Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Plant Closure’

HSC55In June, Honda celebrated the 50th anniversary of its arrival in the U.S.  I posted an article on the event HERE.

Sadly, this week Honda re-confirmed in the Tokyo Nikkei, its intent to indeed wind down the U.S. motorcycle production due to declining demand.  The closure this month ends a 30 year run of motorcycle production in the U.S.  Honda launched U.S. production in 1979 and was the first among Japanese firms to make motorcycles in North America.  The plant in Marysville, Ohio produced the Gold Wing, a heavy-weight class 1,800cc touring bike, and had an annual output capacity of about 70,000 units.

1963_AdHonda launched its first overseas subsidiary in the U.S. on June 11, 1959.  Honda bought an old photo studio in Los Angeles and sent its associates off in Chevy pickups to pitch their bikes to local hardware stores and motorcycle shops.  The lead products were the Dream, Benly, and Super Cub (called the Honda 50, in the U.S.).  An ad campaign and slogan “You meet the nicest people on a Honda” reshaped how Americans looked at motorcycles and by 1968 Honda had become the bestselling motorcycle with sales exceeding a million.

Honda quickly followed up and entered the U.S. car market in 1969, selling a handful of its tiny sedans in Hawaii before launching on the mainland in 1970.  The oil crisis of 1973-1974 helped put the company on the minds of all Americans.  Honda became the first Asian automaker to set up production in the U.S., with the first motorcycle rolling off the Ohio assembly line Sept. 10, 1979, and the first car built Nov. 1, 1982.  In 1988 Honda began exporting the U.S.-built Accord to Japan ending any debate as to doubts as to whether quality standards could be maintained.

We’ve witness the American motorcycle market shrink to 1.32 million units in 2008, down almost 30% from a peak of 1.79 million units in 2005. Honda’s Q1’09 net income plummeted 95% and motorcycle/ATV units were down 32% from a year ago.  We’ve seen dismal financial results from Harley-Davidson too.

Affordability is a strong theme with motorcycle manufactures these days and Honda seems to prosper in difficult times.  They’ve concluded that the advantages of local motorcycle production have faded and will now export products from Japan to the U.S. market instead.  Despite the closure, its worldwide motorcycle business is fairly solid and they are boosting production in regions where demand is growing, mainly in Asia.

Photo’s courtesy of Honda archives.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog
Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Or_SummaryI decided to write Harley-Davidson and personally shout out that they are welcome and the state is open for business!  The letter is below.

Mr. Keith E. Wandell

President and CEO

Harley-Davidson, Inc.

Milwaukee, WI 53201

 

Dear Mr. Wandell:

After reading Senators Arlen Specter and Bob Casey letters on the potential York plant closure I wanted to let you know there is something about Oregon that ignites poetic inspiration, even among the most level-headed business types of your stature.

I could wax on about you (after you get a valid motorcycle license) and your executive team riding motorcycles in the spectacular Cascades, the dreamy coastal towns and rich farmlands of the Willamette Valley, but it’s really about America’s best kept secret…the quality of life.  Oregon has it in spades.

You may know us as the “Silicon Forest” when in the 80’s and 90’s the chip manufactures fled the high cost of California.  The state provided deep tax breaks and the suburbs were attractive to technology workers who could afford a far better quality of life in terms of schools and housing.  The tax breaks (although no longer as deep) have been extended to an increasingly dominate green movement and ever increasing public sector.  Did you know we were the first state in the union to pass a nickel “tax” on bottles and it’s been nothing but rainbows and butterflies ever since. 

Rain?  Don’t let visitors discourage you about the rain.  It’s rare, but when it occurs it’s more like mist.  And with more and more of us working in the solar panel industry we smile at the rain.  And don’t forget the trendy places like Portland’s Pearl District where the York plant management “sophistos” can sashay into all the charming restaurants from high priced condo’s.  You’ll find java beans with extra whip for the chauffer driven commutes along with Northwest brew pubs to sample the hops late into the night.

Sure we’ve been hit by the debilitating housing addiction like all other states after the California bubble collapsed and they stopped buying homes, but the best part is the spectacular vacation home market in the high-desert of Bend amid the volcanic peaks in the center of the state.  We now have record low prices and high availability where many of the H-D execs will want to relax after a long work week.

And speaking of talent, Oregonian’s are here for a reason and it’s not because of the left-leaning lifestyle.  It’s a great jump point in preparation for H-D’s future plans across the Pacific in China.  For example in the 90’s there were many manufactures that thrived in the state — printers, DVD players, digital projectors, memory chips, etc., — who moved to Asia as those sectors matured and profit margins evaporated, sending production to the places in China where labor costs are lowest.  We’re fully aware of this phenomena and would not be alarmed by such a move should H-D look to reduce the cost structure even more.

As you weigh various options and consider the long-term competitiveness of Harley-Davidson, I strongly urge you to give serious consideration to any option that will move the 2,000 jobs at stake to Oregon.  Don’t let the Governor, “Lazy-Ted”, distract you about hybrid technology.  He’s a short timer and spends much of his day looking for electrical outlets.  But, for the record here is the Oregon Economic Summary  (.pdf) for your review.  So, do the unexpected and create additional market buzz for the motorcycle company.  Create a new Harley-Davidson presence in the Northwest region….your gateway to China!

Sincerely,

Mac — Editor, Northwest Harley Blog

I’m thinking he’ll respond.  What do you think?

Photo courtesy State of Oregon.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: