Jeramey Jannene

Harley-Davidson Reveals Plans For Future of Corporate Campus

Jobs from Silicon Valley, a STEAM lab and a racing team headquarters are planned.

By - Jun 24th, 2024 04:47 pm
Davidson Park. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Davidson Park in front of the Harley-Davidson headquarters. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Harley-Davidson CEO Jochen Zeitz sent shockwaves through Milwaukee in October 2022 when he told business publication Bloomberg that the company would “repurpose” its 500,000-square-foot headquarters on the city’s West Side.

On Monday, he delivered a sense of calm.

The company isn’t returning to its pre-pandemic in-office policy, but it is bringing white-collar jobs from Silicon Valley to Milwaukee and making several other changes to the campus.

“A lot has changed in 120 years, but there’s one that hasn’t, that won’t change ever. And that is Juneau Avenue is our home,” said Zeitz during a ribbon cutting ceremony for Davidson Park.

The $20 million park was built atop four acres of surface parking lots that became available when the company switched to a remote-work policy during the pandemic’s onset. It maintains a hybrid work arrangement.

But Zeitz, who splits his time between New Mexico and Milwaukee, said the company is happy to have its campus as a community anchor.

“We could not be more proud to be part of the Near West Side, to be part of the community here in Milwaukee,” said the CEO.

It built the park as a result of an “appreciative inquiry summit” in 2021, which it held with Near West Side Partners and other community stakeholders.

But Zeitz said it is just the first phase of the campus changes.

“I’m also excited to announce the next phase of investment here with some new additions,” he told the crowd of more than 100 onlookers.

It will repurpose some of the space in the complex as a STEAM, science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics, lab. The space would encompass approximately 5,000 square feet.

“The STEAM will enable Harley-Davidson to further partner with local organizations and schools to provide students direct access to resources in addition to mentoring from our talented employees, where they can experience hands on learning, all while encouraging career exploration in STEAM fields,” he said.

The Harley-Davidson racing team headquarters will also be established in the complex. The 14-member team competes in the “King of the Baggers” series. A public facing component for visitors would be included.

“Everything we want to do, we want to do it in a way of activating the space,” said Tori Termaat, chief human resources officer and head of the Harley-Davidson Foundation.

LiveWire Move

Most substantially, new workspaces will be built for Harley-Davidson employees and a consolidation of LiveWire employees.

LiveWire, a 2022 spinoff company created to sell electric bikes, will see employees relocated from a laboratory in Mountain View, California and a facility in Wauwatosa.

The move, first signaled in April, is intended to save money as LiveWire scales up its sales. An employee roster reduction is also expected as part of the move.

Zeitz, in an interview, said more information would be available in October.

The CEO and Chairman said the company’s hybrid work arrangement calls for employees to “come together when there’s a need to come together.”

Many employees are in the office early in the week, said Zeitz. “We keep a flexible budget, but always make sure that we do come together for those projects and collaborative initiatives where everyone needs to be in the room,” he told Urban Milwaukee.

The company, said a representative, will build spaces more deliberately designed for hybrid work arrangements.

“I have an office space that’s accessible to everybody here as well,” said Zeitz.

“Harley-Davidson University” continues to operate on the campus as a home for training dealer’s employees. Three classes were taking place Monday said Termaat.

More than 100 Harley-Davidson employees are in the complex daily, she said.

According to its year-end 2023 10-K filing, Harley-Davidson’s global workforce includes approximately 6,400 employees. The filing says 5,600 work directly for the company, 200 for LiveWire and 600 for a field services arm. Eighty-four percent of the employees are based in the United States and 2,400 are represented by unions in manufacturing roles.

As of Monday’s close of trading, Harley-Davidson had a market capitalization of $4.6 billion, while LiveWire had a market cap of $1.5 billion.

The brick headquarters complex is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The company ceased manufacturing at its Juneau Avenue campus in the early 1970s, but acquired several surrounding properties to expand the campus footprint. The oldest portion of the complex dates back to 1910.

For more on Harley and Davidson parks, see our coverage from earlier Monday.

Davidson Park Ribbon Cutting Photos

2022 Site Photos

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