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Richard Teerlink

Retired Chairman & CEO, Harley-Davidson

Rich Teerlink is the retired Chairman of Harley-Davidson. During his eighteen years with Harley, he served as Chief Financial Officer, President, Chief Executive Officer, and Chairman of the Board.

Rich Teerlink was appointed to the Board of Directors in 1982 and was part of the leadership team that led the revitalization of this American icon. In 1986, he helped guide the company back to public ownership and subsequently led the successful cultural transformation effort. He is co-author, with Lee Ozley, of More Than A Motorcycle: The Leadership Journey of Harley-Davidson.

After graduation from Bradley University in 1960, Teerlink had the benefit of working at large and small, public and private companies at both the corporate and divisional levels in line and staff assignments. During that time he held key executive positions at Herman Miller, RTE Corporation, Union Special Corporation, and MGD Graphic Systems.

He serves on the Board of Directors of Johnson Controls Incorporated and Snap-On Incorporated. He is also an active board member and participant in many business and community organizations.

In 2002, Teerlink was inducted into both the National and Wisconsin Business Halls of Fame. In addition, he has been honored by many other organizations including the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Harvard Business School Alumni Club of Wisconsin, Association for Corporate Growth, and the Sales and Marketing Executives, International.

Topics:

No Silver Bullet: The Journey from Crisis to Success
When Richard Teerlink joined Harley-Davidson, the company had a poor reputation, falling market share, and faced significant losses. Teerlink and a small band of executives undertook an awe-inspiring corporate revolution within Harley that would ultimately create a world-class motorcycle company, inspire a nation of devoted fans, and solidify Harley’s lasting prominence in the motorcycle industry. But, make no mistake; the Harley ride was fraught with roadblocks. Teerlink’s unshakeable belief that people were the most important resource in any company would prove to be the guiding force.

Teerlink shares with audiences how any organization can adopt a scientific, yet practical, guide to developing real change throughout the enterprise and reinforce the notion that sustaining change requires the engagement of everyone.

The Role of The Leader
Richard Teerlink believes leaders have one major job, being responsible for a company's operating environment. Based on his own remarkable leadership journey, Teerlink details the leadership principles and practices he has applied to reverse the fortunes of the fabled Harley-Davidson brand and create a high-performance organization.

Executing The Strategy
The journey from strategy to reality can be a sobering one for many organizations. The best-laid plans many times fall short in the attempt to implement them. Teerlink isolates the reasons why and explains how the pitfalls can be avoided.

Reinventing The Enterprise
Who but Richard Teerlink could be a greater authority on this subject? Through his experience of pulling Harley-Davidson from business extinction to new business explosion Teerlink details the principles, innovations, and creative responses that were responsible for Harley-Davidson's miraculous turnaround. "Think about this in the company you're working for: am I doing something that will cause people to want to have our company logo on their heart and soul? When was the last time you felt that strongly about anything?

Partnering Relationships
In addition to product excellence, trust and sharing are at the core of business relationships. But, applying them in partnering relationships, combining resources for a common goal, can be difficult. By focusing on the management and benefits of partnering relationships, this speech offer practical perspectives on an often difficult but potentially powerful aspect of business.

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