The Success of Harley Davidson

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Harley-Davidson began selling motorcycles in the United States in 1903 and by the 1920’s had become the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world. The company enjoyed success and growth up to the 1960’s and 1970’s when they experienced competition from Japanese companies (Crainer, 1999). According to the video that was shown in class, Harley-Davidson was facing major problems, which included slumping sales, forcing them to restructure. They changed the production and management strategies and went on to continued success and growth.

The turn around started in 1981 when a group of 13 Harley-Davidson executives led by Vaughn Beals bought the company. These new owners started the Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.) in an attempt to open lines of communication with the customers and bring them closer to the brand (Crainer, 1999). This is known as an affinity group and it involves spending time, attention and money on existing owners. Every Harley buyer gets a free one-year membership and there are trips, parties, and special merchandise (Crain 1999).

In 1989, Richard Teerlink became CEO of Harley-Davidson and brought about change within the company by opening up new lines of conversation. A meticulous quality-control program involved some 5,000 employees all contributing ideas on how to improve the place and its products (L., 1997). This rigorous quality regime also made sure that every Harley that left the factory was worthy of the Harley-Davidson name and every customer could be guaranteed hat the machine they received would be worth the wait. With these strategies, Harley experienced success through the 1990’s. Many models needed a waiting list for buyers and used bikes sold for more than the list price of new ones. In 1997, Harley-Davidson had record sales of $1.75 billion and held a 48% share of the North American heavy road bike market (Crainer 1999).

With the increasing problems in the U.S. economy, Harley-Davidson has been experiencing declining...
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