Harley-Davidson President and CEO Matthew Levatich Steps Down

Rennie Scaysbrook | February 29, 2020

Harley-Davidson’s President and CEO, Matt Levatich, has parted ways with the Bar & Shield brand, it has been announced, with the Board of Directors appointing board member Jochen Zeitz as Acting President and CEO.

The move ends Levatich’s 26-year relationship with Harley-Davidson, and comes in one of the toughest times in the company’s history, with U.S. bike sales their lowest in 16 years.

Matthew Levatich Steps Down
Levatich’s removal from Harley-Davidson ends a 26-year relationship between himself and the company.

“I am very fortunate to have spent many years with a company as revered as Harley-Davidson. 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.”

Under Levatich’s leadership, Harley-Davidson’s share price has fallen a massive 46 percent. This despite Levatich fostering the More Roads To Harley-Davidson program that included the company’s push into the electric motorcycle and e-mobility sphere, with Harley-Davidson currently the only major manufacturer (not including Zero Motorcycles) to have a full-size electric motorcycle in its line up in the LiveWire.

As for the new blood, Jochen Zeitz has been a member of the Harley-Davidson Board of Directors since 2007 and established the Company’s Brand and Sustainability Committee. He served as 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 & Lifestyle division from 2010 to 2012. Zeitz is also a Board Member of the Cranemere Group Limited and is on the Board of The B Team which he co-founded with Sir Richard Branson.

A committee of the Board will be formed, and the Company will utilize an external search firm to undertake a search for a new CEO, and a further announcement will be made at a later date. Levatich will assist with the transition through the end of March.

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Rennie Scaysbrook | Road Test Editor Rennie Scaysbrook is our Road Test Editor. A lifetime rider, the Aussie made the trek across the Pacific to live the dream in the U.S. of A. Likes puppies and wheelies.