"It's the magic of the company."
– Rich Kolbe, MIS

Manufacturer Large shop


Harley-Davidson is famous worldwide for the heavy-duty motorcycles it manufactures. Considered the Cadillac of motorcycles, the bikes are now so popular that a new bike may be back-ordered for six to eight months.

Founded in 1903 and headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Harley-Davidson has 5,200 employees. The company is publicly-held and earns revenues of $1.1 billion. The company has won a number of awards and is actively involved in the community, contributing to the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the New West Side redevelopment group, and the United Way.



Harley-Davidson is moving off its mainframes to a cluster of six IBM AS/400s. Several Local Area Networks connect approximately 400 IBM PS/2 workstations. Development is in COBOL and RPG. Additional software used includes Software 2000's human resources and financial packages and American Software's manufacturing and distribution packages.

Harley-Davidson employs 100 computer professionals. Job titles include Programmer Trainee, Programmer, Programmer Analyst, Senior Programmer, Systems Analyst, Project Leader, and Application Development Manager. Seventy percent of the work is new development.

Recently, computer professionals developed a COBOL system on an AS/400 for tracking information about the Harley Owner's Group. New owners are automatically enrolled in this group for one year when they buy a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. The new system processes membership renewals, advance registration for motorcycle rallies, and shirt sizes for the complimentary t-shirts given at rallies. Other systems keep track of the nearest Harley dealership, status of each dealer's mileage program, and history of trouble reports on individual bikes.


Computer professionals work in low-walled cubicles in a nonsmoking environment. Less than 10 percent travel is needed. Overtime averages two to three hours a week, depending on the stage of a project. Computer professionals are encouraged to interact with end users. Information Systems has a high profile within the company.

Harley-Davidson observes the standard federal holidays. The company offers 12 days of vacation to start and three weeks after six years. The company also offers medical, disability, dental, and life insurance; tuition reimbursement; and a retirement plan. A profit-sharing program is based on meeting financial and qualitative company goals. The company has not had a layoff in at least ten years.


Harley-Davidson looks for candidates with technical qualifications, good communication skills, and knowledge of business. A Bachelor's degree is preferred. The company seldom hires entry-level computer professionals. The average computer professional at Harley-Davidson has 12 years of experience and at least an Associate's degree.

Harley-Davidson hires up to three computer professionals a year. Candidates are found through advertisements, internal job postings, word-of-mouth, and employment agencies.


A letter with a resume is preferred.

Mr. Rich Kolbe, Director, MIS

(414) 935-4955

Harley-Davidson, Inc.

3700 W. Juneau Avenue

Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53208

Copyright 1995 Carol L. Covin. Covin’s Midwest Computer Job Guide