Do I Understand Correctly?

    • 2 posts
    October 11, 2011 12:43 PM PDT

    Wandell: Harley-Davidson needs to be more agile, seek new customers

    Harley-Davidson is plotting a marketing course designed to walk a tightrope: attracting new customers without alienating die-hard fans, CEO Keith Wandell says.

    “We can’t survive on our core customers alone,” Wandell told a symposium audience at the Center for Operational Excellence at Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business Friday. “2008 changed the landscape of the economy in this country forever, and anybody who believes for one minute that it’s ever going to be the same as it was before 2008, it’s not going to happen.”

    Bob Althoff, owner of Dealernews Top 100 dealer AD Farrow Co. – the oldest continually operating Harley-Davidson dealership in the U.S., echoed Wandell’s message, according to the Columbus Business Journal, noting the company needs to give riders more entry-level opportunities.

    “We train (first-timers) how to ride, but most will buy their first motorcycle from our competitors – and that breaks our heart,” Althoff said.

    Wandell hinted that the company will bring new products to market more quickly and try to be a more agile player to keep up with market trends.

    “If we bring out products that make them say, ‘Wow,’ then they’ll know we’re still investing in them,” he said.

    The Motor Co. got complacent during the boom years when customers were placed on waiting lists for new motorcycles, he said, and that alienated some potential customers.

    “You told people to go away,” he said. “You said, ‘We don’t want you.’ ”

    Wandell told the group that North America, home to half of Harley-Davidson’s more than 1,400 dealer locations, has been overdeveloped. Between 60 and 70 stores have closed in recent years, and another 30 are expected to be trimmed from the field soon.

    This from the lad who dropped the Buell line & auctioned off the manufacturing equipment at fire-sale prices!
    Is he jesting?
    Closing dealerships should  be just the thing to bring new customers in. - Whisky, Tango, .   .  .
  • October 12, 2011 11:32 PM PDT
    If a dealer sucks, it chases away more potential customers for years down the road. I'm guessing their ax is aimed at the dealerships who also sell a large volume of metric bikes. Harley subsidy to train riders, yet doesn't gain the eventual sale. Problem with Buell was marketing. Even the dealers that sold them hated them. Revolutionary designs don't always mean GOOD designs. Face it, some of Buell's bikes royally sucked. I'm hoping they bring back several similar models, but leave them with a Harley name. A return to a Sportster standard, a scrambler version again and a decent sports tourer with the Porsche motor.
    • 2 posts
    October 13, 2011 11:32 AM PDT
    Buell was the reason at least some of us decided to "buy American" - Sure was not in the mood for a 550(+)# ride, slung low enough to decapitate earthworms - Dithering between Ducatti & BMW when was made aware of the Ulysses.
    Suspect the reason HD shut Buell down was that when they were flogging the s' out of the union the union asked them to close down the non-union Buell facility. - Cheap enough considering the give-backs they got.
    Would not mind seeing a scambler version of the Sprotster . . . if, . . . if, . . . they put it on a Jenny Craig & shave about 100#. - In the meantime, assuming I outlive the Ulysses, planning on replacing it with a Triumph.
    The Porsche motor idea is interesting but seems awfully bulky/heavy for a sports ride.
  • October 14, 2011 4:37 AM PDT
    Theres not many motorcycles I don't like.I think I could count them on two fingers.Harleys are nice and I have owned a couple (when you could still find old ones for a fair price)But for me they are just priced way out of my price range.When my Japanese cruiser gives up the ghost (If ever) I will have gotten my money out of it.Not bashin Harley but I don't even consider them at the price they ask.Too many fish in the sea
    • 846 posts
    October 14, 2011 5:36 AM PDT
    As one of their core customers I see room for them to expand their market. I too don’t necessarily agree with them dumping Buell (but I don’t know the full story). But there is a need for them to come up with a competitively priced entry level bike. Using the Sportsters engine and possibly a different frame or modified they could have an entry level cruiser (case in point the Switch Back which tries to cover cruising and touring). I understand the problems of such an endeavor but I think there up to it. I’ve had friends start riding and most start off with something other than a Harley due to price and being unsure if riding is really for them. Most then down the road that stick with it then look to move over to one depending on the type of riding they want to do. The Vrod engine is another underutilized engine or line. There has been more than one comment that adding that engine in the touring line would bring in a different kind of customers. As far as the dealer the more the better as the ones with poor customer service get weeded out in short order and the competition helps make them all better.
    • 1855 posts
    October 14, 2011 6:40 AM PDT
    I ordered a 2012 Black Switchback in August. It ain't comin' until December. A fkn new product ya won't find at any dealers? WTF is up with that. That whole harley schpeel reminds me of the time the IRS was claiming to be more citizen friendly and then went out and spent over a million bucks on new weapons.

  • October 14, 2011 3:35 PM PDT
    My Switchback will be here on the 26th!:-)
    • 2 posts
    October 21, 2011 10:50 AM PDT
    IMO, the problem with Buell was/is that Erik Buell was a competition rider, gifted engineer, american innovator and Keith Wendall is a complete moron. I don't know how or why Wendall got his job, but I do know that since he's got it he has had a series of flip flops and missteps that put the future of the company in peril. Buell started off as a pet project aimed at once again getting Harley into the racing game. Out of that grew a company that built motorcycle that could compete with the Japanese both on the track and in sales.

    Keep in mind that Harley and Buell have been joined at the hip since 1993 when Harley bought 49% of the company for peanuts. Harley then bought controlling interest in Beull in 1998 to try to form Buell into it's "starter" brand (maybe a mistake, maybe not). Somthing that Wendall apparently wants to do with some new line after killing Buell.

    It was WENDALL that killed Buell based on the idea that cruisers were brought better (easier) profit margins. The fact is Wendall (the epitome of a wanna be biker) hated the existence of Buell from the moment he was hired and tried repeatedly (until he was successful) to scrap the company on the sole basis that big cruisers were more profitable. Now that he may be realizing the market for large expensive bikes might be dwindling he is promoting the same exact thing he just destroyed. Utterly MIND BOGGLING!

    Sorry for the rant.
    • 2 posts
    October 21, 2011 11:01 AM PDT
    Big man hug for you - Think you nailed it
    Spend 2/3 of my spare time railing about the government but corporate America ain't exactly covering themselves with glory these days either
  • October 21, 2011 12:09 PM PDT
    I'm going to show Harley what I think by buying a Victory Cross Country next year. The only thing that makes corporate america listen is when you speak loudly with your wallet.
    • 2 posts
    October 21, 2011 7:07 PM PDT
    99Savage, man hug back at ya- one of the things that really makes my blood boil is an article I read, I believe around 2007 that talked about Wandell's use of market reserch to "decide the future of Harley Davidson".

    According to the article he used a group of non riders because he believed the they were the "untapped" market. To me this logic is completely flawed. Most people who do not ride will never ride and those that tend to start riding later in life get split down the middle between, those that ride and fall in love and those that thought it was a great idea, but now their bike sits untouched in the garage. IMO, he should have used a test group of people who were riding introductory model bikes.

    His flawed testing lead to the (wrong) conclusion that most people wanted to ride big cruisers or sport bikes rather than a test group of riders that may have told him that they would have bought an American introductory bike if they knew one was available.

    I mean, who cares what people who don't ride, would ride, if they did ride?

    It's my opinion, based on the info, from the article I read, that leads me to believe his own flawed logic lead to his mistaken impression that Buell was a waste of time. At least that, and his mistaken impression that people would be buying status symbol bikes for ever.
  • October 23, 2011 6:40 AM PDT
    I remember the day the pulled the plug on Buell and right when Buell were having record sales! All I could do was shake my head and thinking to myself: "What's wrong with a company like Harley Davidson being this diverse?" I'm not a Buell type myself but I have quite a few friends that own them and LOVE them like no other bike they've owned and HD just out of the blue pulls the plug? I'm sure as Bobber put it was a matter of time with Wandell (Talk about a huge mistake that HD made, making him the top dog).

    I'm sure if they do bring anything back Wandell will make sure it has a bar and shield on the tank.
  • October 26, 2011 7:03 PM PDT
    By the way, got my Switchback today! Pictures soon to follow!
  • November 19, 2011 5:02 AM PST
    Heck, my closest dealer has Johnny Pag bikes in there with the real deal. What kind of justice is there in that??? There outa be a law!
  • November 19, 2011 5:08 AM PST
    A persons ride is thier shrine. It doesnt matter if it was that Zuki 80 I had in high school or a $100,000 custom, its mine and I will spend money on it. If the market actually looked at it that way Harley wouldnt make the custom accessories so high.Imagine HD with JP prices.