Harley-Davidson was established in 1903 with headquarters in Milwaukee. It
is a diversified company, the only major US maker of motorcycles still in business
and the nation's #1 seller of heavyweight motorcycles offering several models of
touring and custom cycles, related products, accessories and transportation
vehicles. In the 1960’s, the Japanese flooded the market competing with
light weight motorcycles and huge marketing programs to promote sales. The
motorcycle industry took off rapidly. In 1969, this market penetration created
major quality problems for Harley Davidson related to increased production efforts
to remain competitive. The company could not match the excellence of the Japanese
cycles who had began producing heavy weight cycles, nearly driving HD out of
business. HD founders grandson, who mingled with and understood the Harley riders
was successful in keeping the company viable with new designs.
In the 80’s, 13 members of HD management purchased the company from AMF and
introduced a short term strategy to return to quality with Just in time inventory and an
employee involvement, quality circle program. In 1982, HD convinced the International
Trade Commission (ITC) that a glut of imported Japanese bikes were a threat to the
company. Tariffs imposed on the Japanese imports gave Harley Davidson a chance to
reposition itself and regain market share.
A long term marketing strategy was developed to focus on heavy weight bikes.
Improvements were discussed with the riders and a Harley Owner Group (HOG) society
expanded the social atmosphere of motorcycling and activities revolve around HD
products. A Demonstration Rider program brought new Harleys to motorcycle events
and licensed riders were encouraged to ride showing would be customers the improve-
ment in quality. Manufacturing publications and media were invited to visit plants and to... [continues]
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