Harley Thinks About Leaving Pennsylvania

•Thursday,May 14, 2009 • 2 Comments

Harley-Davidson May Move Pennsylvania Production Plant.
The AP (5/14, Strumpf) reports, “Harley-Davidson Inc. is considering closing its main motorcycle assembly facility in Pennsylvania and moving production elsewhere as it aims to lower costs and cope with a sales downturn, a company spokesman said Wednesday.” Spokesman Bob Klein said the Milwaukee-based company is “working with its union, the Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, as it conducts a review on the facility. He declined to say what other locations might be under consideration for a move.” Pennsylvania Sens. Arlen Specter and Bob Casey “sent a letter on Tuesday to Harley Chief Executive Keith Wandell, saying the facility is important to the local economy and calling on the company to protect the factory’s jobs.” Last month, Harley “reported a 37-percent decline in its profit for the first three months of the year. … The company has also seen a wave of turnover among its top leadership in recent months.”

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North Myrtle Beach sees bikers roll in for rally

•Tuesday,May 12, 2009 • Leave a Comment

From myrtlebeachonline.com:

Businesses say new rules still hit hard

jfrost@thesunnews.com kfuller@thesunnews.com

Sunny weather and a feeling of easy riding lured bikers to parts of North Myrtle Beach on Sunday afternoon, the third day of the Harley-Davidson Cruisin’ the Coast spring rally.

Many of the rules enforced in Myrtle Beach and Horry County did not apply in North Myrtle Beach, which attracted riders to cruise and shop there.

Horry County has imposed a seven-day limit on vendor permits this year, but vendors at Barefoot Landing, which is inside North Myrtle Beach, got their permits from that city, which allowed vending the same as last year.

Business at Barefoot Landing is lagging this year, said Sonny Morabito, an employee of Xtreme Customs & Cycles. The crowd that usually appears on the first weekend was smaller this year.

“I would say our business is at least half off,” he said. “We’ll be back next year. I ain’t going to let it stop us.”

A subdued crowd of riders paused at The Dog House North on U.S. 17 Bypass. The bar is outside Myrtle Beach city limits but is subject to new rules passed by Horry County.

The bar was not allowed to have a band or people standing by the road to draw attention to the business, said manager David Ankin.

“Business is 50 percent down,” Ankin said. “The county is just as bad as the city. I’ve been here 10 years. We’ve bent over backwards to do what we can do. They don’t care about the businesses in this town.”

Customers also noticed the different atmosphere at the bar this year.

“I’m surprised that there is still support for bike week,” added James Farmer, a customer at The Dog House North. “This is a hot spot, but they don’t have a band. This is dead compared to last year.”

Some businesses reported a brisk trade in the sale of T-shirts and biker paraphernalia, despite the new laws this year.

“I don’t know how it is in Myrtle Beach, but as far as this end, there are quite a few bikers out there riding,” said Linda Lewis, an employee of Bargain Beachwear in North Myrtle Beach.

Numerous riders congregated at H.B. Spokes, a popular location on S.C. 9 in Longs.

A local band, Long Shot, provided the entertainment, while bikers chatted and sipped cold beer throughout the afternoon.

Riders shared information on how to ride without going into Myrtle Beach, and where to buy T-shirts to protest the new regulations, including the city’s helmet ordinance.

The change in the issuance of vendor permits has hurt the bar’s business this year, said H.B. Spokes employee Jeff Herring.

Vendors who usually set up in the H.B. Spokes parking lot were not allowed to set up shop until midnight Sunday.

“It hurts business,” Herring said. “The vendors keep a crowd longer.”

North Myrtle Beach officials said the city has been conducting business as usual during the first of two May motorcycle rallies.

“The bikers are just like any other tourists,” said Mayor Marilyn Hatley. “We’re expecting people to come and abide by the laws and enjoy themselves.”

The Harley-Davidson Cruisin’ the Coast rally kicked off Friday and lasts until Saturday, and the Atlantic Beach Bikefest runs over Memorial Day weekend.

“We haven’t changed,” Hatley said. “We’re going to respect the bikers, and we expect the bikers to respect us and treat our community just like they would treat their own.”

The city’s chamber of commerce sent out a message to its visitors’ database of about 90,000 people, saying all visitors would continue to be welcomed in North Myrtle Beach as long as they obey the city’s rules and laws, said Marc Jordan, president and CEO of the North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce. The message was in response to early debates generated by new ordinances in Myrtle Beach and Horry County, and several calls the North Myrtle Beach chamber received from long-time May visitors, Jordan said.

“We have also partnered with our city’s public safety department and the property management officials to assure that property rules are prominently displayed in rooms and on site at all properties, and everyone understands the procedures that our public safety officials will follow in the event of any complaints,” Jordan said. “We are hopeful for a good May and the beginning of a successful season.”

By Sunday, there appeared to be an increase in North Myrtle Beach’s traffic compared with the same time in previous years, said William Bailey, the city’s public safety director.

“There’s more traffic and participants, especially in the Windy Hill area,” Bailey said. “We’re anticipating by Wednesday that all public safety employees will be working a shift that accommodates the heaviest times of the rally.”

Public safety officials also worked out a traffic pattern with the Harley-Davidson shop on U.S. 17 in North Myrtle Beach to make it easier for travelers to get in and out of the store and to make it safer for them to cross the highway.

The direct entrance to the store on U.S.17 has been blocked off, and motorcyclists and drivers are directed to use a traffic light to enter the store, Bailey said.

“We’re trying to keep motorcyclists heading north from crossing the southbound traffic on U.S. 17 [to get to the store],” Bailey said.

Hot Bike/Baggers Publisher Bankrupt

•Tuesday,April 28, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Media giant and publisher of Hot Bike and Hot Bike Baggers magazines, Source Interlink Companies, Inc. has filed chapter 11 bankruptcy.  Source Interlink Media LLC publishes more than 75 magazines including Motor Trend, Surfer, Lowrider, Dirt Rider, Street Chopper, Motorcyclist, and Motorcycle Cruiser, and manages about 90 websites.

In a statement to advertisers the company said:

Bonita Springs, FL., April 28, 2009 – Source Interlink Companies, Inc. (Nasdaq:SORC), one of the largest publishers of magazines and online content for enthusiast audiences and a leading distributor of DVD’s, CD’s, magazines, video games and books today announced it has reached a restructured agreement with its lenders to eliminate approximately $1 billion dollars of existing debt and privatize the company.

Under the agreement, the company’s lenders will cancel nearly $1 billion of the company’s existing debt and provide approximately $100 million in additional liquidity.  Source Interlink, in agreement with its lenders, will pay all of its vendors in full and on time if they agree to maintain current credit and payment terms.  To facilitate the restructuring, the Company filed a lender-approved pre-packaged Plan of Reorganization under Chapter 11 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. The Company anticipates it will emerge within 35 days.

Source Interlink says that it will continue business as usual, but obviously there are some changes that have to be made.  As for right now the restructuring plan call for all of the company’s common stock to be cancelled. Company stock closed the day at $0.10, a 38% drop, and has been on a steady decline since last July when it was trading at about $2.50.

Source Interlink is based in Bonita Springs, FL and employs about 4,400 people.

Billy Lane Trial Back On?

•Tuesday,April 14, 2009 • 2 Comments

Well knock me over with a feather!  The delays continue as to the fate of “celebrity” bike builder Billy Lane and his DUI/Manslaughter case that is quickly approaching the three year mark with no meaningful action.  This morning in a Florida courtroom Lane’s attorney said they have reached an impasse on reaching a plea deal.  In a statement to Florida Today, attorney Greg Eisenmenger said, “I’m cautiously optimistic we’ll be able to work through this impasse. This has been a marathon not a sprint.  I think Bill(y) is just pleased that we’re spending the time to get it right.” (… and pay my fees for three years!)

Wow!  I bet that guy works a comedy club on the weekends, because he is telling a bunch of jokes.

The only glimmer of hope in this whole process is Judge Robert Burger who seems to be a less willing to play the games than the previous judge who was removed from the bench in last Fall’s elections.  He set a trial date of June 15 with a pretrial hearing on June 9 when there will be another chance to reach a plea deal.

More Delays for Lane

•Wednesday,April 8, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Today the judge granted yet another delay in the fate of Billy Lane.  Lawyers will give a progress report to judge Robert Burger next Tuesday April 14 as to whether or not the two sides can agree on an actual plea agreement.  Last January defense attorney Greg Eisenmenger and prosecutors  both said that an agreement was near and that there was no need to set a trial date.  This week Eisenmenger is saying that they can’t agree on the wording of the deal and that there are “mitigating factors” that should give Lane modified sentencing guidelines.

Police said Lane’s blood  alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit when he crossed a double yellow line and crashed his Dodge pickup truck head-on into Gerald Morelock’s motorcycle on Sept. 4, 2006.  Morelock was killed.

Isn’t that what a trial is for?  A jury of your peers deciding the weight of mitigating factors?

I am sorry folks, but this legal proceeding is a complete joke.  Everyone involved should be embarrassed by their complete lack of urgency or justice.  I don’t know Lane  but he has to be the world’s largest pussy for letting all this happen around him.  Celebrity bike builder my ass.  More like celebrity woo-se who has dodged justice for the last two and three quarter years.  I am embarrassed that this clown has ever turned a wrench on a motorcycle!

Billy Lane Plea Bargain in Doubt

•Tuesday,April 7, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Billy Lane was set to enter a plea in a Florida court today from DUI Manslaughter charges filed more than two and a half years ago, but the agreement is now in doubt as attorneys argue about wording.  According to defense lawyer Greg Eisenmenger, “The State and I both walked in with written versions of the plea and there was a different interpretation of the wording of the plea and both of us are kind of hung up on that right now.”  He said he hopes to have the issue resolved later today.

Originally charged with DUI Manslaughter in connection with a Labor Day crash that left one man dead in 2006, last December prosecutors added another/alternative charge of vehicular homicide.  That does not include the drug or alcohol element.  Either charge can carry a penalty of up to 15 years in prison.

A new hearing is scheduled for tomorrow when a plea may be entered.

Harley CEO to Vacate May 1

•Tuesday,April 7, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Harley-Davidson CEO To Step Down, Johnson Controls Executive Will Take Over.
The AP (4/7) reports, “Motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson Inc. said Monday its chief executive will step down May 1 and will be replaced by an executive from car battery and interiors maker Johnson Controls Inc.” Keith E. Wandell “replaces James L. Ziemer, who is retiring after 40 years at Harley and four years as its CEO.” Wandell will “take over Harley during a challenging time for the motorcycle maker,” as sales “have been in a slump.” At the same time, the company’s “financing arm, Harley-Davidson Financial Services, has been struggling due to the lockup in the credit markets.”