- In early 2020, with the company below stress from Wall Avenue and with a demographic difficulty looming because it struggled to plan new riders, Harley-Davidson CEO Matt Levatich stepped down, changed on an acting basis by board member Jochen Zeitz, who sooner or later changed into named CEO.
- Zeitz rapid moved to replace Harley’s enhance technique with a retrenchment around core merchandise.
- Harley has been here earlier than, and Zeitz’s technique — “Rewire,” as he calls it — would possibly well per chance well perhaps work, however it absolutely is no longer without concern.
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Damaged-down Harley-Davidson CEO Matt Levatich had an very no longer going job — and no longer does, changed earlier this 300 and sixty five days by Jochen Zeitz, onetime CEO of Puma and longtime Harley board member.
He wasted no time first as intervening time CEO, when on a vital-quarter earnings conference call with analysts, he rapid reversed course on Levatich’s “More Roads” transformation thought.
“We’ve persisted to transfer ahead with the supreme ability system of More Roads, however our technique desires to be reassessed,” Zeitz mentioned.
“As a outcomes of my observations and review, I’ve concluded that we possess to know necessary actions and rewire the company now in phrases of priorities, execution, operating mannequin and technique to force sustained income and long interval of time enhance. We’re calling it The Rewire and it’s our playbook for the next few months, main to a brand new 5-300 and sixty five days strategic thought which we will piece when visibility to the future returns.”
Rapidly after, the Harley board made Zeitz’s appointment eternal.
Here’s what Harley’s new direction methodology for the American icon:
Harley-Davidson has been constructing motorcycles in america for 117 years. In lots of systems, it be the definitive American company, with a product that combines both its possess values and The US’s.
Damaged-down CEO Matt Levatich hoped to be obvious that that heritage for one more 100 years, so he undertook a transformational thought that will enhance ridership, lengthen to new markets, and attack new alternatives.
It changed into an correct instance of dynamic leadership, and originally Harley, Levatich, and a newly elected President Donald Trump found current ground. But that relationship later soured.
Levatich wished to construct Harleys the save there had been equipped, especially in Asia, and that technique ran afoul of Trump’s “construct it here” bias. Harley additionally found itself a sufferer of Trump’s substitute wars, as the highly symbolic bike maker changed into retaliated towards when the Trump administration began to stage tariffs on imports.
Harley has been here earlier than. The company practically constantly appears to be up towards balancing a enhance mindset with a possess-the-core perspective. The 2008-09 financial disaster supposed that Harley shed the Buell sport bike sub-worth.
But Harley’s valorous electric future additionally seemed uncertain. The company’s highly-touted LiveWire bike launched with a hefty ticket ticket — $30,000 — and wasn’t an instantaneous success.
LiveWire changed into entrance-and-center on the company’s booth for the 2019 Mild York Bike Existing, on the assorted hand.
The electrical-bike market is difficult. It be within the point out time rather tiny, with dinky competition. LiveWire goes up towards bikes from Zero, as an illustration.
But meanwhile, costly, hulking freeway cruisers dwell on the core of Harley’s substitute.
They signify your entire Harley dwell-to-slump daily life.
But these exact potentialities are aging. And so they’re no longer being changed by new riders in giant sufficient numbers to know care of Harley long-interval of time.
That’s the new CEO’s supreme difficulty: steer particular of offending the legit customer whereas concurrently conserving the synthetic from future rivalries.
On its dwelling turf, the logo is below assault from upstarts such as India’s Royal Enfield, which is going after the tiny-displacement market with low-payment bikes that enchantment to metropolis-dwellers.
Ducati has developed a total sub-worth around its Scrambler line of stress-free, outdoorsy, adventurous two-wheelers.
And the Eastern haven’t long past away. They possess got been promoting Harley choices for decades.
Harley has additionally been struggling with a resurgent Indian manufacturer for the throwback, giant-bike market.
The toughest quiz for Zeitz is whether or no longer or no longer Harley’s iconic, all-American image is in terminal decline.
Ironically, Harley’s easiest shot at a revival is no longer going to be to focus exclusively on its legacy customer however pretty to construct ridership in new markets and graduate these potentialities from tiny bikes to giant ones. But that’s an untested playbook. It remains to be seen if Zeitz can pull it off.