Harley Execs Get Paid

March 28, 2012

All Posts, News

Harley-Davidson, the Milwaukee based lifestyle products company, announced yesterday how much its top five executives made last year. The five executives are Keith Wandell, chief executive officer of the motor company; John Olin, the chief financial officer; Matthew Levatich, the chief operating officer; Lawrence Hund who runs Harley’s loan company; and Paul Jones who is the company’s chief lawyer.

Together the five men were paid $15,489,477 last year. Harley, which is famous for its motorcycles, sold 233,117 of them in 2011. That is about two-thirds as many bikes as the company sold in 2006. Executive compensation amounts to $66.45 of the price for any new Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

Profits Up

Harley had a profit of $599.1 million last year. The company makes a profit of about $2,600 on every motorcycle it sells to one of its dealers. The company had a profit of only $146.5 million in 2010. Much of the profit increase is the result of slashing jobs and lowering wages at the company’s manufacturing plants.

The company cut about 1,000 of 1,900 jobs at the company’s venerable York (Pennsylvania) assembly plant. The company has also “outsourced” the manufacture of more components than it used to do. Outsourcing allows the company to “focus on efficiencies and core competencies, including making motorcycle frames and engines, painting and assembling bikes.”

More Changes Ahead

This spring Harley will implement a new “production planning system” that will allow the company to more easily lay-off “casual” workers and reduce production inventory when demand for motorcycles drops. At the same time the company intends to make changes at its plants in Wisconsin to help the company make more money with lower sales.

The report does not speculate about how this increased efficiency will effect the quality of its motorcycles.

Last year Wandell made $7,232,147; Olin made $1,785,030; Levatich made $3,065,869; Hund made $2,398,907; and Jones made $1,007,524. The average Harley “casual” employee makes about $16.80 an hour. Those fulltime Harley workers who are still employed by the company make an average hourly wage of about $30.50. Fulltime workers make a little less than one percent of Wandell’s compensation last year.

In an article published 10 days ago, the Wall Street Journal reported: “Tony Wilson, president of the International Association of Machinists union local in Kansas City, said workers felt little choice other than to accept Harley’s conditions. A Harley spokeswoman said the conditions were part of a transformation needed to make the motorcycle maker more competitive.”



18 Responses to “Harley Execs Get Paid”

  1. OneEye Says:

    Which is why I’ll never own a new HD. I’ll stick to my ’95 Evo and just keep rebuilding it. They’re a business; it has nothing to do with loyalty to customers. They’ve tried to disown the only loyal customer base they’ve ever had. So now that they’ve shot the wad they’ll do what every other company does to keep the money in corporate executive’s pockets…fuck the guy on the line.

  2. Austin Says:

    I don’t know much about how this business is run other than that a co-worker wanted to sell H-D in the family owned dealership/shop and were declined re: exclusivity clauses. Or they could have got rid of all those dirt bikes…. but I digress –

    I am in New Orleans this week – just enjoying every damn thing about this town… and I notice a Harley dealership down in the heart of tourism, in the French Quarter, right by Cafe Du Monde. I’m guessing the bulk of thier income must be from rentals. I didn’t have any reason to go inside – so I didn’t. But if you need something, go right around the corner of Jackson Square to the tourist info office where they will give you a cupon for $10 off your purchase…

    Just sayin’

  3. RVN69 Says:

    Every dealership I know of that is close to a major tourist area has a shop like that. Sometimes they do rentals, mostly they sell T-Shirts, sunglasses, shot glasses, you know trinkets. Kind like the junk we used to buy Long Island from the indians!

    The excuse all corporations use to justify cutting salaries while giving bonuses to the management is that they need “the best possible person” to run the corporation. This of course doesn’t explain how CEO’s get bonuses (golden parachutes)after they have bankrupted a corporation.

    After working for Harley for 15-16 years the biggest problem I see is they became a publicly traded corporation. When a company is private they are responsible to their customers and to their employees. Once a corporation goes public they are responsible to their shareholders, happy shareholders, happy CEO. That is a very big difference, and I believe that is what causes some of the business decisions that drives the love hate relationship we have with them.

    Honesta Mors, Turpi Vita Potior.

  4. Glenn S. Says:

    Took my bike to Harley of Greenville on Tuesday, for the 20K service. Its under extended warrenty, so I have it done there instead of doing it myself or having it done at a friend’s shop. Anyway, it was running fine when I got there. Two hours (three hours labor on the bill) and $340 later, I ride away and there’s this terrible grinding noise coming from the primary. Took it back and they said they couldn’t get to it until next fucking Tuesday or later. The service manager was adament that it was nothing they did, but, hey, I expect my bike to run as good or better after leaving their service department, not worse. And if there’s a problem, I sure as fuck don’t expect to go to the back of the line.

    I’ve bought two bikes and have spent a lot of money at that dealership. I’m gonna go up there in a few and see if they’ve at least looked at it. If not, I’m gonna show my ass.

  5. BadMagic Says:

    I bought a FLHTK last year. Pre-paid the maintenance. Got the extended warranty and the wheel/tire warranty. I work in the gaming (gambling) business and am fully aware that these warranties are for profit. Normally I don’t pay for insurance / warranty. However, in this case I’m gambling that I ride way more than they are counting on. Tire warranty already paid for itself. It is a unique situation when the local HD shop has to find ways of giving me service in order to get paid. So far it has worked out. I’ll let you know for sure at the end of 3 years….

  6. Dante Says:


    Sounds like Jamaica – there are several HD stores but you would have a tough time finding *any* HD bike on the entire island!

    I stopped by my local HD shop yesterday and not only did they try to sell me the wrong part (this is the second or third time), apparently I am no longer in their MVP database. I suppose it could be because I routinely loudly announce what it says on the “Made in ….” tag and have been asked in the past to refrain or leave.

  7. Helipilotguy Says:

    I can’t say enough about Timberwolf Harley in Spokane, I have never been treated better at any dealership. They get that good business is return business and untill they prove me wrong they will get mine.

    Shitty for the factory guys tho but thats how the whole worlds going now days. Middle class is going the way of the dinosaur.

  8. Slam Says:

    RVN69:”…….When a company is private they are responsible to their customers and to their employees. Once a corporation goes public they are responsible to their shareholders…..”

    Unfortunately, it is just that simple!

  9. Glenn S. Says:

    Got a phone call while I was at work. My bike is fixed and I can pick it up first thing in the morning. Didn’t even have to show my ass. They were working on it when I got there. Wonder if it had anything to do with my posting basically the same post I posted here earlier on their facebook page.

  10. YYZ Skinhead Says:

    I wanna temporary H-D bar and shield tat for my forehead. Then I can be a real biker and look as cool as that severed arm at the top of the page.

    YYZ Skinhead

  11. KK Says:

    Glenn, Glad to hear you had received some decent customer service. Hopefully the sled holds up for years to come without any major headaches. Some dealers just don’t care about ass shots (LOL) anymore they have shoved every possible excuse up the customers balloon knot for years now.

    They unloaded just about the entire crew where I am located, sales force always comes & goes but the mechanic side I was really surprised on , some real decent wrenches got fkd. All young dudes now.

    Remember the days not to long ago (05,06? )when they had waiting lists to get a sled, people suing the dealerships because they weren’t next in line. hahaha Charging $5 or $6 grand extra for some chrome. Mikes Famous in Delaware was classic for that.

    Never had the cash or the credit for a new one though. Some of those payment books are like 3 inches thick, no thanks.

    $110.00 per hour they charge to turn a wrench here at HD, most of em don’t know dick ,especially on the Knuckle,Shovel or Pans. I usually here when I meet some of the young mechanics, my Dad or Uncle worked on those kind.


  12. Stroker Says:

    Rebel…….Thank you for another thought-provoking topic.
    I think I can offer some (thoughts that is) from my somewhat unique
    perspective. I have spent over 40 years as a Ford Parts Manager. So
    what? Well, I have learned a lot about the public’s perception, as well
    as FoMoCo’s business practices, which are not that dissimilar from
    Harley’s. When people come to the dealership to get service, or buy a
    part, they think they are buying from Ford (or Harley). Nothing could
    be further from the truth. All Ford and Harley dealerships are “Factory
    Authorized”, that is, they can sell the brand. They are (generally) not
    owned by “The Company.” (I say “generally” because there are stores that
    “The Company” may “set-up” for a time, that is: finance, until the
    store’s owners can prove themselves, and take over payments).
    So what you are dealing with, when you enter a Ford/Harley dealership
    is usually a locally owned enterprise, that to exist, must jump thru
    all kinds of hoops, to be allowed to sell the factory’s product, be it
    parts or vehicles. Dealerships are generally not huge money-makers. It
    might seem that way, when you consider the prices they charge for parts
    or a sweatshirt, but in reality all dealerships are simply marking up
    their vehicles or parts to try and make a profit, over and above what
    they pay the factory. In the Ford parts business, this may mean a
    bottom-line profit of about 10%. For vehicles, it’s 2 to 5% profit.
    We dealers actually take it in the shorts from the factory when it comes
    to buying “Genuine” parts. I have personally seen invoices from vendors
    to Ford, that were inadvertantly left in the part carton, that shows
    Ford is making a 300 to 400% profit off of me! Harley is, I’m sure, the
    same. So, dealers are not the bad guys when it comes to prices, we’re
    simply doing the best we can to survive in this new day and age. Why is it so tough these days? Blame our government! I’m not going to blame Obama for the current state of affairs (although I don’t like him)….
    this mess started years ago, when our governemnt started allowing “Fair-
    Trade” and programs like it. Our government (congress) allowed our
    companies (Ford GM Harley etc) to buy parts “off-shore” and then import
    them back here to the good ol’ USA for little or no duty. Why? because
    out frggin’ congressmen have been BOUGHT! Lobbiests own us now, we
    no longer have a democracy, it is, in fact, a Kleptocracy! We are being
    controlled by big business. They move factories off-shore, to make
    parts cheaper. All the businesses that our fore-fathers worked at to
    grow, are now being allowed to forget their heritage, and sell out the
    American worker. That’s one of the reasons you see such high profits
    for the “owners” or “CEOs” of Harley, Ford General Electric and others.
    What can we do? Buy American as much as possible, but the short story
    is: Harley and Ford don’t give a fuck about the American worker. They
    can get shit made cheaper off-shore (read China, Brazil etc.).
    “Down-size” is the name of the game here in good ol’ yousa, and work
    for less is the company’s mantra, while the fat cats at the top
    rake it in. Fair?
    “Fair’s” got nuthin’ to do with it!

    Food, Water and Ammo! Stock up bro…………!

  13. Chip Says:

    What messes with me and always will is that to finance a new or used bike at any H-D Dealership (at least around here, SC), is the monopoly Harley Davidson Motor Credit (HDMC) has on the purchase/financing. Indirect auto lending happens at all Automobile Dealerships (ie – You don’t necessarily have to use Ford Motor Credit to buy a new Mustang). If for whatever reason, you are turned down by HDMC you’re SOL. There’s no option for the Dealership to shop the loan out to other indirect lenders. So, you might have a great relationship with your Credit Union or Bank but the F&I Manager at the Dealership isn’t “allowed” to even make a phone call to try to find you an alternative source of financing. And, God forbid you had a prior loan with HDMC go South in the past (as in anytime in the past, like even 10 or 20 years ago), HDMC NEVER FORGETS. You’ll get less time for a Bank job than you will from HDMC which amounts to Life w/o parole. The customer who can’t pay cash and can’t for whatever reason qualify for HDMC has to go out with a purchase order and shop the loan out themselves, that’s if they will let you leave the Dealership with the purchase order (which they won’t if there’s more than one Dealership in the City where you are). Bet they lose a lot of business over this foolishness. Ah well.

  14. Glenn S. Says:

    Despite my experience with the local H-D dealership’s service department last week, my experience with the dealership itself (the element of it that sells mororcycles) has been overwhelmingly positive: When I decided to buy a motorcycle, I figured I’d start with a Sportster as being the cheapest (despite all of my friends saying: “A fucking SPORSTER! You won’t like it for long. I’ve got an old shovel I’ll sell you for less. Ah, if I knew then what I know now…). So I went to Harley of Greenville, just to look and compare. The owner approached me and asked if he could help. I asked how much for the new Sportster and he to;d me. I was short a couple of grand and I told him I’d be back after I sold my Rolex watch. He offered me fair market value for my Rolex on the spot and I bought the Sportster. My friends were right, in three months I wanted a full sized Harley. (Hell, how was I to know I’d love riding so much that everything else in my life would seem insignificant in comparison?) So I mentioned to the dealership’s owner that I was looking for a good deal on a Dyna, but I didn’t have a whole lot of money. I was considering selling the new Sportster and maybe buy an older Dyna. He called me a few days later. He’d taken a three month old Dyna in trade for a Road King (guy’s wife wanted to ride with him and they were both big). He offered me a deal about two grand less than fair market. Don’t know why he did this, but I felt like he lost money he otherwise could have made. He and I found that we had some mutual friends, but nothing so strong as to lose money over. Maybe he saw this jailhouse tattooed, ex-convict looking guy come into his dealership, standing out amongst the yuppies buying expensive trinkets for their wives and riding 10-year-old Ultra Classics with 2000 miles on the odometer and decided to give an old crook that would fall in love with his brand of motorcycle a break. Anyway, that’s what I like to think.

  15. Snow Says:

    Love the machine, hate the company has never rang truer. Fuck Harley Davidson corporate department…Oh Austin. the shop in the French Quarter is strictly a souvenir shop for the tourist that never make it out.

  16. BadMagic Says:

    Got my bike back after 10K PPM on Wed. The mech tuned it for me. Holy shit what a difference. I had the dealer do a shit ton of upgrades within the 60 day purchase so it would be covered under both standard and extended warranty. Whatever the kid did, it is running a lot better. Smother, faster, etc. No charge. After riding it Wed. night I went and bought him a case of beer for lunch on Thurs. If you can swing it and ride the shit out of a bike, the Pre Paid Maintenance has its advantage. The biggest being that the local dealership bills the Moto Company for the work. The more they give me for free, the more they make from the company. Only hope I get treated the same when in other states for the next few years. We’ll see. So far, so good. And the local dealer doesn’t have a good reputation.


  17. whitefxrp Says:

    I’m an independent mechanic,dealer,call you what you will, and I’ve purchased many “used” Harleys over the years,some from private sellers,some from main dealers who could’nt put them on the shop floor, because they were “to old” for finance,had customising too “extreme” or even for not having Dunlop tyres for fucks sake.Here in the UK most dealership sales staff are more used to selling Mercedes,BMW etc and have crossed over to bikes,the parts counter guys vary from those who don’t know anything unless you point it out to them in the P&A catalog to some very knowledgable,helpful guys,so there is some hope if you need spares, depending on the shop near you.I stopped trading in Twin Cams some years ago as they kept coming back with terminal problems,usually at low mileage,(15-20,000) they just ain’t worth the hassle.Lots of main dealers have gone to the wall here lately,many only being in the business 5 years or so.My local dealer tried to tempt me with a techs job last year,he offered me $16 an hour,to tow the factory line,I told him I’d rather work on pans,shovels and evo’s for $10 an hour so shove your offer

  18. DirtyBruin Says:

    I think the world needs more businessmen like Jim Sinegal, CEO of Costco. They had net income of just under $1.5 billion in 2011, and Jim’s salary in 2009 was $350k; as one of the founders he gets perks and stock so he usually pulls down a total around $3m a year – but I’m sure the Harley guys detailed above make a hell of a lot more than their official salary too. Given that Harley had a profit roughly 1/3 the size of Costco’s, shouldn’t their CEO be making somewhere around $120k? ;)

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