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Posts Tagged ‘Tomahawk’

Brace

News about Harley-Davidson during the month of August has been a bit of a wild ride.

There was the consent decree and $15M settlement with the EPA. Then the announcement that Harley expanded the list of bikes on recall that may have been built with defective hydraulic clutch systems.  Then the biggest engine-product launch for the company since 1988, when the Twin Cam made its debut.

And now today, the day before the Milwaukee Rally kicks off, Harley-Davidson announced that approximately 200 employees will face layoffs starting in October as the company adjusts motorcycle production due to slower sales.

According to various news reports including Rick Barrett, of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the union stated many of the layoffs will take place at Harley’s assembly plant in York, Pa., and some will occur at the engine plant in Menomonee Falls, where the company employs approximately 1,000 people, as well as in Tomahawk.

Given that the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally attendance was down roughly 40% from a year ago (some of which was expected), suggest that some riders are busy doing other things than throttling down rural America’s roads to a rally which makes the launch of its Milwaukee-Eight engine motorcycles key to amp up any new motorcycle sales.

Photo courtesy of Sturgill Simpson Video.

All Rights Reserved (C) Northwest Harley Blog

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Harley-Davidson's new factory in York, Pa.

A new Harley-Davidson motorcycle rolls off the assembly line in York, PA.

You might recall that one of the first moving assembly lines was at Ford Motor Company in 1913.  Until this time automobiles were built one at a time and were quite expensive.  With the Model T, they began experimenting with different production techniques and the conveyor belt system was born.  At its peak a finish Model T came off the assembly line every 10 seconds.

Workers could not stop the line even if parts were wrong.  Workers were not allowed to think on the job.  They were allowed to only do their assigned task and do them ever quicker.  They required almost no skill to perform and were highly repetitive.  Many workers were unfulfilled and became bored and dissatisfied with their jobs.  As a result, absenteeism rose and employee turnover became high.

Fast forward 100+ years and everything has changed, right?.

The “New Factory York” is Harley-Davidson’s largest motorcycle factory.  Once there were 41 buildings on the huge 232 acre plot, but most have been demolished along with 2300 jobs.  The entire manufacturing facility is now housed in one building.  It’s a model of efficiency which H-D plans to “copy-exact” in Menomonee Falls and Tomahawk.  The process is centered on advanced manufacturing techniques that are used at Toyota and Caterpillar that are well known for their quality and efficiencies.

The Milwaukee changes are a com’in… because effective this month adjusted labor contracts went into effect giving the company more flexibility with the workforce.  Similar to the York plant there can be the use of seasonal employees who are not entitled to medical or retirement benefits and receive less pay for the same work done by regular employees.  While still unionized they are paid about $16.80 to $26 per hour versus $30.50 to $38 per hour for regular employees.

But, just like in 1913 not all the workers seem to be infatuated with the changes.  There is a great article written by Rick Barrett at the Journal Sentinel which captures the mixed opinions and whether the transformation has resulted in a better workplace.   We all know that change is messy, but some of the comments had me wondering if some in the workforce would prefer a return to the Model T era.

Photo courtesy of H-D

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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This holiday season I want to thank all of you for your continued support and wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy New Years!

Below is a little poem I crafted for the Harley team…

December 24, 2010

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the Harley house,
Not a manager was stirring, not even a supervisor mouse;
Annual reviews were hung by the HR door with care,
In hopes year-end bonuses soon would be there.

Directors nestled all snug in their beds,
While dreams of promotion danced in their heads;
Ms. Tonit in snowflake sweater, and me in my suspenders,
We’d just settled down to write our year-enders,

When from the 3rd floor there came such a clatter,
I sprang from my desk to attend to the matter.
Clutching my iPhone I flew up the stairs,
Wondering what marketing-caused mayhem I might find there.

With the moon high above the Tomahawk facility
It cast a glow over Financial Services Billing & Eligibility,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a medium-height chap looking quite cavalier.

That glass in his hand, so clearly a Red Zinfandel,
I knew in a moment: Keith E. Wandell!

More rapid than eagles his lieutenants they came,
As he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

“Now Dasher, Now Dancer, & you Curator Bill,
On Joanne! On Mark-Hans! On Enrico! You work here, still?”
“Into my office! At the end of the hall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”

Up they lined, like toy soldiers taking up residence,
It was a small army of regular and senior vice presidents.
And then Keith began banging on his shiny new laptop,
“Yes, Friday’s are Casual Day, but this plant absenteeism has to stop.”

I spoke not a word, and was turning around,
When out of his black-and-orange chair the boss came with a bound.
His eyes — how they twinkled! And this I must, say
His cheeks were like roses, all red like a football fan on a cold Packers day!

His Holiday necktie drawn up tight like a bow,
And the bald of his head was as white as the snow;
He had a broad face and the Harley t-shirt showed a little CEO belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

He wasn’t chubby nor plump, just a jolly old elf,
And I smiled when I saw him, in spite of everyone else;
A wink of his eye and a nod of his head,
Soon let us know that H-D VP’s had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but with fingers quite soft,
He started filling envelopes so fast it made him cough,
And laying a finger aside of his nose,
He gave a wave and twist, down the elevator he goes;

He sprang up on his motorcycle sidecar, to his team gave a shout,
“To Miller Park!” he cried, it’s time to chill out.”
And I heard him exclaim, as he throttled away,
“I have envelopes for all and for all, have a great Harley ridin’ day!”

Photo courtesy of Tom Queoff (USA Snow Sculpting Team)

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

 

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