• Aug 5, 2010
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Harley-Davidson is looking to cut its labor costs any way it can, even if it takes leaving Wisconsin. The Associated Press is reporting that the 107-year-old company has gone as far as to scout out other (likely southern) states in an effort to reduce its labor costs. Company CEO Keith Wandell says that the company will likely come to a decision in the next month or two, adding that Harley is open to tax incentives that will help keep the motorcycle facilities in the state of Wisconsin. Among the chief concerns of Harley-Davidson executives is the production schedules at its factories. Harley corporate wants to align production with seasonal demand, but as of yet, the union isn't too keen on the idea, so it's possible that the threat to move is posturing.

Meanwhile, the city of Milwaukee is already struggling to keep jobs in a down economy and the loss of 1,630 high-paying jobs would be a monumental blow to the community. The city already lost the headquarters of Miller Beer back in 2008, and Schlitz left the city in the 1980s due in part to labor strife. Harley-Davidson also brings tens of thousands of visitors from around the world, bolstering the local tourist economy. But although management is looking into moving its factories, it will reportedly keep its headquarters in the beleaguered city.



[Source: Associated Press]


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  • 66 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      Of course, HD executives will, likewise, agree to salary cuts to match what they realize by moving production? Sounds like the bowling equipment mgmt staff never left



      • 4 Years Ago
      Unions can kiss my BUTT. they ran the American auto industry to the brink, and now our one of few large motorcycle manufactures!
      • 4 Years Ago
      "Get your motor runnin..."..out of town apparently.

      It's not necessarily big or secret news that they are in hock big time to I believe Berkshire Hathaway - Warren Buffets group that gave them a BIG loan last year?. (Sorry if the loaner group is incorrect) but they are in hock and they may not be calling their own shots anymore.

      Yes they can leave and go anywhere, but worse (if there is a worse) than screwing the town and the employees is that it could have been prevented if they just stopped loving themselves to death. By refusing or very slowly upgrading the product, and when they have, the bikes still are over-weight and living in the past.The current 'new designs', are a re-hash of what's been done by independent companies already.

      Willy G. has never had a truly creative eye and it shows. Like them if you will, but it's hard to argue against his 'designs' being anything other than stale. Then, you've got to hand it to them for WAY over-extending themselves with new dealers everywhere - even WAY up in northern Wisconsin at the far end of the tourist roads. There you'll find the latest and greatest Chinese made Harley 'uniforms' complete with American flags, Eagles, Blue Jeans and fake bandanas that stretch over your head for those who can't tie a knot....oh, and 'biker music'.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Why do some people refuse to see that they are making a bad decision even when it’s staring them right in the face? Especially when deciding to move forward puts others in harms way or destroys their financial stability. Look at this post in regards to Chicago Tribune and Harley Davidson:

      http://bit.ly/bSvPl3
        • 4 Years Ago
        Harley can't do what the Tribune, or B&N can do. They can both go and embrace a new format, digital. Harley will always have to sell hardware.

        There's only 1 mistake Harley has made, and that's trying to sell a Harley to everyone that wanted one whether they could afford it or pay for it or not. They where the housing industry of motorcycles.

        In the end, making loans for motorcycles to guys that can't pay them back is what will kill them.
      • 4 Years Ago
      HD, please do not move to the South, it will just mean more smelly, misfiring, loud pipe bikes on our roads.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Why don't they just leave ... planet earth. All it is good for is making noise.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I would love to see HD move manufacturing and assembly operations to a southern US state to stick it to the unions for being inflexible. When will they learn?

      Tax credits - that's garbage though. Why should taxpayers, whether they are Wisconsin residents or nationally, subsidize the union's high wage labor costs?

      It would be better if HD just said to their employees: Quit the unions and work with us or we're moving.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Leave Wisconsin? I wish they would leave the planet!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Gruv - Like the XR1200X?

        I suppose you were a big Buell supporter when it was a part of HD. I mean somone so eager for a HD branded sport bike must have been all over Buell right?

        • 4 Years Ago
        I wish they'd produce better bikes, and branch out from the macho/cruiser/moron type of bike.
      • 4 Years Ago
      "Harley corporate wants to align production with seasonal demand, but as of yet, the union isn't too keen on the idea, so it's possible that the threat to move is posturing. "

      Yet again, unions insist upon proving what monolithic dinosaurs they are. Refusal to innovate isn't Harley Davidson's problem, their problem is that they have a massive ball and chain hunkering around with them every time they want to *shock* do something new. In this case, production shifts is a form of innovation, and it makes the most sense right now.

      This could be the start of a number of other changes they're trying to implement, but the good ol' boys known as the union hate change. REAL change and innovation means less power for the few head honchos of that union.

      And btw, I know several people in my age group who are hankering to get a Harley ;)
        • 4 Years Ago
        @LJKelley

        "So if HD sells 120,000 bikes a year they can't make 10,000 a month and stock them until they do sell? Its not like the bikes are gonna go bad, and if there is sudden uptick in deman there is overtime."

        It doesn't quite work like that. If they flood the market with a number of different models, and can't sell them off quick enough, they essentially devalue all of their products simultaneously.

        Ford, GM, and Chrysler dealerships had the EXACT same problem with their car models on and off from the 80's to late '90's.

        It's cliche, but the expression "supply and demand" has merit. There's no point for them to be churning these things out 24/7 and BURN through tremendous amounts of money (because of labor/parts cost) if their products are going to go through a 13-40% (worst case) mark-down at the store.

        HD's goal is to get as many bikes out into the world, but if they're not selling, HD has to innovate. Not all innovations are physical. There was nothing PHYSICALLY innovative about the Model T, except for the fact that it could be sold incredibly cheaply because a lot of thinking/restructuring had occurred for its production.
        • 4 Years Ago
        So if HD sells 120,000 bikes a year they can't make 10,000 a month and stock them until they do sell? Its not like the bikes are gonna go bad, and if there is sudden uptick in deman there is overtime.

        It makes sense to the workers, they get a stable income every month. Yes, the workers could save, but it makes it much easier for everyone involved in work is stable. Most of the storage of extra stock can be pushed on dealers, and actually would give customers an incentive in dead times to go buy something as there would be more available stock to purchase instantly.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Harley does not make bad cycles. Overpriced, yes. They are a niche bike, like Morgan cars, they cater mostly to retro cruiser folks. They lost their chance at the younger crowd when they shuttered Buell. IMO, they should have made a state of the art sport bike, like BMW did. BMW is mostly known for its boxxer engines, but evidently they wanted to align the two wheel business a little more closely to the four wheel side. Things were very good at HD for a long time and they had the resources to develop a top flight v or inline high performance four. All the younger guys I know prefer the GSX-R, CBR, R1 ect.
      Problem is the bikes HD makes that people can afford are not what any of them would want. They pissed away future sales because now these young guys and gals have grown up with Honda's instead of Harley's.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Want to cut cost ? try trimming some of the fat, start at the top and work down, try that for a change. This country was built on the blue collar's sweat. But no body wants to pay him a fair wage.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Who cares! Nothing but overpriced and STILL poorly made motorcycles and overpriced service. No more HD, no tears will be shed. Victory or any Japanese bike beats a HD any day!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Victory has some nice bikes but they are equal to or more expensive than the comparable HD products.

        Victory Hammer S: $18,499
        Harley VRSCF Muscle: $14,999

        Victory Vision Street: $18,999
        Harley Street Glide Custom: $18,999

        Victory Cross Country Base:$17,999
        Harley Road King: $16,999

        Victory Vegas 8Ball: $13,799
        Harley Dyna Street Bob $12,999

        Lowest priced Victory Produc -Vegas 8ball t: $13,799
        Lowest Prices HD product - Iron 883: $7,999

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