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Recently it was reported that the typical CEO at the biggest U.S. companies received an 8.5 percent raise last year, taking in $11.5 million in salary, stock and other compensation, according to a study by executive data firm Equilar for the Associated Press.

Over the last 5-years, median CEO pay has jumped by 19.6 percent not accounting for inflation.  That’s nearly double the 10.9 percent rise in the typical weekly paycheck for full-time employment across the country.

It could be, but this isn’t a rant about the typical line worker vs. CEO wage-gap.

If we’re being intellectually honest, CEOs today are required to master a broader range of skills than in the past, when top executives might have climbed the ranks with just one discipline. Companies are bigger, more global and increasingly complicated, and there’s accelerating competition in countries such as China, India and Brazil. Executives must also adapt to quicker technological change, including shifts brought on by autonomous driving, electric vehicles and the widening use of mobile devices.  And then there is the Board, and the increasing requirement that CEOs push their stock price ever higher to collect their maximum possible payout.

So, who are those CEOs at Harley-Davidson, that made Harley-Davidson?  Below is a historical snapshot of the motor company leadership:

Matthew S. Levatich

Matthew S. Levatich — is the current Harley-Davidson President/CEO which he assumed in 2015.  Mr. Levatich was named COO during CEO Keith Wandell’s tenure.

Mr. Levatich, joined Harley-Davidson in 1994. Prior to becoming COO in May 2009, he held wide-ranging roles in the U.S. and Europe. Those roles included Vice President and General Manager of Harley-Davidson’s Parts and Accessories business, Vice President of Materials Management, and President and Managing Director of the Company’s former MV Agusta business. In addition to an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Levatich holds a graduate degree in engineering management and an MBA from Northwestern University. He has served on the board of directors of Emerson, a St. Louis-based global manufacturing and technology company, since 2012.

Mr. Levatich is known as an avid rider and an engineer, that demonstrates a clear vision for the company and talks constantly about focus and alignment and helping the organization remain clear on what it is they’re here to do.  No longer is the motor company the “voice of the executive” rather it’s the “voice of the customer.

Interestingly, Harley-Davidson has evolved from platform teams. Dyna platform, Softail platform, which was largely modeled like the automotive industry. Each platform team was competing for the next big capital investment so they could say now it’s Dyna’s turn to have a major refresh. Or now it’s Softail’s turn. Or now it’s Touring’s turn.  And that doesn’t exist anymore.

In an interview with Cycle World Mr. Levatich stated: “We’re not really in the business of manufacturing motorcycles. We’re in the business of building customers.”  

Keith Wandell

Keith Wandell —  hired from Johnson Controls to serve as Harley-Davidson President/CEO in 2009 — retired May 1, 2015 — only 6-years later.

Credited for leading Harley-Davidson back to profitability by cutting jobs and making its production more efficient he transformed manufacturing through a restructuring plan that generated more than $300 million in annual savings.

Mr. Wandell cut millions of dollars in costs and eliminated several thousand jobs in the manufacturing plants. He brought a sense of urgency to the company, saying he did not want it to be like General Motors and the auto industry that had fallen into deep trouble.

Under his leadership, Harley made significant gains in reaching new customers through growth in international markets and sales to “outreach” segments in the U.S., including young adults, women, African-Americans and Hispanics.  Mr. Wandell also was credited with stoking excitement for a planned electric bike, called Project LiveWire.

Mr. Wandell has been the Non-Executive Chairman of Dana Incorporated since October 27, 2016 and served as its Interim Chairman from September 9, 2016 to October 27, 2016.

James Ziemer

James Ziemer — served as President/CEO from 2005-2009.  Retired in 2009.  Mr. Ziemer is a native Milwaukeean who grew up in the neighborhood next to Harley-Davidson’s original Milwaukee factory location on the city’s west side.

He started with the motor company in 1969 as a freight elevator operator while attending the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He worked at Harley-Davidson for 40 years.  Upon earning his undergraduate degree in accounting at UWM, he joined the accounting department where he spent the majority of his career. He was named the Company’s Chief Financial Officer in 1990. In 2005, he was named President and Chief Executive Officer of Harley-Davidson.  When he retired, employees presented Mr. Ziemer with the original wood doors from the freight elevator he operated when he first was hired at Harley-Davidson.

As a sidebar, also in 2009, eleven years after being bought by Harley-Davidson, Erik Buell leaves the company to establish Erik Buell Racing.

Jeffrey L. Bleustein

Jeffrey L. Bleustein — retired as Chairman of the Board of Harley-Davidson in April 2009.  He was Chairman from December 1998 to April 25, 2009.  Previously, he served as CEO from June 1997 to April 2005.

He served at Brunswick Corp in many capacities and was President of Trihawk, Inc., a subsidiary of Harley-Davidson, 1984 to 1985. Remember Trihawks?

Mr. Bleustein was a technology consultant with American Machine and Foundry Co. (AMF).  In 1969, AMF merged with Harley-Davidson and in 1975, AMF assigned him to help reorganize Harley-Davidson engineering operations.  Led by AMA Hall of Famer Vaughn Beals Jr., and 11 other Harley-Davidson executives (including Willie G. Davidson), Bleustein helped execute an $81.5 million leveraged buyout of the company from AMF on June 16, 1981.

To commemorate the buy-back, approximately two dozen company officers, along with their wives and select motorcycle press, made a cross-country motorcycle trek from the production facilities in York, PA to Harley-Davidson’s main offices on Juneau Avenue in Milwaukee. This 900-mile independence journey was also a ride to support the Muscular Dystrophy Association, now the official charity of Harley Owners Group (HOG). The ride followed a host of ceremonies at York which included the signing of documents that marked the ownership change, and pulling the first “new Harley-Davidson” motorcycle off the assembly line. This 4-day celebration began a new chapter in the company’s “new” future.

Mr. Bleustein was responsible for notable engineering innovations which included the rubber engine mounts, redesign of the V-Twin and introduction of the Kevlar drive belts.

During Mr. Bleustein’s tenure (circa: 1998), Harley-Davidson bought Buell Motorcycle Company and named founder Eric Buell Chairman of Buell Operations. The first Buell’s hit showrooms in late 1999.

Rich Teerlink

Rich Teerlink  — served as Chairman and CEO until 1999 at Harley-Davidson until he retired.  Mr. Teerlink joined Harley-Davidson in August 1981 as CFO where he enjoyed great success over his 18-year career.  He started with the company just two months after the group of 13 Harley-Davidson managers had bought the company from its then parent company, American Machine and Foundry Co. (AMF), in a leveraged buyout.

Mr. Teerlink’s greatest accomplishment was establishing the Harley Owners Group (HOG) in 1983.  Mr. Teerlink joined the Vertex Board in 2002, and while serving on the Vertex Board, he also served on the Boards of Johnson Controls, Snap-on Tools and Quad Graphics.

Mr. Teerlink is also a notable author of More Than a Motorcycle, The Leadership Journey at Harley Davidson book.  Mr. Teerlink retired from the Vertex Board of Directors, effective February 4, 2015.

Mr. Teerlink was inducted to the AMA Motorcycle Museum Hall of Fame in 2015.  Mr. Teerlink was awarded an Honorary Degree, Doctor of Laws from Marquette University on May 22, 2005.

Vaughn L. Beals Jr.

Vaughn L. Beals Jr. — served as CEO of Harley-Davidson from 1981-1989 and as Chairman from 1981-1996.

In June 1981, it was a challenging time as American Machine and Foundry Co. (AMF) wanted to cut and run, but no one wanted to buy a company with a limited line of high-priced, obsolete products and a reputation for unreliability.  Vaughn Beals Jr., and 13-other** Harley-Davidson executives (including Willie G. Davidson), led an $81.5 million leveraged buyout of the company from American Machine and Foundry Co. (AMF).

Mr. Beals previously served as a research engineer for North American Aviation and Cummins Engine Company where he negotiated the purchase of logging equipment manufacturer Formac International as he was a minority owner and CEO.  This proved to be valuable during the AMF Harley-Davidson buyout.  He was named Harley-Davidson CEO after the buy-out option.

In 1982, the motor company won an anti-dumping judgment from the International Trade Commission (ITC). This led then-U.S. President Ronald Reagan to impose additional tariffs on imported heavyweight Japanese models, as allowed by the ITC.  The additional tariffs–45 percent on top of an existing 4.4 percent measure–were meant to decrease gradually over five years, until April 1988.

In June 1986, Harley-Davidson went public with a stock offering to raise capital to help pay off the buy-out option.  This was very successful increasing share price from $11 to $24.  Harley-Davidson  used some of the stock sale revenues to buy Holiday Rambler, a U.S. maker of recreational vehicles, for $150 million.  The Holiday Rambler sale pushed Harley-Davidson into the Fortune 500 category for the first time at number 398.  In March 1987 the company asked the ITC to remove the tariffs imposed on Japanese motorcycle imports a year earlier than scheduled.

Willie G. Davidson, V.P. Styling (Left); Vaughn Beals Jr., CEO and Charles Thompson, President (Right)

Mr. Beals was inducted to the AMA Motorcycle Museum Hall of Fame in 2008.

Charles Thompson — served as President and CEO of the restructured Harley-Davidson after American Machine and Foundry Co. (AMF) buy-out option.

Mr. Thompson was a long-time Harley-Davidson employee, well-liked throughout the motorcycle industry and served as president and CEO of the restructured company until his health failed in 1982.

William Herbert “Bill” Davidson — was president of Harley-Davidson Motorcycles from 1942 to 1971.  He was the son of William A. Davidson who quit his regular paying job with the Milwaukee Road railroad in 1903 to get into the business of making motorcycles.

William Herbert “Bill” Davidson

Bill Davidson, started working on the Harley-Davidson shop floor of the family business in 1928 after attending the University of Wisconsin.  He won the AMA National Enduro Championship in 1930 and when he wasn’t winning motorcycle races, Bill worked his way up through the company, becoming a foreman, manager of many departments, and finally president of Harley-Davidson in 1942.

In 1963, Bill brought in his son William Godfrey Davidson (Willie G.) on to head up the styling department of the company. Willie G. would end up creating some of the company’s more popular designs, including the legendary Low Rider and the Super Glide which was inspired by the ideas of bike customizers.

In 1965 Harley-Davidson went public as the two families decided to give up control and put the company’s shares on the market.

In 1969, Harley-Davidson was bought by American Machine and Foundry Co. (AMF), a leisure equipment manufacturer.  The arrangement proved, at least initially, to be a good one for Harley-Davidson, for it was in the mid-1960s that the company experienced its first real competition after Indian went out of business. The financial resources and stability that AMF was able to provide helped the company battle Japanese motorcycle manufacturers, who had begun exporting their vehicles around the world, placing themselves in direct competition with Harley-Davidson.

Bill stayed on as president under the control of AMF reporting to it’s then current chairman and CEO Rodney C. Gott (Mr. Gott served as AMF president, starting in 1962, and chairman and chief executive, from 1968. He retired in 1978).  Mr. Gott was a Harley-Davidson rider and big motorcycle fan.  As a sidebar: In World War II, Mr. Gott was a decorated veteran who served in Gen. George S. Patton’s Third Army and on the staff of Gen. Lesley James McNair, chief of ground forces, and was also commander of the 79th Infantry Division Artillery.

In 1971, Bill Davidson was made Harley-Davidson chairman, but reported that he had little power while under AMF’s control.  It was noted that he was chairman of the Harley-Davidson board that never met.  Conflicts with AMF’s strategy and chaotic market conditions led to Bill Davidson’s resignation in 1973.

It was a period of high CEO turnover at Harley-Davidson.  During this time, AMF named John O’Brian and then Gus Davis as president, marking the first time someone other than a Davidson would sit in the company presidents chair.  Other Harley and Davidson family members continued on at the company under AMF’s ownership.  Bill Davidson’s son John was vice president of Sales, and then moved up to become president after Gus Davis.  William J. Harley was engineering vice president until his death in 1971.  His brother John Harley remained at the company until his death in 1976 as the last Harley at Harley-Davidson.

In 1975, AMF put Vaughn Beals Jr. at the head of Harley-Davidson, and Jeff Bleustein was named chief engineer. Bleustein was charged with making manufacturing improvements, which had  become increasingly necessary as production grew and quality declined.  A limited line of high-priced products and a reputation for unreliable motorcycles marked this timeframe in history.  AMF began to lose interest in keeping the struggling motorcycle business afloat.

Rodney C. Gott (Left) and John Davidson, President Harley-Davidson

In a bit of irony, (circa: 09/1977), the motor company unveiled a motorcycle museum in York, PA., that was named after AMF’s CEO — Rodney C. Gott Motorcycle Museum.  A video HERE.

In June 1981, to save the company, and to effect a turnaround, thirteen Harley-Davidson executives, led by Vaughn Beals Jr., put together a plan for a leveraged management buyout. With the financial support of Citicorp, the management team succeeded in taking control of Harley-Davidson from AMF on June 16, 1981, at a cost of $81.5 million.

The role of the new officers after the company buy-out option included: Charles Thompson, president and chief operating officer; Jack Hamilton, Chris Sartalis, Jim Paterson, Kurt Woerpel, Peter Profumo, Jeffrey Bleustein, Thomas Gelb, William Davidson, and Tim Hoelter, all vice presidents. The president of the various divisions were: John Davidson, golf; David Caruso, parts and accessories; Ralph Swenson, York; and David Lickerman, Harley-Davidson International.

Even though he was no longer actively involved with the company, Bill Davidson lived to see the renewal and success that Harley-Davidson enjoyed starting in the late-1980s.

Bill Davidson died in 1993.  He was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Museum Hall of Fame in 1999.

Walter Davidson — was president from 1907 to 1942.  Bill Harley was chief engineer and treasurer. Author Davidson is secretary and general sales manager and William A. Davidson is the works manager.

In 1936, six sons of the founders are working at Harley-Davidson.  Walter Davidson’s sons Gordon and Walter C.; and William Davidson’s sons, William Herbert “Bill” and Allan; and Bill Harley’s sons, William J. and John.

In 1942 from his death bed,  Walter Davidson named his nephew William Herbert “Bill” Davidson as president and his own eldest son Gordon, as vice president of manufacturing.

Historical Principal H-D Subsidiaries: Holiday Rambler Corporation; Utilmaster Corporation; B&B Molders; Creative Dimensions; Nappanee Wood Products.

Article References:

Vaughn Beals Jr. – Wikipedia
Growing Up Harley-Davidson – Jean Davidson
Harvard Business Review – Harley Leadership U-Turn
Jeffrey Bleustein – Wikipedia
The Morning Call – Harley Is A Classic Turnaround Story
Rodney C. Gott Obituary
Gus Davis Obituary
Cycle World Magazine – Interview with CEO, Matthew S. Levatich
Cycle World Magazine – Rodney C. Gott Motorcycle Museum
Chicago Tribune – The Real Harley-Davidson Story
James Ziemer – Northwest Harley Blog
People – Buy Back Article
Rick Barrett – Journal Sentinel

Harley-Davidson (Buyout) Management Team

**The Harley-Davidson managers post buy-out option: left to right standing: John Hamilton, Dr. Jeffrey Bleustein, Kurt Woerpel, Chstopher Sartalis, and William G. Davidson.  Left to right, seated: James Peterson, Timothy Hoelter, David Lickerman, Peter Profumo, David Caruso, Ralph Swenson, Charles Thompson, and Vaughn Beals Jr.

 

Photos courtesy of Harley-Davidson

All Rights Reserved (C) Northwest Harley Blog

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HD-CrowdMany riders are on the road and in route to the Sturgis Rally.

If you rushed out of the garage before finalizing a list of things to do while in S.D., below is a list of activities Harley-Davidson will be rolling out for rally attendees.

The 2015 models will not be launched at Sturgis.  Last year the motor company started a new trend of  introducing the new model line up during the 3rd week of August after all the press/media noise subsides post-Sturgis and they can garner more mind share.

3rd & Lazelle Street, Downtown Sturgis, SD
Saturday through Saturday, August 2-9, 9am – 5pm

  • Stunt Show – 3 times daily (10am, 1pm, & 4pm) Produced by Ill Conduct Team
  • H.O.G. Rally Point – Join Tina, Thor and other H-D staff in the H.O.G. area. Pick up your FREE event Pin, join the club or renew your membership.  Plus, August 2-8 all H.O.G.® members + one guest are welcome to join us in the H.O.G area  from 3:00pm – 5:00pm for live entertainment, complimentary samples of our new H-D Road House Meats and beer samples.
  • Willie G. ® and H.O.G.® Commemorative Merchandise – You can’t buy it at home! Stop by to purchase exclusive Sturgis 2014 clothing.
  • Genuine Harley-Davidson® Parts & Accessories Display – the latest Harley® models equipped with the full line of custom Parts & Accessories. Check out our 12 fully accessorized bikes!
  • 2014 H-D® Motorcyle LineupCheck out the 2014 bikes, including NEW customized Street motorcycles, RUSHMORE bikes, the Low Rider® and the SuperLow®1200T.
  • Women’s Area – Rebel One hosts the JUMPSTART® Rider Experience and Bike Lift Seminars on how to properly lift a dropped motorcycle. Enter the sweepstakes to win a FREE Riding Academy course or Rental.
  • Weber® Mobile Grill Academy – Get a first-hand look at Weber grills and accessories; Weber Experts will be there to answer any questions you may have about grills, grilling techniques, recipes, and all things grilling!  Join the Weber Family by signing up for Weber Nation and you will be entered to win a Weber Genesis gas grill.
  • Craftsman® Garage Station – Come for a free oil fill-up and tire pressure check! Stay and watch our artists sculpt, paint, and engrave. Take home a cool new design on your bike helmet or a personalized engraving on a free Craftsman cap wrench.
  • Free Bike Wash – Wash away all the Black Hills dust and dirt at the free bike wash from 9am – 4pm. Just bring a dirty bike and a little elbow grease.
  • MDA will sell event pins and host a bike raffle. Enter to win a black 2014 Street Glide!
  • Visa will offer Visa Card membership application and free giveaways to all applicants!

Black Hills Harley-Davidson
2820 Harley Dr.
I-90 Exit 55, Rapid City, SD
Saturday through Saturday, August 2-9, 9am – 5pm

  • Harley-Davidson ® Motorcycle Test Rides – Take a FREE test ride on a 2014 Harley-Davidson® motorcycle, including our new RUSHMORE bikes, LowRider® and SuperLow® 1200T. Come early and ride as many bikes as you want. All riders must have a valid motorcycle license and adhere to riding gear requirements and safety rules.  Demo registration will close at 4:00pm daily.
  • 2014 H-D® Motorcycle Lineup – Check out the 2014 bikes
  • Harley-Davidson® Motorclothes® – Try on our new jackets – even take them for a test ride! All items will be available for immediate purchase.
  • H-D1 Fit Shop – Come experience the feel of a more comfortable, safer ride. Stop by the H-D1 Fit Shop and find your perfect seat and handlebar combination.

Featured Activities:

  • Sunday, August 3 – “Weber® Big Burger Battle Cook-Off” competition. Come to the Weber® display at 3rd and Lazelle St. to watch pre-selected finalists compete in a cook-off!
  • Tuesday, August 5 – The 6th Annual Women’s Biker Belles Ride and celebration sponsored by Harley-Davidson®. Visit www.bikerbelles.com to register and for more information.
  • Wednesday, August 6 – “Weber® How to Grill a Perfect Burger” hands-on grilling class exclusively for H.O.G members led by Weber® Grill Expert, Kelsey Heidikamp.  Classes offered at the Weber® display at 3rd and Lazelle St. at 11:45am, 1:30pm, and 3:15pm. To participate, please send your name, cell phone number, H.O.G. number and preferred class time to HandsOnGrilling@harley-davidson.com. Space is limited so sign up soon! Sign up ends Friday, August 1.

Photo courtesy of H-D.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Willie G. Celeb Chair

Willie G. Celeb Chair

It’s that time of year where charities try to rise above the steady drum beat of donation noise. 

It got me thinking about Harley-Davidson and MDA’s challenge to garner more rider attention and the ever important donations.  Then wham, this idea came to me…!

For the first time ever, what if you could spend a day or weekend with Willie G. and his friends in some unique place? Let’s call it the Willie G. Experience and it’s your exclusive opportunity to have a personal experience with your friends and the world’s most famous motorcycle figure to benefit MDA as you live it.  Willie G. is a veritable legend, with more cred than most music stars.  He doesn’t need the money, which is why he’s diligent in donating it to charity.

Below I’ve developed some package/donation choices for Willie G. to consider:

Willie G.

Willie G.

Phone Call Package – $2000.00 Donation to MDA:   One signed complete Sportster fuel tank and a phone call from Willie G.  Ask him anything. Tell him a story. Or just chit chat about your day… it’s up to you. Willie G. can also change your outgoing message on your voicemail.  Limit of 10 packages.

Lunch and Demo Package – $10,000.00 Donation to MDA:  You and 3 other people are invited to lunch and a demo ride session at H-D world headquarters, complete with a tour of the facilities. This will take place on a mutually agreeable date. This package also includes two complete Sportster fuel tanks. Your group will join up to 12 other individuals for this experience.  Each member of the group will receive a hand drawn motorcycle on a scrap piece of paper from the marketing design center where Willie G. works.

Happiest VIP On Earth Package – $25,000.00 Donation to MDA:  You and Willie G. spend the day at Disneyland with a VIP escort, meaning that you breeze to the front of every line. You will not believe how many rides you can hit in one day, and won’t have to wait for a table wherever you choose to eat. You can even have a “themed” H-D party if you want to do it up big. And you can try to beat Willie G. at Toy Story Mania. If you don’t succeed, we’ll just get right back on it. We’ll finish the day with dinner at Disney’s Club 33. This package also includes a signed complete Tri-Glide model fuel tank.

LA Harley Xperience Package  – $35,000.00 Donation to MDA:   I’ll pick you up at LAX on my 150hp Tri-Glide and we will visit cliché tourist spots (Hollywood sign, Sunset Blvd, Venice Beach, etc.) on our way to the motorcycle drag races. You will then have VIP passes to see any and all drag events or just sit in the press booth with me and a Peter Fonda look-a-like while I commentate the competition. Dinner is included at Sushi Nozawa, Matsuhisa or try some blowfish at The Hump… or we can get the true LA Paparazzi experience at Koi. This package also includes two replica signed “Captain America” fuel tanks.

VegasVegas, Baby, Vegas Package – $45,000.00 Donation to MDA:  We’ll fly from Milwaukee, WI — via private jet (yes, a private jet) to Vegas two nights before the MDA charity ride. Dinner at Simon (prepared by Kerry Simon himself), ride the NYNY rollercoaster (not necessarily in that order), play blackjack at a private table or we can hit Gameworks and play every arcade game known to man. Suite at Wynn included for three nights, then VIP passes to a mystery dinner event on Saturday.  Then we’ll return by private jet to Milwaukee on Sunday. This package also includes a H-D leather vest with H.O.G. logo and one signed complete Sportster model fuel tank.

Willie G. Bike

Willie G. Bike

Milwaukee Family Day Package – $75,000.00 Donation to MDA:  You’ll come to my house and I will make cinnamon rolls for breakfast, then swimming in the backyard with me, Nancy and the grand-kids. From there we will hit Miller Brewing and my boys can show you all the coolest stuff in the “park.” Lunch at nearby Famous Dave’s, then come back to my place and play Xbox 360 games or guitar, then dinner at Maders. Taking the dogs out for a walk throughout the day is optional. We can also take the ’64 Panhead out for a cruise if I can get it started. This package also includes 3 signed complete Sportster model fuel tanks.

To make it easy people could pay for the Willie G. experience via a cashier’s check, wire transfer, credit card or PayPal.  And, your payment (after expenses) will constitute a donation to MDA and you’ll receive a letter acknowledging the portion of your payment that constitutes a contribution. 

Crazy idea?  Sure.  But what if there is a motorcycle enthusiast who loves ALL access to celeb’s and will think this is the ultimate fantasy?  Schmoozing with the famous…. like one night with your favorite rock star!  What’s that worth?  And with a donation tie in to the MDA charity, priceless?!  

Photos courtesy of H-D and ACM Awards.

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MDAMark your calendar.  The fourth annual MDA Hope Ride will be held Saturday, August 1st for the Portland, Or area.

The event will start at the I-5 Baldock Southbound rest area (mile post 282) which is just past the Carbonneau/Canby exit and will end at the Chinook Winds Casino in Lincoln City.

The event is sponsored by MDAColumbia Harley-DavidsonParadise Harley-Davidson, Latus Motors Harley-Davidson and Salem Harley-Davidson. The event is also supported by PDXTV and the Harley Owner Groups (H.O.G). Once riders arrive at Chinook Winds there will be a BBQ, awards and prize drawings.

This MDA event helps fight against neuromuscular disease. A great charitable cause!

Photo courtesy of MDA.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Luke Christe

Luke Christe

I wanted to give a shout-out to the top northwest Harley dealers (and individuals) who helped raise significant funds for MDA

MDA is a voluntary health agency working to defeat muscular dystrophy and related diseases through programs of worldwide research, comprehensive patient and community services and public health education.  Harley-Davidson is a national sponsor and the top northwest dealers are:

$25,000 or more

Skagit Harley-Davidson Burlington, WA

$50,000 or more

Latus Motors Harley-Davidson Gladstone, OR

Downtown Harley-Davidson Tukwila, WA

Shumate Harley-Davidson Spokane, WA

At the 105th Anniversary Celebration there were a number of activities which raised awareness and funds to support this cause.  The pledges really added up and with 77.4 percent of every dollar MDA spends going directly to research, services and education, the rest to fund raising and administration it’s putting the $$ to good work.  If you missed out and wanted to donate you can do so HERE.

Photo courtesy HD and Peter Reitzfeld

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Miller Park

Miller Park

The Club H.O.G. 25th celebration started Thursday, August 28th at Miller Park Stadium (home of the Milwaukee Brewers).  Free for H.O.G. members the day-long celebration was prior to the start of the 105th Anniversary event.

We departed about 9:30am to get a jump on the day and drove the twenty minutes which came to an abrupt stop on the Interstate near the stadium exit.  Surprise, there’s a huge traffic jam! 

H.O.G. Director

H.O.G. Director

Not knowing exactly what or where we were headed…the delay due to poor traffic control wasn’t obvious until after we got parked in the stadium lot.  Once parked, we waited in a long line that took approx 35 minutes to get into the refreshments and concert area.  Within an hour it became obvious that it was going to be a “sardine packed” day and the heat/humidity was increasing.  The State Police lined I-94 and started controlling access to the exit having people go around the stadium and come in from an alternative direction.  I’ve never seen so many motorcycles let alone so many Harley’s.  Incredible!

DB Bryant Band

DB Bryant Band

While we were in line we made some new friends and shared stories of the open road.   The camaraderie of standing in line meant we all got to chat with H.O.G. members from around the world.   Many seemed surprised we rode out from the Northwest rather than trailer.

Capitol HD Plant

Capitol HD Plant

As the day progressed all you could hear was the low drone of exhaust and see a constant stream of motorcycles snaking their way into Miller Park. Wow, the place was packed! I’d be remiss not saying there was excitement building. Space presented some challenges, but people were laughing, hugging, joking, and having an overall good time. We let the DB Bryant Band rock us for a while with their cool sounds.

Milwaukee HD

Milwaukee HD

Our group wanted to experience some more of the culture that Milwaukee had to offer, so we left for awhile to enjoy some authentic Harley dealer activity in one of the historic neighborhoods and we dropped in on Hal’s (New Berlin).  We did a drive by of manufacturing plant on Capitol Drive (Wauwatosa) where the powertrain operations are located.

I was told that H.O.G. distributed 250,000 pins and ran out in under four hours.  Wow!

H.O.G. Wall of Ink

H.O.G. Wall of Ink

We headed back to the stadium as it was getting time for Kid Rock.  First off we had to sit through introductions of Jim Ziemer (CEO), H.O.G. executives, MDA spoke person (Luke Christie) and Willie G along with his family.  I’m not sure where they all were prior to the speech, but 3 of the 5 people from Harley-Davidson who spoke were nearly DRUNK…their words slurred and barely understandable.  Willie G went off on some motorcycle story about Harley HYPHEN Davidson…reminding everyone that he had the last name in the motor company’s name….odd, very odd rant.  His son (Michael) did a nice job of interrupting the word slur rant of Willie G. and tried to make some sense of the family business and his passion for making the best motorcycles in the world.

Kid Rock

Kid Rock

Back to Kid Rock and man did he rock the crowd.  People lined the entrances excited to see this dude perform. The songs from his new CD (not on iTunes!) are dam good.  “All Summer Long” is terrific, but the live version of “Half Your Age” is one of my favorites.  The crowd was the biggest sea of people I’ve ever experienced at a concert standing at stage level.  The folks at H.O.G. thought ahead to have the jumbo-tron viewing screens under the beer garden tent and in the food vendor areas. It definitely allowed more people to enjoy the headline act.  Word is that Kid Rock is getting set to roll out his own beer and cigar brand.

All told, I thought it was one great day packed with a whole lot of fun and it was a really cool place to be. Great job H.O.G.!

Interested to know more about our “Ride Home”?  Read the road blogs for: Day 1 HERE, Day 2 HERE, Day 3 HERE, Day 4 HERE and Day 5 HERE.

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SpaceX - Falcon 1 Launch

SpaceX - Falcon 1 Launch

Earlier this week SpaceX (Space Exploration Technologies Corp.) was chartered to send James “Scotty” Doohan (of Star Trek fame) and 207 other peoples ashes into space, but the rocket disintegrated shortly after launch shooting its payload into the Pacific ocean.  SpaceX founder and CEO, Elon Musk, was quoted saying, “Neither stage exploded,”…”They just got a little bit cooked“.  That’s sensitive considering the families of the departed paid between $995 to $5,300 for the space sendoff which was arranged by Houston-based Space Services Inc. and I’m sure that’s what they had in mind – NOT!

You might be asking at this point what’s the motorcycle connection?  Well Scotty received an honorary engineer degree from Harley-Davidson’s home town university Milwaukee School of Engineering.

But, back to SpaceX who was founded in June 2002 by Elon Musk the co-founder of PayPal.  He created SpaceX to help make “humanity a space faring civilization”.  The company is HQ in Hawthorne, CA with engine and structural testing done in McGregor, TX.  However, the space launch facilities are based in the Marshall Islands, specifically the Kwajalein Atoll on Omelek Island

Kwajalein Island

Kwajalein Island

In certain military circles it’s know as the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Site.  The Kwajalein Atoll is part of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and a premiere asset within the Department of Defense Major Range and Test Facility Base. The unquestioned value is based upon its strategic geographical location, unique instrumentation, and unsurpassed capability to support ballistic missile testing and space operations.  Unknown to most people is they have successfully completed multiple flight tests of the ground-based midcourse defense (GMD) program which has intercepted intercontinental ballistic missile targets.  Some refer to this as “Star Wars” research.

I happen to know a bit about “Kwaj” having lived, worked on the island and flown in/out of Bucholz Army Airfield.  It was routine to observe ballistic missile targets launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base with interceptors being launched down range from Kwaj.  All of the intercept testing is done at an altitude 140 miles above earth, so we only observed launch exhaust “streaks” over the Pacific Ocean in the Western Test Range.

You can read more on the military environmental impact of using Omelek Island as the launch facility HERE (pdf).

Scotty may you make it to space and RIP.

 

Falcon 1 launch courtesy SpaceX

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