Matt Levatich to Become Harley-Davidson CEO Starting May 1, 2015
Harley-Davidson is putting a new man in charge of the company beginning on May 1, 2015. Matt Levatich, the company’s current president and chief operating officer, will assume the role as chief executive officer of the motorcycle company , taking over from current CEO Keith Wandell until his retirement on May 1, 2015. In addition to his new role as company CEO, Levatich has also been named to the company’s Board of Directors.
The management reshuffling comes at a time when Harley-Davidson is experiencing tremendous sales success in the US and abroad. Last year, the company reported selling 267,999 motorcycles, a 2.7-percent increase from its sales numbers (260,839 bikes sold) in 2013. It’s not a record-setting year, but the sales number is still considered a major success for the company as it begins its 2015 run.
With Levatich now in place as the CEO-in-waiting, the company can move forward with the execution of its 2015 business plan without having to worry about finding a successor to Wandell upon his retirement. That would’ve been a major distraction that Harley thankfully nipped in the bud before it became a bigger problem.
In Levatich, the company seems to have found the man it’s comfortable becoming its top dog. The 50-year old executive has been with the company since 1994 so he’s already well ingrained into the business culture of the company. In that time, he’s held a number of management positions before becoming President and COO in 2009. At the very least, he has Wandell’s vote of confidence, something that can’t be understated in a business like this.
“Matt’s tremendous leadership abilities and track record, together with his drive for excellence and deep knowledge of the business, make him an outstanding choice as Harley-Davidson’s next CEO,” the retiring CEO said in a statement. “He has been a driving force behind our focus as a customer-led organization, and the innovation and continuous improvement that are expanding Harley-Davidson’s industry leadership. I have great confidence in the company’s future under Matt’s guidance.”
Click past the jump to learn more about Harley’s decision to name Matt Levatich as its new CEO.
Why it matters
Hiring someone who already knows the intricacies of Harley-Davidson’s business practices is important in this kind of business. It’s more important in the case of Harley given the recent sales success it has in recent years. With Levatich in the fold, the company now has a CEO that can easily transition from his old role to his new one without having to get used to how things are done in the company.
Besides, it’s not like Levatich doesn’t have the credentials. Before becoming COO back in 2009, the man held many positions within the company, including time spent as Vice President and General Manager of Harley-Davidson’s Parts and Accessories business, Vice President of Materials Management, and President and Managing Director of the Company’s former MV Agusta business.
Make no mistake, though, Levatich will have some big shoes to fill. His predecessor, Wandell, is largely credited for transforming the way Harley-Davidson does business, which in turn, has resulted in the company enjoying unprecedented success under his watch. Like I said, Levatich has some big shoes to fill.
Fortunately, he seems to be up for the job, although only time will tell if he lives up to all the expectations being heaped on him right now.