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pink_slipI’m fascinated by the decline or some might say the “fallout” of the Harley-Davidson management team.

HD announced a couple days ago that effective immediately the CFO, Tom Bergmann was leaving the company.  Labeling the hasty departure with the all too familiar and politically correct words; “seeking other career opportunities” to describe his abrupt exit.   Mr. Bergmann had been CFO since 2006 and in January 2009 it was announced he would take on the additional responsibility as president of Harley-Davidson Financial Services (HDFS) after Sy Naqvi’s sudden departure.  So it’s rather odd that on the very first day that the new CEO, Keith Wendell comes to work Mr. Bergmann would choose it as the most optimal time to leave?! 

I smell “Mr. Clean”… and I even provided Keith a 10-step success plan, but forcing out the CFO in the first 8 hours on the job was not on the list!

On the day of his departure, Tom had just completed a transaction that would provide about $1B in funding capacity that the company could use for consumer lending in 2009. The new funding was important, since the firm finances roughly one of every two HD motorcycle purchases.  HDFS increased the size of an existing $500 million asset-backed commercial paper conduit facility to up to $1.2B, based on the level of outstanding receivables. The facility expires April 29, 2010.  In addition, Tom negotiated to have replaced a 364-day, $950M bank credit facility expiring July 31 with a new 364-day, $625M credit facility expiring April 29, 2010. Together, the two agreements provide additional available credit of up to approximately $375M over the term of the agreements for the lending activities of HDFS. 

Getting the funding covered is a monkey off their back and a fairly impressive accomplishment to tell the new boss on day #1, but to turn around and say “Hasta la vista, baby”…I’m outta here.  WTF?  Whether Mr. Bergmann was run off the road or decided no more black leather, but instead it’s time for touring suits with leg guards and time to gear-up for a sound different than a low rumble…we’ll never know.

The HD press release stated that Controller John Olin would serve as interim CFO at the company.  Bergmann also served as President of Harley-Davidson Financial Services (HDFS) and Treasurer Perry Glassgow would take over on an interim basis.  Lastly it named Mark Kornetzke, senior director of financial reporting, as the company’s chief accounting officer.

Photo courtesy Henny Ray Abrams/Reuters.

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I dreamt about blog comments last night.  Indeed I need a good night’s sleep.  The bad dream went something like this…

Fulfilling Dreams:  Mac, you are an amateur, arrogant, vindictive little brat who has irreparably damaged the Harley-Davidson brand and soiled the reputation of motorcycle journalism as a whole. Not only are you as inarticulate as a child raised by wolves, but you know virtually nothing about the biker industry that you attempt to cover–a few weeks back, while you were sleeping off yet another of your many benders, your helper monkey ghost-wrote the blog in your place, and several readers remarked that it was the most coherent and insightful posts of the Northwest Harley Blog in months. It’s a shame your helper monkey didn’t return to write more columns.  Signed: Jim Ziemer (H-D CEO)

Whew, glad it was a dream.  Yep, I’m an amateur blogger.  Amateur being defined as ZERO income generated from the site. Zero revenue is by design.  This blog is a hobby centered around motorcycle passions and a dislike of advertisements.  I truly despise sites that have rolling ads prior to content, or flashy-blinky-things detracting me or a link feast of ads.   In my mind having a focus on generating revenue changes behavior.  Aspirations of a “dollar-per-word” gig…would drive a vicious cycle of attracting eye-balls and the lure of becoming “rich-n-famous”.  Sure there comes a time when the enticement of publishing AdSense links or using a lot of affiliate programs makes a person stop and take pause…one Mississippi, two Mississippi…then you realize it’s less about Google pennies and more about blog visibility. 

Speaking of visibility, web syndication is basically a form of print syndication or duplicating website material and making it available to multiple other sites. Blog syndication is the use of your blog’s RSS feed to deliver your blog’s content to other blogs, feed readers and aggregators.  There are many “no-goodnics” or hackers with questionable aggregation sites that have created syndication services explicitly to drive AdSense revenue.  However there are only a few reputable sites who service the mainstream media.  BlogBurst is one of those companies who give publishers access to the best of the blogosphere.

Recently the Northwest Harley blog received approval for syndication which means that content will be place on top-tier online media destinations like Reuters, USA Today, Gannett, McGraw-Hill and Fox News.  In fact, here is a post that received broader distribution on the Reuters site.  The original post is HERE.

Who knows, but maybe this will even change Mr. Ziemer’s viewpoint …in my dreams?

Screen scrap courtesy of Reuters.

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