Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Keith Wandell’

By now you’ve likely read the Q1’12 financial report about how Harley-Davidson Inc. blew away the key financial metrics for the quarter.

You know – Financial Reports – the documents and records pulled together by the motor company to track and review how much money the business is making (or not) with the purpose to update the lenders and shareholders.  These reports are not very friendly or helpful explanations.  More often they require an accounting degree because of the use of financial derivatives, contracts and instruments.

At any rate, not only did H-D report strong gains in earnings for the first quarter of 2012, but motorcycle and related products revenue for the quarter jumped to $1.27 billion, compared with $1.06 billion for the year-ago period.  Consolidated revenue for the quarter, which includes revenue from H-D’s financial services unit, rose to $1.43 billion for the quarter, compared with $1.22 billion in the year-ago quarter.  Most important was the fact that retail sales of new motorcycles grew 20.3 percent worldwide in the quarter compared with the prior-year period and it was led by a strong 25.5 percent increase in the U.S.

Is Harley-Davidson becoming cool to work for again?

It’s a big place and I’m sure some would say yes its cool.  However, what they’ve been through the last couple years has been painful and the process of getting rid of a lot of old bad habits has some maybe thinking no.  The Harley-Davidson chairman, president and CEO, Keith Wandell’s willingness to take on the risks took a lot of courage and it now seems to be paying off.

In other words, it takes 10,000 hours to become world class.  This is a key point in Malcolm Gladwell’s book called “Outliers” which has popularized the theory of 10,000 hours to excellence.  Clearly Mr. Wandell has put in his 10,000 hours, but that doesn’t mean anyone will notice.  Many will just shrug their shoulders at his accomplishments, or they might not even care.

I’ve taken notice and wonder if Harley-Davidson is ahead of its time or is the outlook less optimistic because they’re very good at setting targets that they are confident of being able to hit?

I would suggest that their success this quarter has been largely dependent on “baggers” and the discretionary spending situation improving versus bold new designs.  Meaning the whole motorcycle industry is running on conventional wisdom. People keep doing it the way everybody else is doing it, not expecting a different result so much as being desirous of converting people over to their brand or getting the few remaining conventional buyers left in the business.

You might disagree, but from my vantage Harley-Davidson hasn’t busted out a new “hit” (model) with worldwide success in long time despite the daily onslaught of promotions and publicity.  I’m talking about a stand in the line type of hit!  The conventional orthodoxy of the motorcycle industry is that H-D’s are styled conservatively.  This is typical market research talking.  It’s conventional wisdom saying don’t take a risk on design.  Just accept safe.  A blacked-out bolt here and a new red glitter color there.

Independent of this most recent financial report, the issue is that “safe” doesn’t consistently move the needle in terms of sales.

John Krafcik, President and CEO of Hyundai Motor America

If that were true then Hyundai sales wouldn’t be burgeoning or would they be the most feared major car company in the U.S.  Do you remember when Hyundai’s used to be a joke? Jay Leno said you could double a Hyundai’s value by filling it up with gas.  No one’s laughing now as Hyundai’s John Krafcik steered it from joke to contender. It took a risk.

So, when will we see some of that product “risk” that Harley-Davidson refers to in the quarterly financial reports?  Or has it all come down to being safe and going after the number of “likes” on social networking sites?  Hey, Harley… 1999 called and said they want the true-to-self artistry back!  We can smell the hype.  We know when you’re working it.  What’s sup with all the emphasis on tweeting and hyper-vomiting facebook “fans” over everyone’s networking profiles.  It all adds to the dissonant fray of self promotion and it’s hard to hear when everyone is yelling.

If you have a hot product, people want it.  We know when something impacts us, when we believe it’s great.  And when we find something good, we want to get closer, we want to tell everybody we know.  You don’t have to tweet, you don’t have to Facebook, you don’t even need a website. But it’s got to be different, it’s got to challenge conventional wisdom, it’s got to appeal to people’s hearts more than their pocket books.

Harley-Davidson is at a point where they can make the transformation from the perennial also-ran to a motorcycle industry jauggernaut that pushes the envelope in its designs while other companies try to catch up.  Or the Hyundai equivalent will…

Photos courtesy of H-D and Richard Drew/AP.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog
Advertisements

Read Full Post »

It’s unlikely that you are aware of this, but prior to the New Years holiday I sent a friendly email to Harley-Davidson’s CEO, Keith Wandell and challenged him to a little competition.

We know that Mr. Wandell likes to golf, but it wasn’t like that “caddy” and “wager” from the scene in Caddyshack… “Five bucks says the kid picks his nose…” nor was it like The Office episode where everyone at the Scranton branch were making bets, one of which was to switch Creed’s apple for a potato and see if he would know the difference.  While that’d be funny I’m sure that Mark-Hans Richer would quickly notice.

Truth be told I suggested a friendly wager for Monday’s Rose Bowl between the Oregon Ducks and Wisconsin Badgers.

In the personal message I stated that if the Badgers lose Mr. Wandell would pull together a care package of Leinenkugel’s beer, Wisconsin cheese, and a package of Andes mints.  Maybe even throw in a discount coupon for some Harley chrome with a personalized note.  Should the Ducks lose, I would send him an Oregon nut— I know what you’re thinking— Hazelnuts and a dead fish (smoked king salmon) to his office in Wisconsin.  I was also willing to throw in a promise of writing only “you done good” blogs about the motor company for a full month.

Must I remind that the Ducks won the game?!

You might want to re-check your email SPAM folder and unblock Northwest Harley Blog email.  I’m sure I sent it.  You know where to get in touch, Keith.  Here’s a cheer in advance of receiving the Leinenkugel refreshments!

Photo created by author at Opuscreative.com

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

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.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

The holidays are time for a lot of cheer and goodwill. But there is one more infamous element to the holiday season that everyone is familiar with — the office party.

The Harley-Davidson Christmas party notice surfaced on WikiLeaks, and I decided to share it with you below:

From: The Office of The President
Subject: Friday’s Christmas Party

As CEO of the company I decided we’d save some money and have a potluck Christmas party whereby the ladies (who always enjoy cooking anyway) would bring the baked goods this year.  I was going to suggest having entertainment but NO ONE wants to do anything in the way of organizing anything and it is always left up to me, your humble “Head Honcho”  to come up with something that will make the event an enjoyable one for all.

I have struggled with entertainment ideas because many workers do not want their boss to go to the office Christmas party, fearing they will spoil the fun or even spark a violent reaction.  I’m reminded of a recent survey where 2,000 adults by restaurant chain TGI Friday’s found that one in three believed having their manager around stops everyone having fun. One in five said they do not want their boss to attend the office Christmas party at all and 27% are worried they might not be able to resist telling them exactly what they think of them!  One in eight was worried things could turn physical, while 1% revealed they had quit their job at the office party.  But I’ve digressed.

Clearly the office Christmas party is all about cutting loose, having fun and celebrating all the hard work the staff have put in over the year, but I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t tell you that after all the employee concession’s we ‘negotiated’ in the new union contract which will re-build our next-generation workforce, has me a little worried about what that 27 percent has to say!

Nonetheless, as the big BOSS I’ll move forward and give the staff what they want… which is a mix of a lively atmosphere, silly games, great food and indulgent cocktails, and of course, look on the bright side of the boss being there – I’ll pick up the tab!  In addition I plan to bring my new T-Pain super smooth singing microphone for the Karaoke game and Christmas caroling.

HR posted a notice on the company bulletin board (see above photo) and for those of you not in Milwaukee know that you’ll be in our holiday party thoughts.  Lastly, I ask that each of you to send me a short email on one or two trivia details about yourself because in preparation for the upcoming Christmas party – I plan to play “The Man” – Santa – and I’m making a naughty or nice list.   Ho, Ho, Ho.

Yours truly,
Keith

Note: Because parody is all the rage on the internet, I decided to have a little fun.  Clearly not an official H-D publication on WikiLeaks, but it could be!

Logo in photo courtesy of H-D.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

There is an interesting story in today’s Washington Post on a financial fact where the Federal Reserve bought “paper” from Harley-Davidson – 33 separate times in 2008-09, for a total of $2.3 Billion.

This is most surprising!

Clearly the financial crisis went beyond banks.  No surprise there.  The Fed’s efforts to prop up the financial sector are well known, but it turns out that millions of dollars in emergency “aid” went to a broad spectrum of American companies and now we learn it included Harley-Davidson.

Did H-D provide information on the terms of their deal?  Did H-D provide full disclosure of the benefit received through the Fed’s program to ease the market for commercial paper (a form of short-term debt used to fund daily activities)?  Did the Fed’s lower standards for the kind of collateral allowed for H-D to participate?  I’m not aware of any statement or notification made during previous quarterly financial reports/calls, but again I’m not heads down on a daily basis into their financial reports either.

I jumped over to Harley-Davidson’s website (archive tab) to see if their corporate news archive mentioned this arrangement.  I could not find anything.  I reviewed the 2009 report/press release and again could not locate any specific reference to the Fed’s deal.

Is there an issue with this?  Not legally, but it’s hard for me to wrap my head around the “future is so bright” picture of prosperity that CEO Keith Wandell has been projecting recently.  Granted it was extraordinary times in 2008-09 when no credit was available, but this extraordinary $2.3 Billion “aid” package potentially means that H-D got off easy while at the same time they announced life altering employee restructuring activities and requested employee concessions through new labor agreements at York, Pa; Milwaukee and currently ongoing in KS.

Many will see this as a crafty move by the CEO Keith Wandell.  Clearly those lunch meetings at the White House paid off.

Still… does any of this matter?  I suppose not, but the interesting thing is that sometimes Government-related entities (the Federal Reserve is not specifically a branch of the U.S. – it is a privately held bank) will resist your repayment after you have the cash to do so. They do this so that they may continue to excerpt  influence and can apply pressure on a company’s direction.

UPDATE: December 6, 2010 – According to the Milwaukee BizJournal the Federal Reserved reported that all TAF loans (including H-D) have been repaid in full.

Photo courtesy of PiperReport.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

Way back in 2009 I posted a blog about H-D’s restructuring and management looking at moving from the York, Penn. plant due to inefficiencies, cost structure and a major problem with absenteeism.

At the time H-D was looking at four other possible sites including moving operations to the Kansas City facility.  I even wrote a tongue-n-cheek letter to CEO, Keith Wandell stating Oregon was open for business if they wanted to consider the west coast for relocation.  Concessions were made to keep the plant in York, changes in work culture and a new attendance policy were negotiated as part of a multi-year restructuring deal and the York plant continues on.

Then earlier this year I posted about H-D management giving it’s Milwaukee workers an ultimatum… approve a new labor agreement or risk losing/moving jobs out of Milwaukee (PTO and Tomahawk) to the Kansas City plant or to another state.  Ratification of a new labor agreement occurred on September 14, 2010 which meant fewer employees and a whole host of other changes to generate about $50M in annual operating savings.

And speaking of Kansas City, Harley-Davidson management has told its KC plant employees this week that they must accept wage and other concessions or the plant could be closed or move.  The company stated the plant would be merged with one in York, Penn.  The company said: “that recent internal studies show significant cost, efficiency and production flexibility gaps in the Kansas City operations,” which must be addressed.

Talk about déjà vu… all over again!

Is it about the “Art of Negotiation” or is management truly committed to closing the Kansas City plant?  Probably a little of both, as we’ve seen in the past the recession favors management and puts more pressure on workers to agree to the demands.  In fact, in each of the previous cases the company has obtained nearly all the concessions ask.

Adding to the KC efficiency insult was the company statement of how it would make a final decision in Q1, 2011.  Gives the workers something to think about over the holidays.  Just stay classy H-D!

Photo courtesy of web.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: