Harley and 20-year old Arthur Davidson made available to the public the first production of the Harley-Davidson motorcycle. The company started in a 10x15 foot shed in the Davidson family's backyard in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The same year the first three Harley-Davidson motorcycles were built and sold. .
In 1906 Harley-Davidson Motor Company was incorporated and the stock split four ways between the four founders and the staff size increased to fifteen. The target market was the New England region and dealerships were established. .
AMF, Inc. acquired Harley-Davidson in 1969 and production was expanded from 15,000 in 1969 to 40,000 in 1974. AMF liked the idea of short-term profits instead of investing in research and development and retooling. During this time the Japanese competitors were improving the quality of their motorcycles. Harley was not doing the improvement to its own bikes and began to turn out inferior equipment. AMF chose to ignore the competition and when in 1975 Honda introduced its Gold Wing they became the leader of the touring bike industry, something that Harley controlled for years. .
Sales continued to be high during the ownership of AMF but profits were weak, and the company had severe problems with poor-quality manufacturing and strong Japanese competition. .
In 1981, Vaughn Beals and 13 other managers bought out the company, and then proceeded to install a, Materials as Needed (MAN) system, to reduce inventory and to stabilize the production schedule. This also forced production to work with marketing to create more accurate forecasts, resulting in only a 10% variance. .
1985 Harley-Davidson went public again, James L. Ziemer, the CFO stated, "You throw cash at it, try to grow to fast, you'd destroy this thing."" .
During 1993, the company acquired 49% interest in Buell Motorcycle Company, a manufacturer of sport/performance motorcycles. And then in 1995 the company purchased all of the common stock and common stock equivalents of Eaglemark Financial Services Inc.