After years of declining sales and popularity, Milwaukee-based motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson has undergone a changing of the guard. President, CEO and member of the board of directors of Harley, Matt Levatich has recently agreed to step down. Following 26 years with the company and five years as CEO, Levatich and Harley-Davidson came to a mutual understanding that a change in leadership was necessary to take on the growing challenge of declining sales.
“I am very fortunate to have spent many years with a company as revered as Harley-Davidson,” said Levatich in an official statement released on February 28. “In one of the most challenging periods in our history, and I am confident that the progress we have made on the More Roads plan will position Harley-Davidson for long-term success."
Levatich had been instrumental in the introduction of the More Roads to Harley-Davidson plan to drive sales and expand their consumer base globally. The initiative would take advantage of “new products, broader access, stronger dealers and amplifying our brand” in order to combat the declining public interest in their product offerings.
The Harley-Davidson board of directors has appointed member Jochen Zeitz to fill the now-vacant president and CEO role as they search for a permanent replacement. In addition, Zeitz has been named chairman of the board, a position he will continue to hold after they’ve found a new CEO. Zeitz and the board made sure to thank Levatich for his many years of service and highlight his accomplishments working with the More Roads.
Motorcycle sales in general have seen significant decline in recent years, especially in the touring and cruiser product segments that Harley mostly deals in, so this change in leadership doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Whether or not the new CEO will carry on Levatich’s More Roads plan or develop his own plan of action remains to be seen. Regardless, it will be interesting to see how Harley adjusts their business strategies under new leadership.
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