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Motorcycle scene changing

May 5, 2004
Filed under Features

IronHorse brings in new top executive
American IronHorse, the Fort Worth, Texas, bike maker that has been one of the industry’s success stories, has brought in a new president and CEO from outside the industry as the company tries to bump up its production level.
John Boudreau has been named president and CEO, replacing co-founder and CEO Bill Rucker, who left the company in May, following disagreements with the board of directors and a group of investors.
The company eventually bought out Rucker’s share of the company for an undisclosed amount to be paid over several years.
At the same time, co-founder and lead designer Tim Edmondson, who had been president, relinquished that title.
Following Rucker’s departure, the company was led by co-CEO’s Donald Wilson and James Collet; the two have stepped down with the arrival of Boudreau.
Boudreau, who was not available to be interviewed for this story, joined the company early last month. He brings more than 40 years of senior management and consulting experience with mid-size and large manufacturing companies. His background includes a “multitude of ownership and executive positions” for several domestic and international conglomerates, the company said. Boudreau holds degrees in biochemistry and metallurgy and has done advance work in accounting and finance. He’ll be responsible for day-to-day operations of the company.
Chief Operating Officer Bob Kay continues in that position and reports to Boudreau. Meanwhile, last month, Robert Schleizer was named vice president of administration. He has 20 years of financial and management experience.
In addition to Rucker’s departure, the company laid off 37 employees late last summer and cut several executives last month. There are about 300 employees today.
During a recent interview with Powersports Business, Bob Kay said demand keeps growing for AIH products, especially its Texas Chopper, and the company expects to add a second chopper, possibly by next March.
“Demand seems to keep growing,” said Kay, adding that the company’s production is sold out through the end of January.
Kay said the company is facing a big challenge. “We’re at that critical point where many of our (competitors) couldn’t get to the next level. There’s big demand, but you have to look at how you’re doing business, you have to focus on quality and focus on the back end of the business and on dealer support and on response to questions.
“That’s what I’m all about these days, making sure the customers enjoy the American IronHorse company as much as they enjoy the motorcycles.”
Kay said Rucker and Boudreau have two different skill sets. One has manufacturing and finance skills, and the other, entrepreneurial spirit. “An entrepreneur is someone who is willing to take risks and who is focused on a start-
up and on topline (sales) growth,” said Kay. “It’s pretty common to change as a company grows.”
Rucker, who reportedly is working on another motorcycle startup, was not available to comment for this report.
Kay said IronHorse expects to build 3,500 units next year, up from an estimated 2,700 units this year, and 1,800 last year. Revenues are expected to be about $65 million this year and $85 million to $90 million next year.
“Cash flow with a young, fast-growing company is always a challenge,” Kay said.
Kay said IronHorse has moved to formalize its customer service department, adding parts and accessories people, as well as warranty managers to help with claims and technicians to help answer customer and dealer questions.
“You can’t kid yourself about what you are doing,” says Kay. “You have to set goals, monitor against them and make decisions to reality. You can have passion, but you have to have common sense, too.”

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