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A change at the top for AIH – September 4, 2006

September 4, 2006
Filed under Features

Wil Garland’s two-year reign as American IronHorse (AIH) CEO ended with an offer that was “too good to turn down,” the AIH executive said in an interview with Powersports Business.
Garland was slated to leave the Texas-based custom bike builder on Aug. 31 to become president of Cannon Solutions, a $3.2 billion subsidiary of IMI plc. The new job not only moves Garland to a bigger company, but also closer to his children in Tennessee.
Founding AIH board member and Chairman Dwayne Moyers will take over CEO duties until Garland’s successor is found. That search is likely to be a lengthy one, similar to what occurred before Garland was hired in July 2004.
Garland said AIH looked at 500 resumes and interviewed 20 people before hiring him in 2004 — a process that took nine months.
Garland expects his successor to continue IronHorse’s dealer buildup in the United States and beyond. AIH recently began selling its V-twin motorcycles in Canada and Garland expects the company to look next toward Europe.
“The company will continue to be aggressive in that regard and I will continue to help them even though I’m on the sidelines on another job,” Garland said. “I will continue to be a big proponent of IronHorse in their future.”
Garland also expects the new CEO to play a role in growing AIH’s reach.
“When I got to IronHorse, they didn’t even know how many dealers they had in the top 100 markets” in the United States, Garland said. “Of course, that was one of the first measurables I worked on. We were in 31 and today we’re in 69 in the top 100 U.S. markets.”
During that two-year time, Garland said AIH converted its dealer network from “very average, at best” to a “very strong” group. Garland also said AIH has just recently expanded its market vision, to where the company is now looking at reaching the top 200 U.S. markets.
Besides building the dealer network, Garland cites distribution and manufacturing improvements during his two-year reign.
“When I got to IronHorse, they were severely supply constrained,” he said. “They couldn’t supply their dealers because they couldn’t get enough frames and other items for various reasons, mostly because they didn’t have good communication and good partnerships with their suppliers.”
Garland changed that as well as expectations for the company’s manufacturing line for its Fort Worth, Texas facility. When Garland started, he initiated a test that measured what percent of motorcycles made it through the final quality inspection without any defects. When AIH started this test, the measurement was in the 30 percent range. Today, Garland said, it’s consistently in the mid-90s.
“I’m obviously very proud of that,” he said.
Garland also said he’s proud of the finance options that AIH dealers now have through Textron and HSBC and, of course, that the 10-year-old company became profitable for the first time in 2005. He expects another profitable year in 2006.
Garland was scheduled to leave the company before that became reality because of the offer he received from an executive that he worked with in his previous job at Procter & Gamble. Garland first talked to IMI in February and agreed to take the position in July. “They came to me, I didn’t come to them,” Garland said, noting he’s leaving on good terms with AIH’s board. psb

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