Motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson has cemented Jochen Zeitz as its CEO. Zeitz had been serving as the company’s acting Chairman and CEO following the departure of former CEO Matthew Levitich in February 2020.
As CEO, Zeitz plans to lead a “necessary and comprehensive overhaul of the company structure, operating model, and strategy,” which will culminate in a new 5-year strategic plan.
Zeitz has served on Harley-Davidson’s Board of Directors since 2007 and was the Chair of the company’s Sustainability Committee since its inception in 2011, where he helped spearhead the brand’s first electric motorcycle. Before joining Harley-Davidson, Zeitz was the Chairman and CEO of German sportswear brand Puma from 1993 to 2011, and is credited with turning around the brand’s near-bankrupt business.
In a press release, Thomas Linebarger, an independent member of Harley-Davidson’s Board of Directors, stated that Zeitz’s “two decades of experience as Chairman & CEO of a leading global company and brand, and his enthusiasm and determination to challenge everything about the company based on his turnaround experience is exactly what we need right now to lead Harley-Davidson to long term success.”
Zeitz officially takes the reigns of Harley-Davidson at a difficult time for the company, which recently experienced its lowest quarterly sales volume in almost 16 years as shipments. This drop in sales led Zeitz to announce plans to cut costs and de-emphasize some of the company’s unprofitable international markets. As Zeitz attempts to turn the company around he will have to navigate supply chain and manufacturing disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.