Harley-Davidson announced it is suspending most of its U.S. production through March 29 after one of its employees tested positive for the coronavirus. The temporary suspension in production affects the company’s York Vehicle Operations in Pennsylvania, and the Tomahawk Operations and Pilgrim Road Powertrain Operations facilities in Wisconsin.

According to Harley-Davidson, an employee at the Pilgrim Road facility had tested positive for COVID-19. After being notified of the positive test result, Harley-Davidson shut down the facility Thursday and began cleaning and disinfecting the building.

Harley-Davidson is just the latest motorcycle manufacturer to close at least some production facilities. Ducati and KTM, for example, have closed things down temporarily, while some manufacturers such as MV Agusta announced they would continue production.

Non-critical employees at Harley-Davidson’s headquarters and Production Development Center in Milwaukee have also been asked to work remotely through the end of March. Harley-Davidson says it is working with dealers through this crisis.

For Harley-Davidson, the decision comes at an already difficult time. Sales are down, and in late February, Harley-Davidson announced the departure of its Chief Executive Officer, Matthew Levatich. There is also some conflict in the boardroom, as a significant shareholder, Impala Asset Management, has publicly raised concerns about the company’s direction and nominated two people to Harley-Davidson’s board: Leo Hindery, a former president and CEO of Tele-Communications, Inc., and AT&T Boradband, and Brent Dewar, a former executive with General Motors and former president of NASCAR. Impala Asset Management claims it was responsible for convincing the board to terminate Levatich.

Begin Press Release:

Harley-Davidson Temporarily Suspending U.S. Production

Since late January, Harley-Davidson, Inc. (“Harley-Davidson”) (NYSE:HOG) has been assessing the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation and taking proactive measures in the interest of health and safety of its employees, dealers and consumers. Its most recent measures include temporarily suspending the majority of production at its U.S. manufacturing facilities beginning this evening, March 18, through March 29 to help support employee health and further bolster coronavirus containment efforts. Facilities temporarily suspending production are York Vehicle Operations in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin facilities Tomahawk Operations and Pilgrim Road Powertrain Operations.

“We recognize the unprecedented nature of this global crisis. In order to best support our employees and following the social distancing guidance issued by public health authorities, we are temporarily suspending the majority of production at our U.S. manufacturing facilities,” said Jochen Zeitz, acting CEO and president, Harley-Davidson. “We will continue to monitor the situation and take necessary steps to prioritize employee health and safety.”

Harley-Davidson will continue monitoring the situation closely and make additional adjustments as necessary in accordance with World Health Organization (WHO) and Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. The majority of its U.S. production employees will be on temporary layoff with medical benefits. The company will use this time to continue deep cleaning and disinfecting its production areas and common areas to further protect workers upon their return.

Harley-Davidson closed its Pilgrim Road Powertrain Operations facility this afternoon after an employee tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus and is thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting the building, per the company’s coronavirus response protocol.

On Monday, Harley-Davidson asked employees at its Milwaukee-area headquarters and Product Development Center, except those business-critical roles that must be done onsite, to work remotely through at least the end of March. Additionally, the company is proactively working with its dealers to assess individual impacts and its encouraging dealers to follow the public health guidelines in their communities for the safety of its consumers. In accordance with social distance guidelines, all Harley-Davidson sponsored events have been cancelled until mid-April.

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