CEO Levatich: Harley-Davidson is About Freedom, Less About ‘Made in America’

The President and CEO of Harley-Davidson, Matt Levatich, continuously uses the word “freedom” in nearly all of his public comments.

For Levatich, freedom is one of the core values of the brand, along with independence, strength, individual identity and self-expression.

In a recent conversation hosted by Scale Up Milwaukee, Levatich pointed out how important it is to understand that Harley-Davidson is about being “liberating, not constraining.”

The CEO says a company cannot succeed unless there is a clear understanding of what it stands for, and with Harley-Davidson, it has always been about the same thing: freedom.

He went on to emphasize the company’s core values are liberating, as oppose to “made in the USA” which he implied he found constraining.

International growth is Harley-Davidson’s key priority in its 10-year-strategy, but their plans to move motorcycle production overseas has been criticized by many, most notably by US President Donald Trump.

Expanding his business philosophy, Levatich invoked New Glarus Brewing Co.’s Spotted Cow, famous for the “Only in Wisconsin” branding. He says it’s a perfect example of different points of view, but as far as the business concerns, it’s a significant constraint to growth. Levatich said he admired the company’s willingness to stick to such branding, but “Is that going to work ten years from now?”

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