Millville Harley-Davidson

May 10, 2010

All Posts, News

In case you missed it, another Harley-Davidson franchise went under last week. Millville Harley-Davidson in New Jersey closed two stores, one in Millville and the other in Wildwood, without notice.

Customers were very surprised. “The thing is, I talked to them Friday or Thursday and they never let anybody know anything,” a customer named Kenny Colon told NBC News in Atlantic City last Monday. Colon was there to pick up his motorcycle. “It sucks man, like a swift kick in the you-know-what. I’m not playing no games. I just want my bike. I don’t want none of their business.”

Wildwood is an old beach town. Millville is surrounded by what was once “South Philadelphia in the summertime.” It is May. It is eighty-five degrees at the beach in Los Angeles so how bad can it be in South Jersey? This is riding weather. And Harley-Davidson actually announced a little profit at the end of April. And then there is that Harley advertising slogan, “Screw it. Let’s ride.”

April 20th, Harley Supreme Overlord Keith Wandell “tempered” that optimism, as financial reporters like to say. “Given the global economic uncertainty that still exists,” Wandell announced, “we believe conditions will remain challenging throughout this year, and we will continue to factor that into how we manage the business.” Not exactly “screw it,” is it? Weasel wolfing like that may or may not be part of the problem.

New Improved Harley Slim

What Wandell expects everyone to know without forcing him to say it is that Harley profits are 72 percent lower this year than they were last year. Harley sales are 21 percent lower this year which is kind of bad for people who sell motorcycles and for people who build motorcycles.

“I wish to God I could stand in front of everybody and say that you’re going to be guaranteed a job for life,” Wandell told shareholders last month. “We’d all be great friends and pat each other on the back and walk into the sunset together. You know what? Life isn’t that simple.” Then getting really carried away with himself Wandell promised, “I will come to work every day, roll up my sleeves, work next to you on the line, whatever has to happen to ensure that we are a great company. But I’m not going to tell people something that isn’t true.”

What is true is that Harley is now threatening to move manufacturing out of Wisconsin. Harley ran this same number on Pennsylvania a few months ago. The problem in Wisconsin is the same problem Harley had in Pennsylvania. Workers just want too darn much money.

On the other hand, looking at the bright side, Harley is turning a profit so the value of its stock is up. And while it is true that Wandell’s salary is a mere $981,000, and that last year he earned only $1.25 million in bonuses, it is also true that he has managed to acquire about $6.2 million in Harley stock in the last year. And every time he makes one of those hard decisions the value of that stock goes up just a little bit more.

Meanwhile In Jersey

The hard choices Wandell has “had to make” include shrinking the company to raise the profits and to inflate the value of the stock. It is not just Wandell who has to make hard choices. Other people do, too. Like Sam Macrine. Macrine is the guy who opened Millville Harley-Davison in 1975.

“I just can’t continue to operate,” Macrine told Anthony Bellano of the Bridgeton News. “For the past couple of years, everyone’s been suffering. Nationally, Harley is down. It’s getting harder to operate.”

Macrine promised that customers like Colon, “with bikes still in our store will be able to pick them up. I wouldn’t do anything to hurt anyone.” Then he told the News, “Employees were crying and they were broken-hearted. This was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make…. This week, I went over the books and all the numbers, and I decided I can’t continue. I couldn’t continue to pay all the employees and manage a store…no one’s spending money like they used to spend.”

About a week ago, just about the time Millville Harley was turning out the lights, Wandell was reported to have said that because Harley has to contend “with an aging customer base and overseas competition” the “bigger opportunities” for the company “may lie overseas.”

It is shame Harley-Davidson didn’t hire a Supreme Overlord who actually gets it. Instead Harley hired this Wandell guy.

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9 Responses to “Millville Harley-Davidson”

  1. Twolane Says:

    Kinda look like they’re wanting to show everyone that they’re getting back to their “roots”. Too bad about all those dealers and their shiny new buildings the company forced on them.

    The 210 interchange. Haven’t seen that for a while. Is the Club210 still around?

  2. RVN69 Says:

    I work for a Harley Store, many people believe Wandell was brought in by the stock holders to inflate the value of the company so it could be sold. Don’t know if that is truth or rumor. Do know that the dealership personnel don’t know from one day to the next if they will have a job. We are currently short 5 people in my department, down from 7 last year, 2 people trying to do the job of 7, I see the daily and monthly numbers and know right now we are in the black by big numbers, but only the Owner is rolling in the bucks, we all got pay and benefit cuts. But before I get cut off at the knees by someone who already lost their job, I realize a shitty job does beat the alternative.

    Respect to all that have earned it
    Si vis Pacem, Parabellum.

  3. puterindabasketchief Says:

    I bought a new 09 road glide a year and half ago. My first ever new bike. And while I’m impressed with the new chassis, Harley’s production and qc seem to be suffering–gotta cut somewhere, right? In the first 25k I’ve had just some minor mechanical issues, but the fit and finish pale in comparison to my early RG. The paint is garbage and I’m not sure that they even bothered to clearcoat it.

    The MoFoCo just figures no one really rides these things, so it just has to look purdy at the curb of the local fern bar.

  4. Rebel Says:

    Dear RVN69,

    There was a rumor about five weeks ago that Harley was about to be bought out. So far, still American.


  5. RVN69 Says:

    As I understand it, the company sniffing around HD back then was one of those “corporate raider” types. They buy companies,sell off their assests for profit, then move on to another company. I would hazard a guess that HD’s minuses were greater than it’s pluses at this time so they passed.

    Si vis Pacem, Parabellum.

  6. Marine Rider Says:

    Last month I bought my eight bike, but first Harley. A 2010 CVO softtail convertible. After sportbikes forever the riding position took some getting used to. And after my second ride a little chrome thing fell off the brake caliper onto the floor of my garage. I just had to laugh. The HD reputation lives on!

  7. Uesque Says:

    Interesting that their commercial wants you to express your individuality by riding in a large pack and speaking as one big Borg collective.

  8. pb68slab Says:

    “Those who the Gods would soon destroy , they first make proud!”

    Turn the clock back 10-15 years , when a dealer wouldn’t even talk to you unless ya were willing to fork over $5000 over MSRP , buy a 2-3G ‘official HD accessory package , and wait on a list for two goddamn years , for the privledge of a new Softtail or Roadking. Pimp Daddy Harley was floating on a sea of cash , dictating how dealers would look and act. Dealer/whores were making money hand over fist , turning time honored dealerships into new-age biker boutiques. Dealers who didn’t conform with the new direction , were cast out. Loyal customers? Fuck you if you owned a shovelhead , much less a Pan , Knuck or even an iron sportster. “No parts or service for non-current model thank you , now get that oil leaking antique out of here.”
    BTW , I had to special order and pay in advance for my last case of 60wt!
    10-15 yrs ago , independant shops were getting sued for having anything with the HD name , letters , logo or colors orange and black in or on their shops. Even tattoo shops were getting threatening cease and desist letters for having official HD logos in the flash books. Aftermarket parts companies like S&S were getting sued for making parts for obsolete engines that the Motor Company didn’t support!

    Bet they wish they had all that money they paid lawyers for all those years.


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