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New Harley czar is an outsider
Keith E. Wandell - He is a great guy that gets stuff done.
He's an outsider, the first executive hired from another company to run Harley-Davidson Inc. in recent memory. And he doesn't even own a motorcycle - although Keith E. Wandell promises to remedy that as one of his first executive decisions.

"I have a bike picked out and am getting ready to make the purchase really quick," said Wandell, 59, hired Monday to replace retiring Harley president and chief executive James L. Ziemer.

"My new motto is 'Screw it, let's ride,' " Wandell added, quoting a line from Harley's latest advertising campaign.

Wandell is president and chief operating officer at Glendale-based Johnson Controls Inc., where he has worked for the past 21 years. He moves to Milwaukee based Harley on May 1.

He is taking over for Ziemer, a 40-year Harley veteran who announced in December that he planned to retire after four years as CEO of the largest U.S. motorcycle manufacturer.

Wandell arrives during a challenging time in which motorcycle sales have slumped because of the recession and the slowdown in consumer spending. Harley's 2008 profit fell 30% to $654.7 million as motorcycle shipments slid 8% to 303,479.

Wandell said he hopes to find new areas for the company to expand, possibly including other types of motorcycles, such as dirt bikes.

"There is unlimited potential for growth in this company when thinking about the young riders, female riders, minority riders and global expansion," Wandell said. "One could argue that there are market segments where Harley really doesn't participate in today."  More at Milwaukee Sentinel Journal

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