After being responsible for overseeing the European launch of Buell in 1997, then coordinating Harley’s suppliers with its 5 US factories, then being appointed Managing Director of MV Augusta when Harley-Davidson bought the Italian brand in August 2008, Matt Levatich will become May 1st the new Harley-Davidson President and COO. Below is a letter he just sent to all US dealers. A good opportunity to learn about his strategy that he calls “Creating Silence”…
Dear Dealers, “You hear us say it often – a key reason for the success of Harley-Davidson is our outstanding dealer network, and the passion, dedication and business acumen that you bring to the retail experience as we create customers for life. So, as I begin to prepare to assume my new role as President and Chief Operating Officer of Harley-Davidson Motor Company next month, I wanted to share some brief thoughts on how I am planning to approach working with you—the best dealer network in the motorcycle business, bar none.
First, I want to express not only how honored and excited I am, but also convey what an awesome responsibility I know it is to lead this legendary 106-year-old company that I have come to love over the past 15 years. And I want to assure you that I will do everything possible to provide for our continued mutual success.
There’s no doubt that the market is tough right now, and I fully recognize the challenges that you are facing. But I also know that businesses with strong fundamentals, like the Harley-Davidson motorcycles business, can emerge even stronger and more disciplined from environments like this, if time, energy and resources are properly focused. And because I’ve seen the commitment and dedication you have to this business and the Harley-Davidson brand, I am absolutely confident about our long-term future of mutual success together.
Some of you may recall from when I was the Vice President of P&A in 07 and 08, my belief in working hard to “create silence.” Simply put, “creating silence” means eliminating the noise created by problems—fixing them and delivering results – so that we can all enjoy our mutual success. As we go forward together, my philosophy hasn’t changed. I intend to create silence for you, so in turn, you can focus on taking care of your customers.
And beyond creating silence, I look forward to doing everything we can to take advantage of the many opportunities that lie ahead for all of us to grow and grow profitably – especially through the great products we produce. Dealer profitability is a vitally important part of the decisions we make throughout the organization and how we go to market. After all, profitability is what enables you to provide the kind of customer experience that is so critical to our value proposition.
As we get to know one another better, you’ll learn that what drives me is working hard and finding ways to do things better. And in working hard and doing things better, we create space for having fun, which I also believe is critically important. Fun is the payoff, along with financial reward, and there is no better business where this can all come together with power and purpose than ours.
Speaking of hard work and having fun, those are traits that absolutely describe the Motor Company President for the past eight years, Jim McCaslin. I’d like to thank Jim and acknowledge his tremendous contributions to Harley-Davidson and to the dealer network. Jim has worked tirelessly with you to achieve an enormous amount of success and forge a strong partnership based on trust. We all owe Jim our gratitude for his many accomplishments.
I’m looking forward to building on this foundation to drive future growth, along with Jim in his new role, all of you in the dealer network, our new CEO Keith Wandell and the entire team at Harley-Davidson.
I begin my new responsibilities on May 1 and my first official duty will be traveling on one of the U.S. Dealer Town Hall circuits. The timing couldn’t be better and I look forward to seeing many of you then, and listening to your thoughts and ideas for making this great business even greater” Sincerely, Matt