York Town Square

Part of the USAToday Network

Hog label linked to Harley for 80-something years

Norman Goss, an employee at Harley-Davidson’s Springettsbury Township facility, sports two Harley tattoos: The company’s bar-and-shield logos appear on his back and on his right arm. ‘I don’t know of any other brand where people take the logo and tattoo it on their arm,’ Mel Campbell, York advertising exec, said in 2005. ‘That kind of loyalty . . . you don’t find that in any other product.’ See all Harley posts from the start at H-D archives.
Think Harley-Davidson, and you think Hog or Hawg.
Where did that connection come from?
It started in 1920 when a pig, the Harley racing team’s mascot, was carried on a victory lap after each race won by H-D’s team of cyclists.
Six decades later, the brand was reinforced when Harley inaugurated Harley Owners Group – Hog.
The owner’s group, the largest cycle club in the world, was started to put Harley in touch with users.
Honda tried it, but failed, in part, because its executives didn’t ride with users, Peter Reid wrote in “Well Made in America.”
Which brings us to former Harley CEOs Rich Teerlink’s account of the time he was leading a big ride and forgot to fill up the gas tank, common for novice riders… .

“Since Rich was a Harley-Davidson VIP, he and Ann (his wife) had been asked to lead the ride, so corporate credibility was clearly at stake,” Reid wrote. “They made it. Barely. Corporate stomachs, however, were reported to be in knots the size of baseballs.”
Other facts, figures and date of note in Harley’s storied past, taken from York Daily Record files:
• About 9,000 people work for Harley-Davidson worldwide.
• Harley-Davidson’s Springettsbury Township plant is its largest manufacturing facility, with about 3,200 employees.
• There are more than 970 independent Harley-Davidson dealers in Asia and the Pacific area, Canada, Europe, Latin America, South America and the United States.
• Harley-Davidson has seven facilities that perform manufacturing operations. They are in East Troy, Wis.; Menomonee Falls, Wis.; Tomahawk, Wis.; Wauwatosa, Wis.; Kansas City, Mo.; Manaus, Brazil; and Springettsbury Township.
Local unionized Harley workers also went on strike in 1969 and 1991.
Here’s a look at the company’s history. Events concerning labor tensions are in bold:
• 1901: William S. Harley, 21, drafts a blueprint drawing of an engine designed to fit into a bicycle.
• 1903: Harley and Arthur Davidson, 20, make available to the public the first Harley-Davidson motorcycle, built in Milwaukee. Walter Davidson, Arthur Davidson’s brother, joins the company.
• 1907: William A. Davidson, Arthur Davidson’s brother, joins the company.
• 1910: The bar-and-shield logo is used for the first time. It’s trademarked one year later.
• 1920: Harley-Davidson is the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world.
• 1937: William Davidson dies at the age of 67.
• 1942: Walter Davidson dies at the age of 66.
• 1943: William Harley dies at the age of 63.
• 1950: Arthur Davidson dies at the age of 69.
• 1965: Harley-Davidson goes public for the first time, and the founders officially relinquish control.
• 1969: Workers at the Springettsbury Township plant walk out for a couple months.
• 1971: Jeffrey L. Bleustein, who would become part owner of Harley-Davidson, is an engineer with AMF, which owned Harley-Davidson at the time.
• 1974: Workers at the Milwaukee plant walk out.
• 1981: Bleustein and a group of 12 other senior executives at Harley-Davidson buy the company from AMF.
• 1983: Harley Owners Group, known as HOG, starts. Membership grows from more than 90,000 to more than 500,000 by 2000.
• 1991: Ninety-one percent of the unionized workers at the Springettsbury Township plant vote to strike. The strike lasts two weeks. Major issues were overtime notification and hours.
• 1993: Bleustein becomes president and chief operating officer of Harley-Davidson.
• 1997: Bleustein becomes president and chief executive officer of Harley-Davidson; a year later, chairman is added to his title.
• 2003: The company expands its Springettsbury Township plant by 350,000 square feet, improving upon technology, work environment and efficiency.
• 2006: Harley opens its first Chinese dealership.
On August 16, President Bush visits the motorcycle maker’s Softail plant in Springettsbury Township. It is the third visit to Harley by an incumbent president in 20 years.
• 2007: Ninety-eight percent of 2,722 unionized workers at the Springettsbury Township plant vote to strike after rejecting the company’s proposed contract.