Janesville72°

Former motorcycle manufacturer explains business success

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Stan Stricker
October 23, 2008

During these tough economic times, Janesville area business leaders are very interested in success stories.


Harley Davidson Motorcycle is currently a respected leader in the marketplace. Former CEO Rich Teerlink says that wasn't the case in the 1980's. He says a common joke was Harley owners needed two motorcycles. One to ride, and the other for parts. Harley Davidson and its riders may also give the perception they're pretty tough. But Teerlink, speaking during Thursday's Forward Janesville Business Expo luncheon, says it's all about relationships. He says any company that doesn't understand positive relationships is in trouble. He says when he became involved with the company, it was in trouble. He says in their first 24 months of operation, they lost more money than the banks thought they possibly could. So among his secrets to success, differentiating the product from the competition. He says Harley Davidson did this by selling an entire riding experience, rather than just a commodity.


Another key to Teerlink's message includes empowering employees to feel a part of the company's mission.



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