Following a tough fiscal 2019 where U.S. Harley-Davidson motorcycle sales were the lowest in at least 16 years, the Milwaukee manufacturer announced Feb. 28 that Matthew Levatich stepped down as president and CEO. Current Harley-Davidson (NYSE: HOG) board member Jochen Zeitz will serve as acting president and CEO.
Harley-Davidson appoint Jochen Zeitz as president and CEO
Jochen Zeitz also served as the chairman and CEO of the sporting goods company, Puma from 1993 to 2011.
Harley-Davidson board of directors have appointed Jochen Zeitz as acting president and CEO; Matthew Levatich steps down.
American bike maker, Harley-Davidson announced that the board of directors have appointed present board member, Jochen Zeitz as acting president and CEO. Matthew Levatich has stepped down from his role as the president and CEO and as a member of the board.
Speaking on his new role, Jochen Zeitz said, “The Board and Matt mutually agreed that now is the time for new leadership at Harley-Davidson. Levatich was instrumental in defining the More Roads to Harley-Davidson accelerated plan for growth, and we will look to new leadership to recharge our business. On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank Matt for his 26 years of service to Harley-Davidson. He has worked tirelessly to navigate the company through a period of significant industry change while ensuring the preservation of one of the most iconic brands in the world.”
Furthermore, a board committee is being formed, and the OEM will use an external search firm to find a new CEO. Levatich will be assisting the transition through the end of March. As part of this leadership change, Zeitz has also been named chairman of the Board and will remain chairman once the new CEO is appointed. The current chairman of the Board, Michael Cave will be the presiding director.
Zeitz added, “The Harley-Davidson Board and leadership team will continue to work closely together as we search for a new CEO. We have confidence that our combined leadership experience and deep understanding of Harley-Davidson will ensure an effective transition. As a passionate Board Member of Harley-Davidson, I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues and other Harley-Davidson stakeholders to advance and deliver the company’s strategy and execution during this important time.”
Zeitz has been a member of the Harley-Davidson Board of Directors since 2007 and established the company’s Brand and Sustainability Committee. “I am very fortunate to have spent many years with a company as revered as Harley-Davidson,” Levatich pointed out. “The grit and determination of the employees and dealers and their passion for bringing our brand of freedom to people around the world has always been inspiring. I am proud of what we have achieved during my time as CEO, in one of the most challenging periods in our history, and I am confident that the progress we have made on the More Roads plan will position Harley-Davidson for long-term success.”
Jochen Zeitz also served as the chairman and CEO of the sporting goods company Puma from 1993 to 2011. He was also Puma’s CFO from 1993 to 2005. Zeitz served as a director of luxury goods company, Kering (formerly PPR) from 2012 to 2016. He was a member of Kering’s Executive Committee and CEO of its Sport and Lifestyle division between 2010 and 2012. Zeitz is also a board member of the Cranemere Group and is on the Board of the ‘B Team’ which he co-founded with Sir Richard Branson.