Grasping at Straws?

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The announcement of Buell’s shut-down by Harley-Davidson is still spreading ripples through the motorcycle world.  But, closer to Buell’s home, city and county officials are looking into trying to save the Buell manufacturing facility–and the local jobs it supported–in Walworth County.

If Erik Buell is interested and able to participate in a new venture, the Walworth County group will explore further steps, including trying to talk with Harley and seeking potential investors, Burkhardt said.

“We’ve had very preliminary contact from an investment group out of the Chicago area and also out of the Minneapolis area,” he said.

They only face two hurdles.  First, no one at the Walworth County Economic Development Alliance has spoken to Erik Buell, so they have no idea if he’s even interested or available in working out such a deal.  Second, harley-Davidson doesn’t seem interested in having these sorts of discussion at all.  They just want to kill Buell.

Bob Klein, Harley’s director of corporate communications, reiterated that Harley is “discontinuing the Buell product line rather than selling the business because of how deeply integrated Buell is into our business systems and distribution network.”

That sounds…plausible.  But I don’t think it’s the whole truth. Indeed, it’s not even the same story that HD was spinning a few days ago.  Then, the decision to close Buell down was based on the very positive tax implications a shut-down would have, vice trying to sell the division.

And, while I certainly don’t want to assign impure motives to anyone at HD, there is a flavor of schadenfreude about the way the MoCo is handling this.  Maybe it’s my imagination, but I can’t escape the sense that there’s some secret glee in Milwaukee over getting rid of Buell.

But, whether its the tax code, or sheer viciousness, the Walworth County effort doesn’t look like one that’s destined for success at the moment.

If. Erik Buell is interested and able to participate in a new venture, the Walworth County group will explore further steps, including trying to talk with Harley and seeking potential investors, Burkhardt said.

“We’ve had very preliminary contact from an investment group out of the Chicago area and also out of the Minneapolis area,” he said.

Author: Dale Franks

Dale Franks is the former host of The Business Day, ”a daily, four-hour business and financial news program on KMNY Radio in Los Angeles. From 2002-2004, he was a contributor on military and international affairs for TechCentralStation.com. Currently, he a publisher and editor of the monthly political journal The New Libertarian, as well as an editor of the popular web log, Q and O. Dale served as a military police officer in the United States Air Force from 1984 to 1993, in variety of assignments both in the United States and Europe, where he also was assigned to the staff of the Headquarters of Allied Forces Central Europe. In addition to broadcasting, writing, and speaking on various topics, Dale has also been a long-time technical training instructor on a variety of computer software and technology subjects. Dale has also long been involved with information technology as an accomplished web designer, programmer, and technologist, serving as the corporate knowledge specialist for Microsoft Outlook at SAIC, the nation's largest employee-owned corporation. Additionally, he is the author of a number of software user guides used for classroom training by one of Southern California’'s premier computer training and consulting firms. His book, SLACKERNOMICS: Basic Economics for People Who Find Economics Boring, is available from Barnes & Noble.

2 thoughts on “Grasping at Straws?”

  1. Dale,

    You reported a bit over a month ago that exec’s within H-D would be pushing “to have the company divest itself of Buell Motorcycles, and that a decision to sell or shut down Buell may come in the near future” and it looks like they’ve been successful. But why does H-D seem so intent on eliminating Buell, rather than sell it off in some form?

    g

    1. As near as I can tell, HD figures they’ll de better taking a massive write-off on taxes in 2009 by just killing it.  Cold-blooded, but there it is.

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