Wisconsin Public Radio

Harley-Davidson CEO Steps Down

“Time for new leadership,” says company, which is struggling to attract younger riders.

By , Wisconsin Public Radio - Feb 29th, 2020 05:18 pm
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Matthew Levatich. Photo from Harley-Davidson.

Matthew Levatich. Photo from Harley-Davidson.

Harley-Davidson announced Friday afternoon that Matthew Levatich, the company’s president and CEO, would leave his role and would no longer be a member of its board of directors.

Jochen Zeitz, a current board member and former CEO of Puma, will serve as Harley’s acting president and CEO.

“The board and Matt mutually agreed that now is the time for new leadership at Harley-Davidson,” Zeitz said in a statement. “Matt was instrumental in defining the More Roads to Harley-Davidson accelerated plan for growth, and we will look to new leadership to recharge our business.”

The Milwaukee-based motorcycle company will use an external search firm to hire a new CEO. Levatich will assist with the transition through the end of March.

“I am very fortunate to have spent many years with a company as revered as Harley-Davidson,” Levatich said in a statement. “The grit and determination of the employees and dealers and their passion for bringing our brand of freedom to people around the world has always been inspiring.”

Harley has struggled for years to attract younger riders to replace those who age and stop riding. The company has reported sales declines for 12 consecutive quarters.

During a January earnings call, Levatich said 2020 would be a pivotal year for Harley-Davidson as the company looks to turn around sales declines. Harley has been working to attract more riders through ongoing marketing campaigns and a wider range of motorcycles, including electric models like the LiveWire. The company is looking to grow its ridership in the United States to 4 million by 2027.

Levatich joined Harley-Davidson in 1994 and held positions of increasing responsibility in the U.S. and Europe.

“I am proud of what we have achieved during my time as CEO, 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 said.

Listen to the WPR report here.

Harley-Davidson CEO Steps Down was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.

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