Posts Tagged ‘Italy’

Kingfisher-LogoI’m talking about Kingfisher.

Beer was introduced into India by the British, who eventually set up a brewery that produced Asia’s first beer — a pale ale called Lion. However, these days, lager is the only type of beer you’ll find available in India and “The King of Good Times” is Kingfisher.

It’s India’s most recognized and widely available beer. Its name has been associated with sports, fashion, and even an airline.

And sooner than anyone would have thought… in Bawal, India a Harley-Davidson assembly line worker will be having a Kingfisher and relaxing with co-workers.

But, I’ve gotten ahead of myself…  let’s jump into the the way back machine and set the dial for — 2009.

The fact is we must focus both our effort and our investment on the Harley-Davidson brand, as we believe this provides an optimal path to sustained, meaningful long-term growth,” said CEO Keith Wandell at the October 15, 2009 announcement to discontinue production of Buell motorcycles.  On October 30, 2009 the last Buell (Lightning XB12Scg) rolled off the company’s East Troy, Wisconsin. assembly line.  It was the last of the 136,923 motorcycles built in the company’s 26 years of operation.

Harley-Davidson Street 750

Harley-Davidson Street 750

It was a combination of factors in making the decision, but essentially the global recession forced a reckoning and Harley-Davidson decided to refocus on its tent pole products or what I’d call doubling down on its core lineup of heavyweight bikes.  As a result, the motor company abandoned entry level motorcycles (Buell Blast), exited the sport bike (Buell and sold MV) and thumb their noses at the adventure market (Buell Ulysses).   In the process the motor company made a lot of motorcycle enthusiasts upset about what looked like a myopic approach of only looking at spreadsheets versus doing a bit more market research and addressing a need.

Jump ahead 4-years and witness the financial rebound of the company and the launch this week of the new Harley-Davidson Street 750 and Street 500 motorcycles.  Could it be a Buell Blast ReDeux?  The smaller 500cc motorcycle basically fills a void left when they discontinued the Buell motorcycle line which included the 492cc Buell Blast.  More important in this announcement is the fact that the motorcycles will be made both in the U.S. and Bawal, India, marking the first time the company will manufacture a complete motorcycle at an overseas facility.  I’ll repeat that… the first time the company will manufacture a complete motorcycle outside the U.S.!

Harley-Davidson Street 750  (Side View)

Harley-Davidson Street 750 (Side View)

The manufacturing news in of itself will be fodder for many future blog posts, but sticking to the motorcycle announcement, the new ‘Street’ bikes are the first Harley-Davidson motorcycles to be designed from scratch since the V-Rod 13 years ago.

It makes this Road Glide owner wonder if that’s an indicator of where all the engineers were redirected in lieu of updating the ‘Glide’ with the all new Project RUSHMORE features that were incorporated into the new 2014 touring models?

The fact is the company has aggressively expanded its marketing efforts because realistically, there is no replacing white Baby Boomer men. And this means they have to attract younger men, non-Caucasian men, women, and do that from countries as disparate as India, Italy, Brazil and the U.S. with much more success.  By turning inwards, relying on a single-brand tradition and nationalism over the last 4-years and divesting itself of brands that were dimming the lights on a brighter future–the motor company can and now has expanded into other segments.

At the Street 750/500 announcement the Harley-Davidson, CEO Keith Wandell said, “The younger riders don’t want their dad’s chromed-out Harley,” “They want the Dark Custom, sinister look, the ability to rebel.

Sounds like a bit of marketing spin, but with more than half of its dealerships outside the U.S., Harley-Davidson has really put a lot of investment behind a push to expand and broaden its customer base including new motorcycle buyers–worldwide.

Photo’s courtesy of H-D and Kingfisher.  Note: Kingfisher, “The King of Good Times”, is India’s most recognized and widely available beer. Its name has been associated with sports, fashion, and even an airline.

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Buddy Miller

Buddy Miller

Conventional wisdom is you build a star through hits.  Be it “hits” with motorcycle models or music songs.

These days the media is busy parading the faces of barely pubescent “artists” in front of the non-caring public while true musicians are doing what they’ve always done.  Play!

Hey, there’s a concept… perfecting your craft until their so great people become “infected” when they listen to that magical concoction of musical sound which penetrates your body.  We can debate through the night what’s good intellectually, but when someone starts to play and they wring out a good feeling from their guitar, like being in a bar way past midnight wanting the evening to never end because tomorrow is drudgery…. you get a feel good smile on our face.

That’s what Buddy Miller’s music is about.  Defined by the music “machine” as country, yet that’s not the only format his music belongs.  He isn’t good-looking enough for a fashion spread in “GQ” or a multi-page foldout in “Rolling Stone”.  Buddy Miller is 56 years old.  He’s a heart attack survivor and like many people in their mid-life he’s viewed as being on the downhill slide, but he’s just starting to hit his stride!  He didn’t give up or quit and go into his daddy’s business.  Instead he focused on the music.  Recording it and playing it live.  As a craftsman he goes into the studio when inspired vs. when label’s want to sell more and lay’s down something truly great.  I’m a fan.

What’s my point, you ask?   It involves motorcycles and is specific to Buddy Miller’s aluminum neck electric guitar.  Made in Italy it’s a 1960’s vintage called a “Davoli.” You can see/hear about his guitar HERE or read more information at Vintage Guitar.

wandreBriefly it all started with Wandré Pioli who began designing and building guitars in the mid-50’s.  At some point during those early years, Wandré hooked up with Athos Davoli, whose company at the time was part of a conglomerate known as Radio Elettromeccanica Krundaal, located in Parma, Italy. The two worked on developing the electronics that eventually appeared in Wandré guitars.  As a pioneering guitar designer, Wandré was attracted early on to aluminum and it’s structural material.   As a motorcycle enthusiast he restored motorcycles and was often seen riding the Italian countryside.  His interest in motorcycles was reflected in the design and workmanship of his guitar vibrato system. Either a triangular or diamond-shaped affair was attached to the aluminum core and faced outward with a cast metal “W”… it looked very much like a motorcycle medallion of the day.  However, most of the guitar production used pickups made by the Athos Davoli company. These were large, trapezoid-shaped pickups with stamped metal covers that said “Davoli/Made In Italy.” The Davoli pickup cover imprint was often the only identification found on Wandré guitars, contributing to the misinformation that they are “Davoli” guitars.

It seems much of life is drudgery.  We worry too much and it’s why we’re searching for gems to get us through.  And when we find one, we tell everybody we know.  So, here is a shout out to the motorcycle loving master craftsman Wandré and his eccentric guitar design.  And to finding a real gem playing that guitar is Buddy Miller and a brilliant song.

Photo courtesy of Michael Wilson.

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