the Indian Motorcycle Company, owned largely by Stellican Limited (a London-based private equity firm) has quite the history and you can learn much more about Americas first motorcycle HERE.

Recently Indian opened the first dealership in Charlotte, NC and provided factory tours in Kings Mountain.  Here is a video of the tour.  I know people who have several old Indian’s and it’s exciting to see the brand return.  I hope they are very successful as they represent the only other American-made heavyweight cruiser to compete with Harley-Davidson.  Competition is good.

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