December 10th 2004. Harley-Davidson has announced that Jeffrey Bleustein, 65, will retire as Chief Executive Officer of the company on April 30th 2005. His successor has been revealed as James Ziemer, 54, who is currently Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Harley-Davidson. Bleustein will continue as Chairman of the Board of Directors.

During Bleustein's three decades at the company, Harley-Davidson has achieved several notable successes. By 1987, Harley-Davidson recaptured its position as the leading heavyweight motorcycle manufacturer in the US. Bleustein became Senior Vice President in 1988 and was promoted to Executive Vice President in 1990 and to President and Chief Operating Officer in 1993. He assumed his current position as Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer in 1998.

Under Bleustein's leadership, Harley-Davidson's annual revenue grew from $1.5 billion in 1996 to $4.6 billion in 2003; net income grew from $143 million to $761 million over the same period. This, the company claims, has been accomplished through aggressive new-product development, upgraded manufacturing technology, capacity and processes, a modernised and strengthened dealer network, and 'close to the customer' marketing.

"I've been fortunate to work with a great team over the years," said Bleustein, "I'm confident that Jim Ziemer will continue to take the company forward."


Pictured: Jeff Bleustein