Harley-Davidson Laying Off 200 US Workers

09/01/2016 @ 1:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler32 COMMENTS


News out of Milwaukee is that Harley-Davidson will be laying off roughly 200 workers, as the company adjusts its workforce to reflect expected motorcycle production volumes for the coming year.

This news is directly associated with the current slowdown in Harley-Davidson sales, and as such, the layoffs will affect primarily production line workers.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the layoffs will occur at multiple Harley-Davidson production facilities: 117 employees at the York plant, 35 at the Tomahawk plant, and a handful at the the engine plant in Menomonee Falls.

This isn’t the first time that Harley-Davidson adjusted its workforce volume to match its production needs, though the layoffs do suggest that Harley-Davidson feels that its projected reduction in production numbers is likely to be a long-term situation.

“The company continually reacts to industry and market changes to provide the best products and services to our customers,” said Harley-Davidson spokesperson Maripat Blankenheim, in an email to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

“To that end, as we adjust our production plan to align with 2016 guidance, we are making the necessary changes to right-size the company.”

“As a result, approximately 200 regular and casual union employees will be impacted across our U.S. plants. The majority of impacts are scheduled for the fourth quarter.”

Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

  • Jorge

    Whenever the overall US economy starts to head south HD seems to be the first to feel it.

  • ‘Mike Smith

    This will be wonderful for employee morale. They should have found other ways to cut costs or increase profit. Laying off employees should be a last resort.

  • Christopher Ring

    It very likely was, I’m not a fan of Harley Davidson in general but for the most part they’ve done right by their workers. They were in deep trouble in 2008-9 and had to restructure but management didn’t offshore the entire operation to cut costs, which many companies would have done.

  • Timbo Baggins

    Do you know something that the rest of the world doesn’t? The Dow is near 52 week highs…

  • ‘Mike Smith

    Except for the whole 500/750 India thing. But yeah I know what you are saying. I guess my point is that it is not a large number yet it could affect morale.

  • irksome

    Isn’t the York plant where they replaced union workers with $17 an hr “contract employees” sans benefits a few years back?
    And why do I think they’re not the ones affected?
    I get that it’s a bottom line decision but I don’t see HD making much of an effort (besides marketing changes for same or similar products) to expand their base beyond the aging white guys who, around my neck of the woods at least, seem to be buying a ton of trikes.

  • irksome

    A better gauge is consumer spending which has been consistently high this year and which continues apace.

  • C’mon Man

    What goes up, must come down.

  • Christopher Ring

    I’m certain it will but HD is a extremely tricky business situation. They core demographic is decreasing steadily due to age and they’ve never had any real success outside of that core demographic. That’s going to mean slowly decreasing sales for at least the intermediate term. That means protecting your cash reserves, ensuring good relationships with vendors and suppliers because you’re probably going to need them to take a leap of faith with you in the near future as you pivot your brand to something with a wider demographic appeal in the near future.

  • Chris Jackson

    HD is one bad flu season away from having no customers… (I kid, I kid. Kind of.)

  • Helmut_Schmidt69

    It’s so damn simple. Thousands of people would rather buy a standard HD rather than a Thaiumph Bonneville. I’d pay an extra grand or two just to have the thing made in the US. Classic has been cool for years now, but HD keeps producing the same gay cruiser crap.

  • irksome

    In my neck of the woods, all the old white guys are starting to buy trikes. Like, noticeably. From zero to a seeing hundred around in two or three years.
    I’m assuming HD plans a chrome rack for their walkers.

  • Jake F.

    Winter is coming…

  • ‘Mike Smith

    No arguement there. I just think that if your trademark is American Quality, then you should put your money where your mouth is. 200 employees is nothing when it comes to money. They probably make less combined in a year than one upper executive. Who’s more valuable? Tough choice. Personally, I hate firing people. Makes me sick, not my forte but sometimes it’s gotta happen.

  • Eric

    Hey, don’t knock em; we all get old eventually. At least they’re still out riding, instead of sitting on the porch.

  • D3

    Yeah, it’s tough. I guess their projected sales are not going to be super strong, so therefore they would either have idle workers, or an excess of stock to shift if they kept the workers going. Makes more sense to cut the workers, rather than have risks associated with holding old stock of bikes, and going on to sell them later. (maybe not, if their market is starting to downturn a bit).

    Plus, if they suddenly do find they are getting orders above their projections, it wouldn’t take too much to get some more workers in.

  • Phil Klostermen

    What does that have to do with Main Street in America?

  • Brett Lewis

    I’m seeing more trikes too, but it’s 2 Goldwings to every Harley.

  • Randy M

    Buying a Harley is more expensive
    Owning a Harley is more expensive
    Parts for a Harley are more expensive
    Service for a Harley is more expensive
    Clothing that says Harley is more expensive
    Everything about Harley is more expensive
    And noone gives a $h|t if you own a Goldwing!!!
    -Bikers for Trump!!!-

  • Randy M


  • Randy M

    Amen brother…

  • Paul McM

    Yep, at 60 I have three bikes now, and ride more than I ever did, 1000 miles/mo on two wheels. Big help is having a DR650 for short hops and around town. Light, simple, compliant suspension works for most urban riding. I kind of chuckle at the college boys in their beat-up (often dropped) 600 supersports with awful riding positions.

  • Paul McM

    All of the above may be true except that Service for a BMW or Ducati is even more expensive, and in my neck of the woods (SoCal) the nearest “not mind-blowingly incompetent” service for BMW or Ducati is 50 miles away.

  • Trevor Schultz

    Absolute crap. They just launched the 8V 107 engine in the touring line. I have ridden this new engine in a 2017 Road Glide special. I can tell you this. This is the best Harley Davidson package they have ever built.

    Their will be a demand for this engine not only in the touring line but in other lines like the Dyna and Softails.

  • Jorge

    HD’s Chief Exec, Matt Levatich isn’t complaining about their customer’s avg age or lack of product development. He is pointing at overall economic factors. This started with a dismal Q4 for them last year and it hasn’t gotten better. (Let that sink in, almost a year later and not looking better.) Smart guy that knows the industry well so why is this happening when consumer spending is so high and the Dow is at its high? Is he just making an excuse? I’ll give you a hint, he’s telling the truth. Read up on consumer debt and learn something. Give it a year and YTY bike sales for everyone will be down.

  • Tom Jahn

    The 35 jobs lost at the Tomahawk plant is a big deal. That community is small, but Harley is a big employer in this rural town.

  • Tom Jahn

    That’s why Victory and Indian are doing so well.

  • imprezive

    200 employees cost $10 million/yr if you assume a burdened cost of $25/hr. I would assume the actual cost is closer to $50/hr so you are talking a good chunk of change since that will all fall to profit.

  • ‘Mike Smith

    That’s assuming they sit idle.

  • imprezive

    It assumes that their work can be absorbed by the rest of the organization without adding headcount and/or is simply no longer needed because output is less. Those seem like fair assumptions otherwise they wouldn’t be laying people off.

  • pcontiman

    Maybe there’s work at Polaris….you can only hope.

  • pcontiman

    that’s cold CJ, cold.