After 107 years in Milwaukee, Harley-Davidson could leave
Iconic motorcycle maker could move to another state if it cannot cut labor costs
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Morry Gash / AP After 107 years in Milwaukee, Harley Davidson motorcycles could soon be rumbling away to another state if the company cannot bring down its labor costs.
By DINESH RAMDE
updated 1 hour 36 minutes ago
MILWAUKEE ó It's the roar that made Milwaukee famous ó the distinctive throaty rumble of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. But that much-loved racket could be rumbling away to another state if the company cannot bring down its labor costs.
Harley-Davidson warned employees in April that it will move its Wisconsin manufacturing operations elsewhere if it cannot cut millions of dollars at the factories that build the bikes known as "Milwaukee Iron."
Harley's corporate headquarters would remain here, but that's small consolation to a community that has already endured repeated blows to its civic identity.
"When you think of Milwaukee you think of beer, brats and Harley-Davidson," said Steve Daily, a researcher at the Milwaukee County Historical Society. "Right or wrong, that's what it is."
But that's been changing. For example, the corporate parent of beer giant Miller parent moved its U.S. headquarters to Chicago in 2008 after joining its domestic operations with Molson Coors Brewing Co. Then there was Schlitz, which billed itself as "the beer that made Milwaukee famous" until financial and labor problems forced it to sell out to a Detroit company in the 1980s.
That leaves Harley-Davidson Inc. as the city's lone signature brand. It's also a magnet for tourists, many of whom want to visit the factories where Harley engines are made.
"We get asked frequently where the plants are," said Paul Upchurch, the president of the VISIT Milwaukee tourism bureau. "A lot of people around the world associate Milwaukee with the home of Harley."
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might not if you can read; quote: Harley executives are already scouting out other STATES.
thanks for playin'
03 Candy Red Retro DeSmog with plates, Tornado, Sideburner, Saddlebags, Tool Pouch, Honda Windsheild, Honda Lightbar, Resevoir Covers, Handlebar clamp clock, clear tail-lite
If they move south, Alabama maybe, we could get T-shirts printed;
DO I SMELL GRITS BURNING?
2004 1300C, Spyker Mod, FP Stage 3 Kit, Resmogged with Bubs and a bunch of bling.
Additionally, look for smaller, cheaper Harleys aimed at the South American market. There are plans on he table for 125cc and 250cc Harleys, code-named CS (Commuter Series). these will be single cylinder models with 3 speeds that suppsoedly will sell for under $5,000 US but will look like the real thing, only way smaller. The engines will be made in China and final assembly will be done in Bolivia.... or was that Bulgaria? In any case, it won't be Milwaukee.
Last edited by oasysco; 08-05-2010 at 05:39 AM.
Greg in SE Virginia
2000 Harley UC
Gone, but not forgotten: VTX1300S, VTX1800C, Aero 750 (couch on wheels)
07 1800 T - Vince & Hinse, PC III, Thunder Hurricane Intake, Ultimate Lowrider, & a lot of chrome, Metz front & rear ( 200 ). Starting mileage .2 now 25,250 & Loving ever minute of it !
I also have a friend who works for HD. I spoke with him last night. HD is exploring all options for future manufacturing, southern U.S., Asia and other locals.
05' 1300 Retro - "Blackie"
R.I.P. - 81' CB900c, 73' CB350
I read an article yesterday they are just looking at other states if the union doesn't help them out. WE will see how American the workers are. Everyone has taken hits because of the economy. Seems to me they would rather keep a job than try and have the union lose there jobs.
2005 1300R 87000 miles gone
2014 Victory Cross Country Tour
At the end of last year they announced pans to move to Turkey and then several months later decided to stay if cost initiatives could be met. It could have been a ploy to get the union to agree with them.
Harley Davidson is an international company these days and has a large following in other markets. There is not telling what they may do in the end.
American Made: I rode to Flagstaff, AZ two weeks ago to attend the too broke for Sturgis Rally, met some really nice people, riding my Honda 1300 C a guy on a Road king asked why I ride a Honda and started the conversation about buying U S made products. I told him my bike was made in Ohio by U S workers, his reply was ya but the money goes over seas
Well about 25 years ago I managed parts Warehouse that was also a distributer for Nipindenso we deliver Nipindenso starters to the local Harley Shops all the time, Harley then used foreign made parts on their bikes 25 years ago, this information is not to bash Harley but to make a point.
Ask any business man today he will tell you that the world has changed and it is never going to go back to the good old days of U S made only. I donít like it ether, but we are now part of a world economy whether we like it or not. The U S auto makers even Ford (quote) buy American uses foreign made parts. Any one bought an electronic device of any kind lately that is not made in or has foreign parts in it? Some of those foreign countries make some dam good stuff remember they learn it from us how to make it better faster and cheaper. Better brush up on your Mandarin Chinese it coming and sooner then you think.
I remember jokes back in the 60s when something stamped "Made in Japan" was a slam and meant to belittle and poke fun. Now it reflects the highest standard of quality.
Dillion said it best---- "The times they are a changing" (that was in the 60s too)
The quality of your life is directly connected to how well you handle "Plan B"
So? HD still has the marque that lasts. I won't spill a drop of oil if/when they relocate.
'03 1800 Retro, purple
1999 Valkyrie Standard, black and silver
IBA member #31504
"IF" and thats a big "IF" this were to really take place, I'd bet it's more of a play for "stimulus or a bailout" and why not? at least this actually would go to providing "real" jobs saved or created. GBJD
03,big (X) gunmetal gray,shield,rest,rack,mustang seat,cobra fatties, honda light bar (good times). You deserve what you tolerate.
I totally agree the guy I was talking to had no idea of how big business works, he would not have understood a single word even if I had tried to explain it to him. He was convinced in his mind that he had an American built bike (absolutely) made with all American made parts (error) and that somehow that made him feel as if his bike was of better quality then mine and totally committed to buying an all American product. My VTX is American built (absolutely) and made up of American parts and foreign as well (the truth) just like Harleys. We have all met these types of individuals before.
Proud to ride an American made, by American workers Honda VTX.
People only know what they are told--- and they believe it. Afterward you have a hard time convincing them or the real truth.
BTW-- I owned a Nissan truck that was manufactured in Tenn.
The quality of your life is directly connected to how well you handle "Plan B"
Who really cares where their bikes are made? Japan, Ohio, Milwaukee, Seoul? I can guarantee you that if HD were to move overseas (highly unlikely imo) they would double up on their quality control program to ensure (prove) that they're committed to excellence and do their best to maintain their loyal customer base. Which is nothing different from what any other company would do.
The only thing that would bother me about an overseas move, or any move for that matter, is the loss of jobs in Milwaukee. I hate to see people put out of work, especially in an economy that is dead stagnant.
'07 Black Honda VTX1300C
That being said, at the end of the day the HD has a responsibliy to the investors and the bottom. The day of the baby boomer is coming to an end which means less people thus the new strategic direction.
Just my two cents!
Ignoring that it happens to be HD, this is just another sad example of what happens when you let labor make executive decisions. How much should you pay someone to bolt parts on to a frame on an assembly line?
Yes, at one time Unions provided a very very important function to prevent corporate abuse of labor and transformed the work environment in dramatic and positive ways as well as the lives of unionized workers. But in todays world with all the government laws, regulations, safe guards and whistle blowing mechanisms Unions no longer serve a useful or positive function in todays work environment.
If you dislike your job (don't like the work or it doesn't pay enough), then do something to improve yourself and move on to a better job. If you don't get up 8 out 10 days saying I am excited to go to work and do a good job then you are in the wrong job and have nobody but yourself to blame. Don't rely on a Union, your Mommy or anybody else to fix it for you.
Last edited by VTXCRZR; 08-05-2010 at 05:13 PM.
2003 VTX 1800 C, Rinehart Exhaust, Hypercharger, PCIII, Custom map for each cylinder, 1300 FD, Spec 3 F-wheels, 200x50x18 Metzler
There is no "off" position on the genius switch.