Items that caught my attention this week:
1 – File this under “what took so long”?: Harley-Davidson has finally decided to add “smaller, more versatile” motorcycles to its line-up in an attempt to attract younger customers to boost its sales. People I know who ride Harleys describe them as truly “hogs” on the road – lumbering down the road with little agility and not much speed – exactly the opposite of what one would imagine a Harley motorcycle to be like – they look good, but they don’t move as good as they look. So maybe the company is, at long last, going to build a motorcycle that actually does move! A little too little too late, perhaps, but, heh, some folks aren’t quick on the pick-up. That fault has long been the major reason that companies have failed – think Kodak, Circuit City, Blockbuster, Borders Books, Yahoo, and many others of recent years. When a company’s leaders fail to see the handwriting on the wall in time to take evasive action, there’s usually a wrack-up in the offing.
2 – And, speaking of a wrack-up – for those of you who have been following the Necco Wafers machinations, it looks like the company, recently sold to a buyer who balked at the last minute, is being sold again – and no one at this time seems to know if the candy maker will be continuing – employees of the company have been told that the New England Confectionary Company is closing and that there is a new owner. The saga continues . . .
3 – Walmart is exploring the offering of a subscription video streaming business to challenge Netflix and Amazon. If this offering is undertaken, it will likely do little damage to Amazon’s streaming business, but Walmart is likely to pick up a whole host of customers from Netflix – that is, those customers who are particularly disenchanted with the recent “special programming” being offered the Obamas, Farrakan and others.
4 – There’s a current labor shortage of home construction workers in the industry and that is expected to push up new home prices in the years to come. Part of the difficulty is that the industry has yet to figure out how to attract young men and women into the business, particularly in summer when that should be an easy proposition. Young construction workers (24 and younger) declined 30 percent in the years between 2005 and 2016. This has to be a problem with accurately pitching jobs to this age group – particularly since this is the age group that can be seen flocking to help groups like Habitat for Humanity build homes. Thus, it’s not that the age group is unwilling to do construction work; it’s that they haven’t been approached in ways that makes the industry attractive to them. Try offering them a gym membership with their employment – a place where they can go to buff up muscles not touched in their work, and to shower and change before going out in the evenings.
5 – Boeing has raised their revenue expectations for the year, saying that global demand for their passenger and cargo planes is soaring despite any trade differences between countries. Good news for Boeing’s investors.
6 – And, file this under “I told you so”: Papa John’s founder, John Schnatter is seeking the records of the board’s actions preceding his resignation as chairman. Schnatter believes that the board members were planning to terminate his chairmanship and his lease agreement to work for corporate headquarters before they ever formed a special committee to address allegations against him. Readers of these posts will recall that I earlier predicted that John Schnatter wasn’t a quitter and that he would likely fight actions taken against him. Thus, this saga, also continues. . .