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Harley to eliminate Buell line of motorcycles; Generac is Waukesha County Executive’s Business of the Year; Growth in China fuels profits for A.O. Smith

Harley to eliminate Buell line of motorcycles

Harley-Davidson Inc. has announced a "go-forward" business strategy, which includes discontinuation of production of its Buell line of motorcycles, resulting in 180 jobs being eliminated in East Troy.

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To view an emotional farewell video from founder Erik Buell, click here.

Milwaukee-based Harley said the decision will result in a reduction over time of about 80 hourly production positions and about 100 salaried positions at Buell. Employment will end for a majority of Buell employees on Dec. 18.

The Buell line of racing motorcycles provided a lower-cost entry point for a younger generation of motorcycle enthusiasts. Harley acquired complete control of the company from Erik Buell in 2003.

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Remaining inventories of Buell motorcycles, accessories and apparel, while they last, will continue to be sold through authorized dealerships. Warranty coverage will continue as normal for Buell motorcycles, and the company will provide replacement parts and service through dealerships.

Harley-Davidson expects to incur approximately $125 million in one-time costs related to the discontinuation of the Buell product line.

Harley also announced it will divest its MV Agusta unit as part of its corporate survival strategy. Harley will immediately begin efforts to sell MV Agusta unit business, which is based in Varese, Italy.

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"As our announcement regarding Buell and MV Agusta indicates, we are moving with the speed and decisiveness required to bring our business strategy to life," said Keith Wandell, chief executive officer of Harley. "The fact is we must focus both our effort and our investment on the Harley-Davidson brand, as we believe this provides an optimal path to sustained, meaningful, long-term growth. We are refocusing our business with the expectation that we can provide growth that is both profitable and sustainable over the long term. We believe we can create a bright long-term future for our stakeholders through a single-minded focus on the Harley-Davidson brand."

Generac is Waukesha County Executive’s Business of the Year

Generac Power Systems Inc., a manufacturer of standby and portable power generators, has been named the 2009 Waukesha County Business of the Year Executive Award Winner by Waukesha County.

An independent panel of judges, which included business executives, community leaders and past award winners selected Waukesha-based Generac for the award.

"We are extremely honored to receive this award," said Aaron Jagdfeld, chief executive officer of Generac. "What started with modest beginnings 50 years ago in a local Waukesha garage has grown to be one of the largest names in standby power generation as well as one of the largest employers in southeastern Wisconsin."

"We received many outstanding nominees for the County Executive Awards this year," said Waukesha County Executive Dan Vrakas. "The number of exceptional business, government and nonprofit agencies available to residents in Waukesha County make all of us very proud."

As a company that reinvents itself every three to five years with new technologies, products and manufacturing advancements, Generac is a true U.S. manufacturer – not just an assembler of products, which is a distinction among its competitors, Jagdfeld said.

Generac has 1,500 employees and continues to grow.

To view a short video about Generac’s role in the community, click here.

Growth in China fuels profits for A.O. Smith

A.O. Smith Corp. posted third-quarter net earnings of $34.6 million, or $1.14 per share, which was up from $20.4 million, or 61 cents per share, exceeding analyst expectations.

The Milwaukee-based manufacturer’s quarterly net sales dipped to $501.5 million from $602.7 million.

Included in the most recent quarter’s earnings was a $3 million non-taxable net gain associated with the sale of a motor manufacturing plant in Shenzhen, China, and a $1.5 million tax benefit resulting from the closure of the 2005 and 2006 federal income tax returns. Collectively, the adjustments added 15 cents per share to third quarter results.

Strong growth in China, aggressive cost reduction throughout the organization, and a temporary decline in raw material costs contributed to the improved earnings.

"Our expense reduction programs are having the desired impact on our financial performance," said Paul Jones, chairman and chief executive officer of A.O. Smith. "Our company has performed well despite tough economic conditions, and I am pleased to report we expect to generate between $190 and $200 million in operating cash flow this year compared to $107 million last year."

A.O. Smith recently announced it had signed an agreement to purchase a majority interest in the water treatment business of Tianlong Holding Co. Ltd. of Hong Kong. A newly formed company, A.O. Smith (Shanghai) Water Treatment Products Co. Ltd., will hold the assets of the business and supply reverse osmosis water filtration products to the China residential and commercial markets as well as export markets throughout the world. The two companies anticipate closing the transaction in the fourth quarter.


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