Wandell, who was named president and CEO in May 2009, takes over for Barry K. Allen who has served as a non-executive chairman for Harley-Davidson, also since 2009.
“I am grateful for the confidence the Board has placed in me, since I first came to Harley-Davidson, to work with everyone in this great organization to build a bright future for our company,” says Wandell.
The Company’s first externally-recruited CEO since 1981, Wandell led Harley-Davidson through a difficult economic period. Wandell guided Harley-Davidson through the recession by making some unpopular moves. To reduce costs, Harley-Davidson took a hard stance in collective bargaining with union groups, gaining concessions including job cuts.
It was also under Wandell’s watch that the Company decided to refocus on its core brand, in the process shutting down Buell Motorcycles and selling MV Agusta back to the Castiglioni family.
Those moves, though unpopular, seem to be paying off as Harley-Davidson reported a net profit of $599 million in 2011 compared to a loss of $55.1 million in 2009.
“Keith is a transcendent leader who has done an outstanding job of guiding Harley-Davidson in a period of extraordinary challenge and transformation,” says Allen.
“When Keith joined Harley-Davidson as CEO in 2009, the Board believed it essential for him to be able to devote his full energy to strategies to move the business forward, without the distraction of Board leadership responsibilities,” saysAllen. “With the Company’s tremendous progress under Keith’s leadership over the last three years, the Board believes the time is right to recombine the roles of Chairman and CEO.”