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Harley-Davidson 'Rewires,' Eliminates 700 Jobs

Harley hopes the plan will increase efficiencies and make it more competitive.

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Milwaukee-based motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson recently announced "an overhaul of its global operating model, including a leaner, more nimble organization." The plan, dubbed The Rewire, will result in the elimination of 700 positions across the company's global operations. According to a statement from the company, approximately 500 employees are expected to exit the organization by the end of the year.

"The Rewire is progressing very well and substantial work is being done to eliminate complexity and get Harley-Davidson on a path to winning. Our new operating model is simpler, more focused and enables faster decisions across the entire company,” said Jochen Zeitz, chairman, president and CEO of Harley-Davidson. “We’ve taken a hard look at our entire set up, our spending, and how work is getting done, to align our operating model, structure and processes. We are building a strong foundation to drive a high-performance organization in the future.” 

Changes associated with "The Rewire" will impact all areas of the business, from commercial operations to corporate functions. Changes have also occurred higher up within the organization, with Chief Financial Officer John Olin vacating his role. Current VP Treasurer, Darrell Thomas is assuming duties as interim CFO until a successor is appointed. “Significant changes are necessary, and we must move in new directions. I thank John for his commitment during his 17 years with the company and for his leadership during this critical phase of The Rewire,” Zeitz said. 

Harley's release identified the following as key elements of The Rewire:

  • Enhance core strengths and better balance expansion into new spaces.
  • Prioritize the markets that matter.
  • Reset product launches and product line up for simplicity and maximum impact.
  • Build the Parts & Accessories and General Merchandise businesses to full potential.
  • Adjust and align the organizational structure, cost structure and operating model to reduce complexity and drive efficiency to set Harley-Davidson up for stability and success.

The company plans to share a comprehensive summary of The Rewire actions and financial impacts when it releases its Q2 results later this month.

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