Harley-Davidson CEO to retire, replacement named

By Katherine Michalets - Special to The Freeman

Feb. 5, 2015

MILWAUKEE - Harley-Davison, Inc. CEO and President Keith Wandell will retire from the position May 1 and Matthew S. Levatich, current president and chief operating officer of parent company Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Company, will replace him, according to a company announcement Wednesday.

Levatich has also been elected, through board action, to the Harley-Davidson Board of Directors.

“We have accomplished a lot to reposition Harley-Davidson for a bright future, and the most important achievement has been the development of great leaders at all levels of the organization,” Wandell said in a statement. “Our executive team has been integral to the creation and execution of our strategy and assuring a strong company going forward.”

Levatich, 50, joined Harley-Davidson in 1994. Prior to becoming president and COO of Harley-Davidson Motor Company in May 2009, he held wide-ranging roles in the U.S. and Europe.

“It’s a great honor to become the next CEO of this iconic company,” Levatich said in a statement.

“As we look to the future, we believe there are tremendous opportunities to build on our many strengths. Harley-Davidson is one of the world’s most powerful and revered brands, and through our strategies to provide unrivaled products and experiences for our customers, we aim to extend our reach and work to realize our full potential as a growing global company.”

Wandell, 65, became president and CEO of Harley-Davidson, Inc. May 1, 2009, and was elected board chairman in February 2012. During his time as CEO, Harley transformed its manufacturing through a restructuring that is generating more than $300 million in annual savings, according to the company announcement.