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Harley-Davidson CEO gets $6.4 million pay package in 2009

AP Auto Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — The CEO of Harley-Davidson Inc., who took over the motorcycle maker part way through 2009, received a pay package valued at $6.4 million during his first eight months on the job, according to a regulatory filing.

Keith E. Wandell received a base salary of $650,025 from his start date of May 1 through the end of 2009, according to proxy a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. He received a bonus of $780,030 and stock and option awards valued at $4.9 million at the time they were issued.

He also received other compensation worth $22,515, which includes a cash payment of $19,733 instead of perquisites.

Wandell, 60, replaced James L. Ziemer, who retired last year after 40 years with Harley-Davidson and four years as its CEO. Before taking over Harley, Wandell was chief operating officer of the car battery and building ventilation systems maker Johnson Controls Inc.

During his final four months as CEO, Ziemer received a pay package valued at $2.9 million. That includes a base salary of $455,144, a bonus of the same amount and stock and options valued at $1.9 million when they were granted.

He received other compensation worth $44,221, including $14,800 in cash instead of perks and $22,521 in contributions to a deferred compensation plan.

The Milwaukee-based motorcycle maker has hit hard times recently as consumers put off buying its high-end bikes. The company ended the fourth quarter with a loss $218.7 million, its first quarterly loss in 16 years.

The company has been laying off workers, closed factories and shuttered or sold unwanted brands.

The AP’s total pay calculations include executives’ salary, bonus, incentives, perks, above-market returns on deferred compensation and the estimated value of stock options and awards granted during the year.

The calculations don’t include changes in the present value of pension benefits, and they sometimes differ from the totals companies list in the summary compensation table of proxy statements filed with the SEC.


  1. You know it is very interesting how we buy into a belief that the so called economy is lulled. Obviously Kieth didn’t buy into that belief. Lets all show up in Sturgis, make some noise and have an impact on speaking truth into this group conscious imposed belief of lack. There is just as much money on this planet even more and by telling the truth about how much money is available for all of us we can’t help but stimulate our economy. Just get that there is enough for everybody to have as much as they want and it doesn’t hurt another to amass wealth.
    Rob Sturgis Rally 2010 Dude

  2. I think they are losing touch. I got two bikes, all HD clothes and stopped by the plant in KC to see if they would take a couple of flyers about a bike show run by the chamber of commerce and they treated me like a vandal.

  3. I live in Milwaukee, and it’s really a shame how the execs are treating the workers. Yes and H-D is a luxury item, and yes sales are down. But Keith Wandell is not a true motorcycle person. This present threat to move is, in my opinion, one of the worst examples of corporate greed as of late. I believe that he and the rest of the suits want to move the manufacturing operatons to a cheaper part of the USA so they can award themselves huge bunuses and salaries.

    The question that the Harley union workes need to ask themselves is: can they find a job that will pay as much as they will make after the cuts? I do believe that the rank and file should take a cut in order to preserve their jobs and the brand in Milwaukee and Wisconsin, but I also believe that the cuts need to be made at the corporate level also. First, Wandell needs to leave…get out..bye bye, and a person who really understands the H-D heritage should go in as CEO. Second, the upper and middle management needs to take a 50% cut. After all, they’re playing to the stock holders..and the less money that the suits make, the more money the stock holders make.

  4. I agree with Freer, I wouldn’t buy a Harley if I won the lottery right now. Why is it always the workers who have to give so that the suits can make these large bonuses. Some of my closest friends are bikers and of course they still ride Harleys, wouldn’t it be a good time for them to step up to the plate for the workers. Mr. Sturgis, with all respect, you are right about there is enough wealth to kick-start this economy, but it does hurt the worker when it is done in this way. Here in Wisconsin there is a great Harley tradition, and for them to try to blackmail us the way that they did was uncomprehensible.

  5. Birth: Oct. 4, 1959
    Fort Atkinson
    Jefferson County
    Wisconsin, USA
    Death: Mar. 2, 2010
    Rock County
    Wisconsin, USA [Edit Dates]

    Well-known Wisconsin anti-noise activist, author and speaker.

    George A. Atwood died unexpectedly at his home in Milton, Wisconsin at age 50.

    George Atwood was an electrician for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and an active, vocal member of Noise Free America and a steadfast fighter for the right to enjoy life without unnecessary noise. In the months and weeks before his suicide, George was in constant contact with Wisconsin legislators and in personal appearances at legislative sessions in Madison. George Atwood is credited with bringing the problem of ambient outdoor noise to the attention of Wisconsin lawmakers and thereby impacting legislation to protect citizens from lax noise control and related enforcement.

    At the time of his death, he was working strenuously on the problem of motorcycle noise in Wisconsin. He had single-handedly stopped the Wisconsin state legislature from making Harley-Davidson the official “state motorcycle” by testifying before a Wisconsin state Assembly committee, and he was preparing to testifying before a Wisconsin state Senate committee on the issue.

    He had been a guest on a call-in program over a La Crosse radio station on the topic of avoidable ambient noise, and some callers were personally hostile.

    His editorials and letters on the issue of *avoidable* motorcycle noise were published in a number of newspapers, including the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Wisconsin State Journal. Just before his death he had drafted a letter which he was going to personally deliver to all members of the Wisconsin state legislature concerning *intentionally-created* motorcycle noise.

    George’s article “Too Noisy” appeared in the February 8, 2010 edition of the Daily Jefferson County Union (

    “Several weeks ago, state Senator Spencer Coggs and state Representative Leon Young, both Milwaukee Democrats, introduced a bill to honor Harley-Davidson as Wisconsin’s official state motorcycle. This is an atrocious idea. The thunderous noisemaking of Harley motorcycles promotes lawlessness and disorder, and should not be celebrated.

    “I am very sensitive to the loud noise and vibrations of the Harleys. I find it tormenting and distressing. Loud Harleys fire 5-50 explosions per second, creating thunderous noise.

    “Harley motorcyclists are changing their mufflers to intentionally make them loud. This is a violation of the federal Noise Control Act of 1972, which prohibits modifying a motorcycle exhaust. Since 1983, the US Environmental Protection Agency has mandated that any new motorcycle sold in the United States must contain a stamp or label certifying that the noise from the bike’s exhaust system does not violate federal noise standards. This law is currently being strictly enforced in Denver and Boston. It needs to be strictly enforced in Wisconsin. Loud Harley motorcycles are breaking the law.

    “Harleys hurt people. The noise stresses people. The noise ruins the quality of life in our residences, neighborhoods, and the country. It frightens and intimidates people.

    “Many people have squandered a great deal of money to buy Harleys. What does society have to show for all the money diverted into Harleys and illegal after-market mufflers? This is wasted, unproductive economic activity. It also leads to further economic decline, by stressing the public out with noise hell.

    “Loud motorcycle noise causes hearing loss. Noise-related stress leads to higher medical care costs, as well as loss of productivity and peace of mind.

    “Noise is used as a means of torture, to coerce confessions. Why would our state want to be associated with a symbol that has such destructive potential?

    “Harley stands for noise! Harley stands for frightening and intimidating people. It stands for arrogance, callousness, lawlessness, drunkenness, and revelry. Harley symbolizes defiance and shamelessness.

    “Our legislators should not submit to populism and pandering; they should not ride on the wave of Harley’s cult popularity. Harleys bring out the worst in people and devalue what is good. Harleys are dishonorable.

    “Harleys enable and encourage people to hurt others and disobey laws. These are not virtues to hold up as a symbol of Wisconsin.

    “Harley symbolizes violence. People need peace and order. Harleys stand for noise and disorder. If the state promotes Harleys, it would be giving free advertising to the noise industry.

    “If we are going to honor the Harley as one of Wisconsin’s treasures and creations, then what else can our state honor that hurts society?

    “Land mines used to be manufactured in Wisconsin. Would a state legislature ever consider designating the land mine as the official state weapon—all in the name of saving jobs and helping the state economy? Of course not.

    “The Harley is a weapon. Recognition of Harleys as the ‘official state motorcycle’ would be state-sponsored terrorism. Harleys are neighbor-to-neighbor terrorism. Harleys sully the image of our state. Conducting ourselves according to Harley values will accelerate our nation’s decline.

    “We can’t let the Harley triumphalists hijack public sentiment by linking everything to Harley. Harleyism is the latest and greatest form of jingoism.

    “The Harley crowd tries to erect a facade of charity, altruism, philanthropy, and community spirit, but they are wolves in sheep’s clothing. Their “charity rides” are stunts. I saw a T-shirt promoting a charity ride for ‘abused children.’ Operating a loud Harley around children is child abuse!

    “Harley is more than just a motorcycle; it is a state of mind, an idea, an emotion, a mystique, a brand, a cult. Harleys make insecure people feel strong, invincible, and united in a mystical fellowship. Harley riders aspire to a brotherhood freed from social restraint.

    “Harleyism is being equated with nationalism, freedom, and liberty. America is not Harley. Wisconsin is not Harley. We are not Harley. Harley is not us.

    “America is debating whether it is acceptable to torture for confessions. America should also be debating whether it is acceptable to torture each other with Harley noise.

    “The Wisconsin tourism industry promotes the idea of ‘escaping to the peaceful north woods.’ How do we reconcile that image of our state with the reality of thunderous Harleys blasting through our streets, highways, and parks?

    “Every year, a swarm of bikers in black leather descend on Madison to lobby against legislation that would protect the public from their thunderous noise. Noise victims are not represented.

    “I appeal to our Wisconsin state legislators’ sense of decency, honor, and justice. I appeal to their concern for the long-term health and well-being of our citizens. Instead of honoring Harleys, our representatives should protect us from their awful noise.”

  6. Some of the basic characteristics of leadership are:

    Be honest
    Treat people fairly
    Walk the walk (i.e. lead by example)

    Something seems to be missing here, but execs have a way ot taking care of one another.

    And to top it off, Mr. Wandell and other high income earners got a state income tax cut in January at the expense of lower wage income earners. That should really help stimulate the economy.

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