It’s more than a year away, but you can bet Labor Day weekend in 2018 will be a loud one in the city of Milwaukee as Harley-Davidson plans its 115th anniversary celebration.
The company has generally held its anniversary celebration around the same time every five years but had not specifically said when the 115th would be until Matt Levatich, Harley-Davidson chief executive officer, was asked about it during the company’s annual meeting this weekend.
“Mark your calendars for Labor Day weekend in Milwaukee,” Levatich said. “We’ll have a big celebration.”
Additional details will likely be announced in August, he said.
Previous Harley-Davidson anniversary celebrations in Milwaukee have been huge, multi-day events attracting thousands of Harley riders from all over the world for numerous activities around town. The event provides a significant boost in business for area hotels, bars, restaurants and attractions.
Harley typically books big-name performers for the celebration at Maier Festival Park. In 2013 for the 110th anniversary, the headliners included Aerosmith, ZZ Top and Kid Rock.
Meanwhile, much of the company’s annual meeting focused on the company’s 10-year strategy announced earlier this year. The plan includes attracting 2 million new riders in the United States, launching 100 new “high-impact” motorcycles, growing the international business to 50 percent of the company, providing return on invested capital in the top quartile of the S&P 500 and not growing the company’s environmental impact.
“As a clear market leader, we have both the obligation and the opportunity to invest to secure the long-term vitality of motorcycling,” Levatich said.
He also discussed the company’s meeting with President Donald Trump earlier this year, saying it was great the administration was willing to listen to Harley’s concerns as a U.S. manufacturer.
“We run our business the way we run our business because it matters to our customers,” Levatich said. “We’ve done it this way very deliberately for very specific reasons, because our customers around the world value the American quality of Harley-Davidson.”
“We’re going to continue to engage with the administration about things that help our company be a stronger company, whether its taxes or tariffs or what have you,” Levatich added.
He was pressed by David Almasi, a vice president at the National Center for Public Policy Research, on how far the company would be willing to go, particularly if there were some sort of organized campaign against the company for engaging with the Trump administration.
“I think what we we’re willing to do is say what I just said. We are who we are; we do what we do for very specific reasons, because our customers value it. To me that is a very pure, high principled pursuit that we have no problem standing by. It’s not some change in who we are, what we’ve done, we’ve always been that way,” Levatich said