Harley Davidson Preparing for the Next Century

In: Business and Management

Submitted By dlefe94292
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Harley Davidson has had a rollercoaster ride of success. During its earlier years, Harley quickly jumped to the top of motorcycle sales worldwide. With its simple V-Twin engine, Harley had created a bike that was both appealing and reliable. The biggest appeal was how easy the engine was to tinker with as motorcycle mechanics were far and few between, but most of all the sound of “raw power” was what owners loved.

This love for raw power and made in America machinery, brought many loyal customer to Harley throughout the 40’s and 50’s. These customers were generally viewed as tough people, such as U.S. Military, Hell’s Angels, and Hollywood rebels. Harley became and America icon and was now associated with things like the U.S. Flag and bald eagles. As Harley continued to lead the way in market share and sales America, the Japanese wanted its piece of this market share.

Honda’s entry into the U.S. market was nearly opposite of Harley in their marketing approach, as they stumbled onto a segment of customers being more “Family-Oriented”. In 1965, Honda was selling 1 out of every 2 motorcycles purchased in the U.S. More Japanese firms began to follow Honda, offering quieter, faster, and less expensive motorcycles and began leading the way in sales and market share in the U.S. As Harley’s bottom line began to dwindle away, they had to go public to raise capital.

After as dismal IPO, Harley was eventually acquired by AMF who’s CEO tried to drastically change Harley’s handcrafted machine. He dramatically increased production and added new features without considering its manufacturing capabilities. With less-skilled workers, Harley’s quality and reliability declined.

After AMF’s decline in profitability, they sold the business to Vaughn Beals and a small group of managers within Harley. The new ownership began to benchmark Honda, improving Harley’s productivity…...

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