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Could this be why he retired?

http://seekingalpha.com/article/111077-harley-davidson-s-ceo-to-retire-car-czar-next?source=yahoo


Harley-Davidson, Inc. (NYSE:HOG) announced today [Monday] that President and Chief Executive Officer James L. Ziemer has informed the Board of Directors that he intends to retire in 2009, capping a 40-year career with the Company. The Board of Directors has formed a search committee to review both internal and external candidates. Ziemer will remain in his current role until a new CEO is in place.

“Jim Ziemer has dedicated his entire professional career to Harley-Davidson and has been a great advocate for the Company,” commented Board Chairman Jeffrey L. Bleustein. “All of us who have worked with Jim throughout the years have benefited from his leadership, his selfless commitment to the Company and his contributions to making the brand one of the most admired and successful brands in the world. As an avid and lifelong motorcyclist, Jim also exemplifies the great legacy and spirit of Harley-Davidson.”

Ziemer is a native Milwaukeean who grew up in the neighborhood next to Harley-Davidson’s original Milwaukee factory location on the city’s west side. He started with the Company in 1969 as a freight elevator operator while attending the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Upon earning his undergraduate degree in accounting at UWM, he joined the accounting department where he spent the majority of his career. He was named the Company’s Chief Financial Officer in 1990. In 2005, he was named President and Chief Executive Officer of Harley-Davidson, Inc. Ziemer also serves on the Board of Directors of Textron, Inc.

“Working at Harley-Davidson has been an honor and privilege and has fulfilled a life-long dream for me,” said Ziemer. “I am extremely proud of what our outstanding team of employees and dealers has accomplished together. There is always new and exciting work to be done on Harley-Davidson’s epic journey, and I have great confidence that the powerful combination of our employees, customers and dealers around the world and their passion will continue to fuel the strength of the brand. I am delighted to be able to spend more time with my family and am enthusiastic about the Company’s tremendous opportunities and its prospects for success in the years to come.”


Why maybe the "Car Czar"? Unlike the U.S. auto makers like Ford (F) and GM (GM), Harley Davidson has had a very successful labor union relationship. That is not to say it has been all roses, union relationships never are, but it is to say that both sides have profited handsomely from the arrangement, unlike the auto manufacturers.

That fact alone makes Ziemer the perfect person for the post. He will have little patience for management that turns out inferior products (and way too many lines of them) and the same intolerance for labor unions that want to enrich membership at the expense of shareholders and the company's viability.

Because of his success at Harley Davidson, either side would be hard pressed to object to his appointment unlike GE's (GE) former CEO Jack Welch, whose name has been tossed in the ring but would face strong union objections because of his stance on them. Personally I think Welch would be great but realities just will not allow it.

 

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Not unusual for CEOs to get out before the real fires start to burn the company down, especially if you have been there for 40 years. It's time to let a younger man tote the hose. I would think a change in their business model is called for. You can squeeze just so much blood out of a hog before he croaks. Perhaps they should start by lowering the "house of ill repute prices" they charge customers. By the time this latest financial crisis comes full circle, there will be fewer retailers and those left will be doing business in a different way.
 

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We can only hope
 
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