The summer of 2019 was a busy time at Harley-Davidson Canada. In addition to holding demo ride events at dealerships across the country and preparing for the launch of their 2020 lineup, which includes the all-new electric-powered LiveWire, the team at Harley-Davidson Canada received a Managing Director. The individual now charged with overseeing the Canadian operations of Harley-Davidson is Scott Winhold, a veteran of the automotive sector including positions with Kia, BMW, General Motors and most recently Porsche.
Here at Inside Motorcycles, we were anxious to hear more about Winhold’s vision for Harley-Davidson Canada, so we arranged for Scott to answer a few questions.
Inside Motorcycles: Your background is in the automotive sector, highlighted by tenures at premium brands including BMW and most recently Porsche. How do you see this experience translating into the two-wheeled world of Harley-Davidson and in which areas will it allow you to be most effective?
Scott Winhold: Having worked for two reputable German OEMs I’ve learned to be a strategic thinker, to take a structured approach to managing the business and to plan long term. At the same time, these brands are very focused on the customer and ensuring a class-leading customer experience just as Harley-Davidson does. I know that we are selling far more than two wheels, we are delivering on our purpose of ‘fulfilling dreams of personal freedom’ and that’s not something you can do with structure alone, it’s far more emotional. That’s why it is so important to me to continue building upon the passion for Harley-Davidson, which already exists so deeply in our employees and dealers.
IM: ‘More Roads to Harley-Davidson’ is the most ambitious undertaking in the company’s history. How did this impact your decision to join Harley-Davidson Canada? Was it a positive or negative influence, and why?
SW: Learning about, and believing in the More Roads plan was critical in making my decision to join H-D. Of course I knew what an iconic brand Harley-Davidson is and that was appealing, but I also knew the challenges facing our brand and our industry and may not have joined if I didn’t fully buy into the direction the company is going. I’m extremely excited about our strategy to grow new ridership, to launch new products in segments we’ve not competed in the past and to help strengthen our dealer network so we can collectively deliver the best customer experience possible. But most importantly I can’t wait to introduce a broader range of products to our dealers and customers that appeal to toddlers, to teenagers, to young urbanites as well as to our current loyal customers. I absolutely believe in our vision that H-D products could find themselves in any garage or driveway across Canada and that’s our mission going forward.
IM: With the recent introduction of the electric-powered LiveWire and planned adventure and sport fighter models, as well as further EV products, how do you see the Harley-Davidson consumer base evolving, and what efforts are being directed to reaching these potential new customers? At the same time what efforts are being targeted at maintaining the traditional Harley-Davidson customer base?
SW: This past month I spent Friday the 13th in Port Dover, Ontario hanging out with thousands of our loyal customers and other motorcycle enthusiasts. For much of the day I was introducing them to LiveWire and I was very pleased with the overwhelmingly positive response everyone had to this new motorcycle. Having ridden it myself multiple times I could explain to them the pure joy you get from riding this new technology and I truly believe they were buying in. Of course the LiveWire is not for everyone, but I have no doubt that once you experience the thrill of riding it and the ease of operation we’ll have a big success on our hands. The other takeaway from my discussions with customers is that most understand that Harley-Davidson needs to evolve to be successful in the future. Their feedback to me was that as long as we stay committed to building the outstanding Touring, Cruiser and Custom bikes they love, (which we will), then they are quite supportive of the expansion of our portfolio into new products and segments. Our balance will be to maintain our very strong brand identity and relationships with current customers, while opening our doors and our minds to a whole new generation of riders who may not currently see Harley as a brand for them.
IM: Looking forward, how do you envision the Canadian dealership experience evolving in the coming years and what steps will you be taking to enhance it?
SW: First and foremost, our dealer network is one of our most valuable strengths at Harley-Davidson and I intend to build upon that. In my short time here, I’ve met a number of professional dealers and staff who are committed to the brand, passionate about the product and dedicated to their customers. They don’t see themselves as selling a product, but instead supporting a ‘way of life’. What I expect to contribute with the assistance of my team is the introduction of best practices from the auto industry and other retail industries around systems, processes and structure that can further support our growth. I also hope to see new and unique retail formats that can ‘pop-up’ where potential customers are, especially in the urban city centres and introduce them to new products from Harley-Davidson that will positively surprise them. This is the combination of improving the traditional dealer format while introducing new retail formats that will support the customer experience.
IM: Lastly, which of the current Harley-Davidson models is most likely to find a home in your garage and why?
SW: I’ve been having a tough time deciding of late. I’ve now had an opportunity to ride almost our entire model lineup and I’ve narrowed it down to a choice between the new LiveWire and the 2020 Low Rider S. Both are very different from each other but they both deliver an incredible brand and riding experience that appeals to me. I’ll follow-up with you on my decision in the near future.
Harley-Davidson Canada Managing Director Scott Winhold. Photo courtesy of Harley-Davidson Canada.