Just last week, we reported on Harley-Davidson’s restructuring of its current strategy of going from “More Roads to Harley” to “Rewire”. This was the initiative of their interim CEO then, Jochen Zeitz, as he is poised to focus more on their existing portfolio and veer away from developing newer concepts and refocus on markets that it knows best — cruisers. Zeitz effectively set aside his predecessor, Matt Levatich’s direction of building newer motorcycle concepts to try to attract newer customers. After a disappointing sales slump, Levatich ultimately stepped down from his position last February. With the demand for Harley-Davidson motorcycles disappearing over the past two months as the economy is ravaged by the COVID-19 global pandemic, Harley-Davidson needed a new leader to turn things around. Now, Jochen no longer sits as interim CEO after Harley-Davidson’s board of directors decides to give him a permanent position as CEO and President of Harley-Davidson.
Thomas Linebarger, and independent member of Harley-Davidson’s board of directors has expressed his confidence over the leadership of Zeitz whose sentiment is shared with the rest of its members.
As the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 crisis and recovery persists and given the significant changes that are needed at the company, solidifying Jochen as CEO demonstrates both the board’s confidence in him and Jochen’s commitment to leading the company through this extraordinary time. His two decades of experience as Chairman & CEO of a leading global company and brand, and his enthusiasm and determination to challenge everything about the company based on his turnaround experience is exactly what we need right now to lead Harley-Davidson to long term success.
With his first order of business as turning around the success of the company from its dwindling sales and aging customer base, it is worth mentioning of Jochen’s capability as demonstrated by his former leadership with Puma, which was also a suffering brand then. His appointment led to Zeitz now adopting a bold but simple strategy — go back to basics and know that their customers want.