Leader Of The Pack

Dec. 21, 2004
Indian chairman fits a 'softer' image.

Working with Indian Motorcycle is literally a labor of love for Frank O'Connell, chairman and former CEO. "It's great to work where you can hear your products being fired up and driven around," says the motorcycle buff, who owns several bikes that he keeps in different states including Utah, North Carolina and Vermont, to enable him to participate in local and regional rides. Of course, another benefit of being a customer of the company's products is that O'Connell understands his market inside and out. He owns a 1939 Indian Chief with a sidecar, as well as a 1946 model, in addition to a new Chief. "I'm probably as close to the target consumer and enthusiast," he says. "I've probably lived the dream that draws a lot of people to motorcycles." The typical Indian buyer tends to be an executive who rides on weekends or takes extended road trips. Says O'Connell, "Half of our purchasers are born-again bikers, baby boomers who are now coming back to biking, but they want a classy bike." O'Connell, 59 and blue-eyed, wears loafers to the office, often rides one of his Indians to work from his home down the coast in Carmel, and looks anything but the biker. In fact, he points out, the "softer" image is totally in keeping with the Indian heritage. "The Indian brand is softer than Harley, and it lends itself more to the female element as well." Women are the fastest growth segment of the motorcycle cruiser market, O'Connell adds.

Sponsored Recommendations

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of IndustryWeek, create an account today!