May 25, 2009 – Hot News

New Harley-Davidson execs look closely at production

Harley-Davidson is considering moving its main production away from Pennsylvania as it aims to lower costs and cope with a sales downturn, according to the Associated Press.
This comes after recent changes in some of the company’s management, including the president and CFO.
Harley-Davidson is looking to reduce company costs, including potentially moving the main production away from the York, Penn., plant, but Harley-Davidson spokesman Bob Klein didn’t say where the company would potentially move. He said the York facility is not competitive as it stands.
Part of the plan to lower costs is to cut between 525-575 hourly workers at York, some of which has already been implemented, a report said. The York facility employs about 2,400 workers and consists of two factories that assemble Harley’s Touring and Softail motorcycles.
Accompanying current plant consolidations, Harley aims to cut between 1,400-1,500 jobs during the next two years.
“It relates to excess capacity, it relates to competitive and cost pressures both in the current economy and longer term,” Klein said in the article. “So what we’ve told employees is that we are going to be doing a major evaluation of the York operations.”
Pennsylvania Sens. Arlen Specter and Bob Casey recently sent a letter to new Harley CEO Keith Wandell, saying the facility is important to the local economy and they asked the company to protect the factory’s jobs.
“We strongly urge you to give serious consideration to any option that will protect the thousands of jobs at stake and preserve Harley-Davidson’s presence in the region,” they wrote.
The possibility of moving production away from York, Penn., came days after the announcement that H-D’s CFO Thomas Bergmann resigned to “seek other career opportunities.”
Bergmann joined the company in 2006 after Jim Ziemer became president and CEO in 2005. John Olin, vice president and controller for Harley-Davidson’s Motor Co. unit, will replace Bergmann on an interim basis.
The company also named former vice president and treasurer Perry Glassgow as interim president of Harley-Davidson Financial Services, which is effective immediately. Bergmann also had been serving as interim president of the unit. Currently the senior director of financial reporting for Harley, Mark Kornetzke, was appointed to chief accounting officer. Kornetzke is a 13-year veteran of Harley-Davidson.
“We are fortunate to have these well-experienced leaders who are deeply knowledgeable and highly involved in our business assume these critical roles as we conduct an internal and external search for these two key positions,” Wandell said.

Kawasaki offers buyouts to workers in Nebraska

Kawasaki is offering a buyout package to 320 workers at its plant in Lincoln, Neb., which produces ATVs and PWC. A total of about 2,000 workers are employed at the plant, according to a company press release.
“Rapidly declining sales” of recreational and utility products prompted the buyout. If not enough employees take the buyout, Kawasaki will “be forced to terminate some employees,” the company stated in the release.
Workers already have been working short weeks and will continue to do so for the next several months.

How metric bike shipments are faring this spring

Metric motorcycle manufacturers shipped 9 percent fewer new bikes to the United States in March than the previous-year period, according to the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA).
Overall, more than 24,000 motorcycles were sent in March to the United States from JAMA members, which include Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki and Kawasaki. Motorcycle shipments to Canada also decreased. JAMA imports to Canada totaled 3,844, a 7 percent decline.
Overall, JAMA members manufactured more than 60,000 motorcycles in March, a 50 percent decline compared to the previous-year month. psb

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