• Apr 10, 2009
Harley-Davidson Nightster - Click above for a high-res image gallery

Keith Wandell has been named Harley-Davidson's new President and CEO, taking the place of James Ziemer. Wendell joins The Motor Company by way of fellow Milwaukee-based automotive supplier Johnson Controls, where he'll remain in his current role as President and COO until the end of April. Financial news institutions seem generally pleased with the appointment, which is good since H-D's currently experiencing some of the worst market conditions in its 106-year history. Somewhat shockingly, Wandell does not currently own a motorcycle, a fact we're certain will be quickly rectified.

Also starting on May 1 will be Enrico D'Onofrio, who will take the reigns at MV Agusta, the Italian motorcycle maker that was recently purchased by Harley-Davidson. D'Onofrio had previously held the role of CFO at cross-town rival Ducati – which definitely sounds promising – and will take over for Matthew Levatich, who will now serve as COO at H-D. Quite the management shake-up, no? Mind-numbingly boring press release after the break.




PRESS RELEASE:

Harley-Davidson, Inc. names Keith E. Wandell President and CEO - Company unveils broader organizational leadership changes

MILWAUKEE (April 6, 2009) - Harley-Davidson Inc. (NYSE:HOG) has named Keith E. Wandell President and Chief Executive Officer, succeeding James L. Ziemer, who is retiring. Wandell, 59, currently serves as President and Chief Operating Officer of Milwaukee-based Johnson Controls, Inc. (NYSE:JCI), a $38 billion global company. Wandell, a 21-year Johnson Controls veteran, starts his new duties at Harley-Davidson May 1.

"Keith Wandell is a seasoned global business leader who brings tremendous energy, passion, and organizational and talent development capability to his job as Harley-Davidson's new chief executive," said Harley-Davidson, Inc. Board Member Barry K. Allen, who serves as the Board's Presiding Director. "His vision and values make him a great fit, and he is absolutely the right person to now lead Harley-Davidson on its exciting journey."

Regarding his appointment, Wandell commented: "Harley-Davidson has a remarkable record of success and limitless possibilities. I am honored and thrilled to join the Harley-Davidson family and to have this opportunity to help it fulfill dreams, create innovative market-leading products, and expand its opportunities worldwide."

The Company also announced the following organizational leadership changes which, according to Allen, will also serve as a catalyst to drive Harley-Davidson's strategies for growth, operational excellence and leadership development going forward:

Matthew S. Levatich becomes President and Chief Operating Officer of Harley-Davidson Motor Company. Levatich, 44, is currently President and Managing Director of MV Agusta, the Italian motorcycle maker that Harley-Davidson, Inc. acquired last August. While at MV, Levatich spearheaded the restarting of MV's operations. In his 15 years at Harley-Davidson, Levatich has held positions of increasing responsibility in the U.S. and Europe, including Vice President and General Manager of the Company's Parts and Accessories business, andVice President of Materials Management.

James A. McCaslin moves to Executive Vice President for Corporate Product Planning, reporting to the CEO. In this newly created position, McCaslin has broad oversight of motorcycle product planning and development processes across Harley-Davidson, Inc. McCaslin, 60, has served as President of the Motor Company for the past eight years.

Enrico D'Onofrio, 51, assumes the post of Managing Director, MV Agusta. D'Onofrio joined MV Agusta as Corporate General Director earlier in 2009, overseeing all administrative functions including finance and human resources. Previously he held senior management positions at motorcycle maker Ducati, including CFO, and at Proctor & Gamble in Europe.

All three appointments are also effective May 1.

"The appointment of Matt Levatich to the senior leadership position at Harley-Davidson Motor Company recognizes his demonstrated abilities at relationship management and as a strategic thinker and problem solver on the operations side of the business. He will be a strong leader in his expanded role," said Allen. "Matt's predecessor, Jim McCaslin, has done an outstanding job of leading the Motor Company's operations. His unique talents, passion for products and operational excellence, and market knowledge will now be a great asset to drive the organization forward in the critical area of product planning and development. And we also look forward to growth for MV Agusta, under Enrico's leadership."

"Harley-Davidson has a uniquely powerful brand, strong market leadership, and a richness of talented leaders and employees who know this business intimately. Keith's arrival and these other leadership changes make a powerful combination that will advance the great work going on all across the organization to attract new riders, grow our core rider base and expand internationally," Allen said.

"On behalf of the entire Board of Directors, I also want to thank Jim Ziemer for his 40 years of service to Harley-Davidson and wish him well on his upcoming retirement. All of us who have worked with Jim throughout the years have benefited from his leadership, his selfless commitment to the Company, and his contributions to making the brand one of the most admired and successful brands in the world," said Allen.

Company Background
Harley-Davidson, Inc. is the parent company for the group of companies doing business as Harley-Davidson Motor Company (HDMC), Buell Motorcycle Company (Buell), MV Agusta and Harley-Davidson Financial Services (HDFS). Harley-Davidson Motor Company produces heavyweight custom, touring and cruiser motorcycles. Buell produces American sport performance motorcycles. MV Agusta produces premium, high-performance sport motorcycles sold under the MV Agusta® brand and lightweight sport motorcycles sold under the Cagiva® brand. HDFS provides wholesale and retail financing and insurance programs primarily to Harley-Davidson and Buell dealers and customers.


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  • 12 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      that's eff'n hot
      Nicole McCarthy
      • 2 Years Ago
      I want to share my disappointment in your company. For being a company that is United States based and supportive of our military, you sure make it hard on military members to have a harley! My husband, a military man for 15 years, with 2 recent deployments over seas, bought a harley using your financing department. He was recently deployed to Afghanistan and therefore, fell under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) where he lowers his interest rate on his harley to 6% while he's over seas. You did lower the interest rate and I paid on time every month. When my husband just recently got home, he then took up an offer to go to flight school for the military and be away for another year, which lead to us deciding to sell back the harley due to it not being used enough. Much to my surprise, you then added the interest rate that difference back on to our pay off rate. This caused us to not get a dollar back of what we had paid. This resulted in us missing out on $900 dollars. I know this may not seem like a lot to you, however, to a family with two children, a teacher and a military member, this is a lot of money. I am absolutely stunned that your company would do this to a soldier who has been over seas multiple times fighting for this country! I no longer believe you really do support military and will make sure I spread the word about your company and how it truly does not support military!
      John Venier
      • 3 Years Ago
      August 18, 2011 To: Harley Davidson Credit Corp. From: John H. Venier RE: Account Number: 20050406xxxx119 Collateral: 2003, American Ironhorse, Stalker SR, 1A9SR02283138xxxx I have a serious problem here. I, as you can see have had this account since 2005. The amount currently owed is $854.99. For the better of the past 3 years I have paid my amount due or more. I received a notice in June 2011 that I owed $1200….odd dollars. I do not remember signing anything that stated I owed 3 months at one time due to the postponement or adding payments to the backside of my account. Yes, there was a time I had an issue with divorce and bankruptcy in 2007 but, I agreed to keep the bike. THIS IS THE DISTURBING PART THAT ANGERS ME TO NO END. I received a normal payment notice on Aug. 15, 2011 which states; Monthly payment $495.27, Current Amount Due $0.00, Past Due Amount $0.00, Late Fees/Other Fees $0.00, Expenses $0.00. I then receive a registered letter on Aug. 16, 2011 that THREATENS the possibility to COMMENCE REPOSSESSION or OTHER PROCEEDINGS OR THE RIGHT TO TAKE BACK THE COLLATERAL. I did receive a call in June 2011 requesting all $1200…odd dollars be paid, at that time I told the person I could not pay all the money but, could continue on with the current monthly amount for the next two months, with the ending payment being made in excess to complete the contract. I also have 2 additional accounts with Harley Davidson for a 2008 Street Glide and a 2007 Softail Deluxe. I would like to know first of all, who in the hell sent me the THREAT letter, I have been through a lot of crap in my life and do not respond very nicely to threats. I also would like to know, is this how Harley Davidson treats their loyal customers?????? Great Company business there people. I had it in my mind I was going to have not only have the Ironhorse picked up but, also the other two bikes, bring a semi truck please, and I would just go buy a HONDA. I then figured, there must be some MORON working for Harley Davidson that authorized this friggin letter. I want to know from someone there that this is NOT how I am going to be treated now, nor in the future, or I will no longer buy Harley Davidson again. I would also hope that this letter finds its way to the person who authorized sending the threat so they would know what a complete MORON they are. Now, what else are you going to do for me since they better of $28,000.00 has been paid on this account and another $28,000.00 on the other two is left?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Maybe getting someone from outside the industry is a good idea, it seems to be working for Ford. I have to agree that the Harley lineup isn't very diverse under the Harley brand, but they seem to be working on that with MV Agusta, and some Buells being made with Rotax engines. I there is only one Harley I really like and that's the XR1200, because it's the one Harley you can get that you sit upright.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You're right, i forgot the XR1200...

        I love that bike as well. Though it suffers from the usual Harley mindset. Styling above all else. For example, they could have made the airboxes (under the tank) larger for better airflow and performance. But they didn't to keep the proportions and looks just right.

        It's the reason why the harley crowd buys harleys. And i respect that mindset too, styling is important for me as well. But it leaves me thinking of what could have been, without the compromises.

        It's also pretty heavy for a naked performance bike. I sure hope it's taller and bigger than the other sportsters (i haven't seen one in the flesh)

        An XR1200 version 2.0 and a facelifted V-rod (or 'traditional' cruisers with that liquid cooled engine). That's where i would want to see them go in the future. Or at least with a much more refined engine. Less visual clutter (rods, pipes, pushrods, separate gearbox...)
      State To State
      • 3 Years Ago
      i just bought an 2011 street glide and its been to the shop 9 times and the dealer treats me like **** the factor warrenty dont help no body has answers now if this was a car it would be a lemon im so tired of this never by a bike in texas bike still broke no rental car so i can go to work what type of company is this or is my skin color thereason and im not playing the race card im tealling the truth all the money i pay once a month and they cant help me get to work so i can pay for the dam thing any suggestions stacey.rapley@gmail.com
      • 5 Years Ago
      Is there an address to contact keith E. Wandell ?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Huge power doesn't matter that much to me, my 25 year old Yamaha 750 has as much power as I really need. I like the way the XR1200 looks and it sits the way I like a bike to sit, with my feet under me. Seems like all the other Harleys have forward controls except the sportster, which sits to low for me. The XR1200 is on my list of bikes I would like to buy, with the: Kawasaki Versa, the Royal Enfield Bullet G5, and the Triumph Bonneville. I wish the Harley wasn't at least 3,000 more than those bikes.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Nice shortlist.

        I agree with you, i like my feet under my ass as well (but not cramped, just a normal euro riding position)

        There used to be a V-rod "street rod" (or something along those lines) which had pegs like a euro naked. It looked a bit weird, because you are already sitting low. Feet under ass requires a higher seat in my opinion.

        Nice shortlist you have there. But don't bother with that Enfield. I know it's very retro, simple and charming, but get the bonneville instead. Much more character, better bike in every way, epic badge, more dealers (you know you'll need them at some point), smoother bi-cylinder ride, etc...

        Enjoy whatever you choose!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Why would a CEO have to own a motorbike to do his job properly? A CEO is all about strategy, management, efficiency, connections...

      CEO's switch jobs regurarly, sometimes to industries that are totally not related at all. They're good at what they do and they like the challenge of restructuring a company to make it competitive again.


      I hope this is a sign of things to come. I hope they step up the game in terms of technology. I hope they deliver bikes that appeal to a younger audience, etc...

      But considering the target audience, i doubt they will change anything. Older, midlife dudes stuck in the 50's with cash and the need to be 'individual' by buying a bike with a 50%+ market share in the US. Most of them are sheep and will buy a Harley no matter what, because of the badge.

      I'm a big fan of the harley franchise, but as a 25 year old, i can't find a single model that appeals to me. It looks to me that i liked harleys more when i was 15 years old. Everyone grows up some day, right? ;)

      A V-rod is the closest thing to modern day harley that i might consider buying. But with my own money, i'd have to think long and hard about that. Sportsters are waaay too small for me, dyna's and softail have antique engines....

      They need to take a close look at victory to get some ideas about how to make a sleek and stylisch cruiser for the 21st century.

      Anyway, i hope they do well...

        • 5 Years Ago
        Actually they have components that look old but are as modern as anybody's. They do make some old-timey stuff with spring forks and so on as a specialty line but the mainline Harleys are fully up to snuff technically. They may not have all of the exotic technology that top sport bikes do but that is not their MO. They have comparable tech in the market they play in. Having said that I agree the most interesting bike they make is the V-Rod which is very cool but expensive.

        I hope it works out well for them, even if they aren't the bikes I would choose I think it is a great franchise.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Considering the dismantling of a once-great product development organization at JCI and the disgusting "one eye on the stock price so I can time my cashing in on options" management at JCI, this could be the beginning of an ignominous end to what was an American success story at Harley Davidson.

      Be prepared to see Chinese production of Harleys, if only for local consumption... while the U.S. organization gets slowly starved.

      Yeah, I know,... the supplier biz is different but, frankly, that doesn't change the fact that a JCI that was profitable throughout this decade hasn't seen a significant dismantling of U.S. organization while growing investment in other countries. Good business sense, perhaps, on the surface but, frankly, one that kills the vaunted American Know-how to which we all pay lip-service.

      Mark these words: Chinese market potential drives (and will drive for other organizations) a de-emphasis of U.S. investment, costing both white & blue collar professionals more than just a bit of the "American Dream" & JCI is a perfect, though somewhat obscure, example of this.