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jc_t_4002_301Tapping the company that manufactured the electric room thermostat, Johnson Controls Inc. (NYSE:JCI),  Harley-Davidson announced today that Keith E. Wandell will succeed James Ziemer (CEO), who is retiring.  Wandell, 59, currently serves as President and COO of Milwaukee-based Johnson Controls, a $38 billion global company. Wandell is a 21-year veteran of JCI and starts at Harley-Davidson May 1st.

Wandell joined Johnson Controls in 1988 as a plant manager in the Toledo, Ohio battery facility.  He then held positions in the Automotive Experience Group and the Power Solutions business.  He was named president of the Automotive Experience in 2003 which grew to an $18.1B, and 75,000 employee business in FY 2008.

Keith Wandell

Keith Wandell

Johnson Controls has attracted a lot of attention lately as an auto parts supplier and the dire state of the industry/pessimism from wall street.  In February they announced it would shut down 10 factories and slash 4000 jobs.  One would think under Mr. Wandell’s leadership they would be the kind of company that is a major player in green building and sustainability in general.  They are the biggest makers of hybrid car batteries in the U.S. and to their credit they talk a lot about energy efficiency, but the company does not maintain a corporate blog, have Facebook or Twitter “voices” and when it comes to things like LEED certification, green building, and concepts like cradle-to-cradle and carbon emission they are fairly silent.  There is a public facing site which they help maintain on using energy wisely HERE.

Perhaps this is a bright spot in Harley’s history and not a “Shuttin’ Detroit Down” moment for Mr. Wandell.  Time will tell if Wandell can teach an old motorcycle manufacture new tricks.

Photo courtesy JCI.

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