Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘York Plant’

It could be the title of Harley-Davidson CEO, Matt Levatich’s memoir on his failed 2017 year while in charge of the Motor Company.

I happen to be riding with the HOG Lewis and Clark Expedition last week when Harley-Davidson announced their disappointing Q2’17 financial results and late to weigh in:

* Harley-Davidson net income dropped 7.7%. Sales in the U.S. were down 9.3% and 6.7% worldwide.

* Harley-Davidson now expects to ship 241,000 to 246,000 motorcycles to dealers worldwide in 2017, which is down approximately 6% to 8% from 2016.

* Harley-Davidson expects to ship 39,000 to 44,000 motorcycles in Q3’17, which is down approximately 10% to 20% from 2016.

* Approx 180 U.S. based manufacturing jobs will be cut in Menomonee Falls and Kansas City.  This in addition to the 118 workers who were axed back in April this year at the York plant as some positions were being shifted to Kansas City.

For those keeping track, this is a continuation of a three-year slide by the motor company.  However, during the call Mr. Levatich described what can only be called an “alternative reality” in hopes (I assume?) to reassure the financial markets and stated “we are going to build bikers first, add 2 million new Harley-Davidson riders and launch 100 brand new models during the next 10 years while growing the international business by 50%.

Huh?

I’m being a bit snarky here, but his statement appears either woefully naïve to the point of negligence or a continuance of marketing spin.  Proclaiming an unprecedented future result of this magnitude smells like stunningly wishful thinking at best or at worst plain lying.  For reasons I can’t explain, why would Mr. Levatich climb up on a high-wire without a net given such an overly-optimistic prediction?  Even with nearly 8-million Americans that are “sleeping license holders,” — those who have motorcycle riding credentials, but don’t own a bike — it doesn’t pencil and seems unobtainable.

I don’t know if the boardroom folks in Milwaukee read the NW Harley Blog on a regular basis and/or  hang on its every word.  But, we know the motor company has been continuously producing motorcycles for more than a century,  yet seemingly everyone on the internet with a keyboard thinks they can do it better.

And it’s a well-established fact that internet bloggers and commenters are geniuses. They definitely know how to run a business better than a company that has been constantly producing motorcycles through two world wars, the Great Depression, and roughly 20 U.S. recessions.

Sure the motor company needs our help and I’ve got some feedback and plenty of comments.  But, until the motor company calls me asking for it, I’ll look for Mr. Levatich’s memoir, which will certainly be “a deeply intimate account and a cautionary tale on the world’s most iconic motorcycle brand.

Slightly modified book cover courtesy of Simon & Schuster.

All Rights Reserved (C) Northwest Harley Blog

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Flexible-WorkersWe read everyday how the economy is ever so slowly improving and there was some good news this week for the long-term unemployed.

According to news reports the motor company is hiring 400 temporary workers as part of a seasonal surge in production at the assembly plant in York, Pa.

York is where Harley-Davidson assembles heavy weight motorcycles.   You might recall the widely publicized dispute with the union a few years ago that allowed them to use “casual” workers to do some of the production work at all their existing plants.  A “casual” worker is a temp worker, not employed year ’round, to manage temporary high volume.

According to Harley spokeswoman Bernadette Lauer the jobs start at the end of January and run through the end of May with salaries ranging from $16.75 to $23.30 per hour.  To apply or request to be contacted visit H-Dflexibleworkforce.com.

Harley’s revenues are still well below their pre-crisis highs, but they get credit for revenues and unit sales which have enjoyed a nice bounce over the last year and there is new swagger in the brand.

Photo courtesy of H-D.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

Meetings.  Talking.  Meetings.

We’re always being reminded that political leaders, policymakers and industry leaders are “gathering” to hash out ideas on how to get the mojo back and what the key is to unlocking innovations and jobs of the future.  We’re suppose to feel good, but from my vantage there is little visible in the way of action.

The White House has made a quiet but extensive effort to reach out to corporate executives in a series of dinners and lunches at the White House with President Barack Obama.  Attendees have largely been kept secret or at minimum very quiet… until now!

Politico.com states Keith Wandell (Harley-Davidson CEO) had dinner with Obama’s chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and other top White House officials.  Another comprehensive list is available HERE.  It’s not clear if it was at an off-site local restaurant or something more elegant in the White House.  Given the state-of-the-states, I seriously doubt the motor company will be creating any new jobs soon. In fact, the recent ratified agreement calls for a drawdown of nearly 50% of the employee’s base at the York, PA operations.  Asia or India look like expansion alternatives and I suspect it won’t be long before we hear about plants being set up there.  So, what did Mr. Wandell share w/ the White House chief of staff?  Would H-D coming to the government to offer ideas on how they can help be a startling conversation changer?  Does H-D have eyes and ears on future trends that they can grab and then be able to exploit?

I’m not sure, but do you think the U.S. is still the world’s center for innovation, or is it falling behind countries such as India and China?  Fueling the debate is a new poll on innovation published by Newsweek. One interesting finding: while 82% of Chinese citizens believe the U.S. remains a technologically innovative country, only 74% of Americans feel the same way.

At any rate,  the other industry officials who joined Mr. Wandell at the June 16, Rahm Emanuel dinner were:

Penny Pritzker, CEO, Pritzker Realty
Mark Gallogly of Centerbridge Partners
Mike Fascitelli, CEO, Vornado Realty Trust
Klaus Kleinfeld, CEO, Alcoa
Dave O’Reilly, CEO, Chevron
Richard Smith, CEO, Realogy
Mike Ullman, CEO, J.C. Penney
Keith Wandell, CEO, Harley Davidson

I’m not attacking or implying that only favor-curriers are “sitting at the presidents table” but I’m not reading a lot about how the voice of the average lower and middle class American are being heard.  As the White House National Economic Council Director Lawrence Summers has recently urged attendees at these dinners to “think about what your institution should be called on to do, not in its own interest, but in the broader national interest.”

Photo courtesy of Presidential inauguration.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

H-D announced a recall order that according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) could affect up to 111,569 motorcycles.

Touring motorcycles are manufactured in York County, PA at the Springettsbury Township plant which has been under a lot of pressure to ratify a new labor agreement.  More information HERE on the approval of that agreement.  In addition, H-D announced this week that effective December 16, 2009 Ed Magee would be general manager of the plant replacing Fred Gates who will retire in 2010.

The NHTSA Campaign ID number is 09V457000 and the component effected is the gasoline storage tank assembly/mounting.  The front fuel tank mounts may distort in reaction to severe frame damage from a frontal collision which in turn may cause a fuel leak at the weld of the front bracket to the tunnel.  The result could lead to a fire.  Dealers will install a left and right brace which is intended to reduce front mount distortion during certain crash conditions.  The repair is free of charge and the safety recall is expected to begin on or about December 14, 2009.  Owners can contact H-D at (414)343.4056 or the NHTSA at (888)327.4236.

The models effected are:

  1. All 2009 – 2010: FLHP; FLHPE; FLHR; FLHR SHRINE; FLHRC; FLHT; FLHTC; FLHTCU; FLHTCU SHRINE; FLHTCU W/SC; FLHTCUTG; FLHTP; FLHX;
  2. All 2010 – FLHXXX; FLHTCUSE5; FLHTK
  3. All 2009 – FLTR; FLTR3-CVO; FLTRSE3; FLHTCU4-CVO; FLHTCUSE4

In 2008, H-D announced recalling nearly 47,500 touring vehicles because of a fuel-filter shell issue.  More information available HERE on that recall.  Then earlier this year they announced a 2009 CVO Road Glide recall HERE.

Photo courtesy of H-D

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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 »

GTOI’m fascinated by the rapid decline of the American car industry. 

And given Harley-Davidson’s consideration of closing its main assembly facility in Pennsylvania and moving production elsewhere is it déjà vu all over again?  GM and Chrysler went through the same China and Mexico facility debate to lower cost and cope with sales downturns now H-D wants the same experience?!  Huh?

A couple weeks ago there was an interesting article in “New York Times” on the GTO.  I recall hearing the Ronny & The Daytona’s song, but didn’t truly appreciate the “goats” until several years later when the Pontiac was a sleek ride on the boulevard.  At the time I had no idea that Jaguars were an exclusive make.  I’d see an XKE now and again, but if you wanted a real car, a hot rod, one that sparkled in the sunlight and impressed the girls, you got an American car.

In our family we had an string of American cars.  Trained as an engineer, my dad started off with GM/Chevy.  He purchased a sporty rear-engine Corvair Monza that caught fire on the way home from the dealership, but that’s what the brand stood for, great engineering.  There were several models purchased after, but not before the in-line six cylinder C-10 Chevrolet pickup that we must have drove 89,000 miles.  No matter how hard it was driven it got 9 MPG’s!  I remember a partially dismantled block in the driveway at one point theorizing how to boost the gas mileage with a timing belt change. At the end of the sixties and armed with a premonition of gas station lines my dad purchased a new 1970 Toyota Corona.  A Canary Yellow practical four door for a family of four with a dog.  A 1900cc (1.9L) 4 cylinder (3R-C) engine with a 2-speed Toyoglide automatic transmission.  After that Corona purchase I don’t remember much in the way of American car’s in our family.

My love affair with the automobile was not that much different from what I suspect was many of yours.  I studied “Car and Driver.”  I debated buddies what machines we were going to own.  Had friends with Cuda’s and “Stangs.”  But with the early-70’s oil embargo, Yom Kippur War and then later on with Jimmy Carter inflation and national energy policies… I went foreign and never looked back.   People made fun of that Fire Engine Red Corolla that looked like a thirty year old vehicle, even though it was brand new.  But then almost overnight the Datsun 510, 240Z and Celica converted the masses.  Who knew driving could be so much fun?

The usual suspects at GM have run that outfit into the ground.  And it’s hard not to compare analogies to the current state of the Harley motorcycle business.

Detroit said it was just giving the public what it wanted.  So let’s slap the backs of all those Detroit execs for ignoring the coming rise in the price of oil, the environmental concerns and just sell more SUVs.  It’s taken years.  But the Harley-Davidson world seems to be in a similar place as Detroit.  After years of coasting, it’s collapsing, and it’s not sure what the path out is.   Could it be that the blame lies on the pros who drove the business to the cliff, milking millions all the way, believing they’re entitled to their riches?  Is it union busting or “negotiation tactics?”  Where is the next act that H-D can rally around and declare great?  Not marketing noise.  Or accountant speak….like saying Britney might book revenue, but you’ll have a hard time finding any believer in her music.  Her music is not seen as necessary to most people’s lives.  It’s too discordant, or made for the cash register, not humans.  

Be it GM, H-D or Britney…until they change the product, we’ll remain in the doldrums.  It can be done, but only if the execs stop worrying about their lifestyle and get honest.

Photo courtesy of NYT.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: