Essay Sample on Harley-Davidson: Founding a Motorcycle Legacy in 1903

Paper Type:  Case study
Pages:  3
Wordcount:  687 Words
Date:  2023-03-01


Harley-Davidson is a motorcycle company founded in the year 1903 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States. Its estimated net worth is US$37.38 as per 2019. Harley and the Davidson brothers are the sole founders, although a Japanese company currently owns the company. The founding of this motorbike led to the rise of the famous Harley culture. While bikers have been there for a long time, motorcycle riding has been there since the first motorcycles appeared. Mounting a Harley meant having a free spirit towards life and was used by both women and men as a mode of transport, but all that changed after world war 2. In this paper, I am going to discuss Harley's falls and rises.

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The organization has survived many changes in ownership arrangements, unstable economic product, and harsh worldwide competition to become one of the largest bike company. Harley-Davidson is known for its way of customization that brought about the style of motorcycle Chopper. It manufactures its bikes in Pennsylvania, Brazil Milwaukee, Kansas City, Manaus, Wisconsin New York, and Bawal, India. The cooperation has a market worldwide even in worldwide continents like Africa.

In 1901, Harley and his childhood friend came up with an engine that had a displacement of 7.07cubic inches(116cc) and a four-inch (102mm). After testing the power cycle in 1903, it was unable to climb the Milwaukee hills; they decided to call it off and began another project. After a successful second attempt, they opened a factory at their current Harley-Davidson headquarters. The wooden single-story structure then manufactured around 50 motorcycles that year and upgraded it two years later after William graduated from the University of Wisconsin -Madison with a degree in mechanical engineering. By 1913, a new building had been set up along Juneau Avenue around the 38th street, and despite the rivalry, the organization leading among its rivals.

Since the company was already supplying the military with motorcycles, in 1917, the United States joined World War 1, and the military bought bikes for the war. So the government purchased over 20000 vehicles from them. Harley- Davidson manufactured a line of bicycles in 1917 but stopped in 1921. In 1921, Otto walker made a record on a Harley-Davidson as their first motorcycle to win a race at an average speed of 160km per hour. They put several improvements during the 1920s, such as their 45cu in (740cm3) design. The great depression began, and their sales fell from 21000 in 1929 to 3703 in 1933.

To survive the depression, Harley-Davidson manufactured industrial power plants based on motorbike engines. Also, they made a three-wheeled delivery vehicle. During world war 2..again the organization produced a large number of the V-twin motorcycle, which was useful to both private and racetracks buyers. At some point, they built the WLC for the Canadian forces and the Korean war. In 1969, American Machine Foundry (AMF) purchased the company. On purchase, they reduced the workforce and streamlined production. This action affected its social environment, people's beliefs, attitudes, opinions, and individuals' way of living as a unit of the external environment (Wheelen & Hunger, 2010). This led to low-quality motorcycles and labor strikes, making it worse the bikes became a costly and lousy quality, handling, and performance to Japanese the company almost went bankrupt.

On the verge of bankruptcy in the early 1980s, the company found itself facing harsh domestic market conditions. Marking the issue, a small group of creative, hands-on people met to come up with a strategic plan, and they went through a procedure of analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of the company and its competition. They applied the essential four Ps in marketing: Product, promotion, place, and price. The group added a fifth factor, People, which is the critical factor in any business. Implementing the strategy of 'turning left when the competition turns right' motivated the design team to achieve a unique design for its bikes, and the plan worked - other strategies they used where promotions and reduction of their product's prices. We learn how Harley-Davidson was able to get out of its almost broke situation by implementing specific strategies.


Wheelen, T. L., Hunger, J. D., Hoffman, A. N., & Bamford, C. E. (2010). Strategic management and business policy. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.

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