Harley-Davidson Inc. said Friday it will cut 1,100 jobs over two years, close some facilities and consolidate others as it grapples with a slowdown in motorcycle sales.
The Milwaukee-based company also reported its fourth-quarter profit fell nearly 60 percent, and said it is slashing motorcycle shipments in 2009 to cope with reduced demand.
They are cutting back in other areas as well. Please go read.
Speaking from long experience, I see Harley-Davidsons as space-age stone axes, but people love them. In my 50 years as a motorcyclist and bike mechanic I've watched them go from the choice of cops, outlaws, and long distance riders to status symbols and lifestyle statements, from big, ungainly, slow
objects of derision (Hardly-Go-Davidsons to us Limey riders) to objects of adulation. As motorcycles, they're OK, but they don't do anything particularly well, but their fans don't give a shit. They're big and flashy and expensive and American. Well, except for all the too-many-to-mention world-sourced parts in them.
I've watched The Motor Company, as it is known to the true Harley people, falter and almost fail, reinvent itself and soar to the top. If you had bought 1000 shares at $31 (I think) when H-D went public in '81, you would be a millionaire+ today. It's a hell of a story
It is strictly my opinion, but I think a lot of the Hogs you see were purchased with equity lines on folks' houses during the housing boombubble, and the sales slowdown is a direct result of its crash and the resultant lack of credit and jobs and folks generally tightening their belts everywhere. That's probably obvious enough that I didn't have to say it.
The hard-core Harley guys aren't going to change. They are committed
(or should be. Heh.). You know, the guys who built their own motorcycles out of parts that all started out as parts of many other motorcycles (I've got a lot of funny stories about that kinda shit. Some other time...). Their Hogs will be the last
things they sell. All they need in life is a bedroll and some gas money. The kind of guys who if they get their name in the paper are referred to as 'an unemployed motorcyclist'. A vanishing breed.
Most of the new crop of Harley riders, which is most
of them these days, bought the damn things because they thought it would make them cool or look like badasses, perception as reality, and their parents wouldn't let 'em have one back when it might have helped. See this
and you'll get my drift. They're not
dyed-in-the-wool motorcyclists, and will sell their sleds long before they sell their SUVs and RVs and boats and McMansions and children.
Here's my point: In coming days, there are going to be a lot of terrific bargains on motorcycles, and not just Harley-Davidsons either. In fact, on all sorts of things. If you have been a prudent borrower or have a low debt-to-asset ratio or even have some (gasp!) cash on hand, I think the next round of mortgage rate resets is going to produce a cornucopia of things you might have always wanted for cheap. It's already starting, as evidenced right on your TV, "Two
cars for the price of one
! Buy one, get one free!". Keep your eyes open. Note: it does
help if you're old like me and your house and cars are paid for.
A final note: I've had about thirty motorcycles in my life and I still have about twenty of 'em. Hey, they don't eat
. Some of 'em mess the floor anyway. I've made payments on exactly one
motorcycle. I bought it brand new in '68 on my MasterCharge. It cost $525 and I think I'm still paying on it. All the rest were cash on the barrelhead. My theory is, why make payments on something that's liable to get wadded into a piece of junk by some idiot talking on his cell phone in a Buick? I didn't want to be reminded of it every month. It's never happened, knock wood, but it's something to think about.
Man, it's amazing how one little news item can set ya off on a tangent sometimes.
reference. See "objects of derision".