Ken Schmidt to Speak at National Parking Association Convention

The National Parking Association has announced that Ken Schmidt, branding guru and former director of communications for Harley-Davidson Motor Company, will speak at the opening general session of The Parking Show of Shows, NPAs 57th Annual Convention and Exposition, to be held Sept. 15-18 at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada.
As former director of communications for Harley-Davidson Motor Company, Schmidt played an active role in one of the most celebrated turnarounds in corporate history. How the people of Harley-Davidson were able to turn this great company around, as successfully as we did, makes for one of the best business stories of all time, he says. His presentation, Make Some Noise, is a fascinating story of building an entirely new corporate culture, of rekindling relationships with customers, and reaching out to new ones in completely untraditional ways.

Now an independent consultant, he has specialized in marketing and branding issues for such corporate powerhouses as Coca-Cola and IBM. An avid motorcyclist himself, Schmidt discusses his struggle to restore Harley-Davidsons image and re-ignite consumer demand for its motorcycles. He details how successful corporate cultures must maintain relationships with veteran customers and innovatively pursue new ones.

One of the most in-demand speakers and communications consultants in America, Ken Schmidt has lived a life that most can only dream about. He has toured the world on two wheels, met with presidents and royalty, partied with movie and music legends, and appeared numerous times on network news. The longtime motorcycle enthusiasts formal association with Harley-Davidson began in 1985. As a specialist in corporate positioning and media relations, he was asked to work with the then-struggling Harley-Davidson to help restore the companys image and create demand for its motorcycles. Within a few short years, Harley-Davidson became one of the most visible and frequently reported-on companies in the world, while sales of its motorcycles rocketed upward.

In 1990, Schmidt became director of Harley-Davidsons corporate and financial communications, and served as its primary spokesperson to the media and the financial communities. In 1997, Schmidt left Harley-Davidson to take an ownership position with a highly successful Chicago-based marketing firm, VSA Partners. In addition to Harley-Davidson, VSA serves many of the worlds best-known brands, including General Motors, Coca-Cola, IBM, and Campbell's Soup. In July 1999, he sold his portion of VSA to start his own business, Ken Schmidt Company, and slow down the pace of his life.

Now, Schmidt is a frequent speaker to business groups and academic communities throughout the world. Few speakers generate more positive word-of-mouth and referrals. I love to startle people by exposing them to proven ideas and concepts theyve never imagined, he said. Whether Im talking about how perfectly average people can do extraordinary things - which is now an everyday occurrence at Harley-Davidson - or how to build an entirely new corporate culture, rekindle relationships with customers, or reach out to new ones in completely untraditional ways, Im teaching people to throw conventional approaches out the window. I see opening hearts and minds as my lifes work.

Today, Schmidt shares his expertise with many of Americas leading brands, but happily states that he is semi-retired, which allows him to pursue his other passions. He calls working with the grandson of one of Harley-Davidsons founders to create the book, 100 Years of Harley-Davidson, one of the greatest highs in his lifetime. After all he has accomplished, his philosophy of life and business hasnt changed: Never do whats expected, make yourself as noticeably different as possible, and have a lot more fun than youre supposed to.

Schmidt will be speaking on Tuesday, Sept. 16, at 8:30 a.m. For more information, contact Denise Tatu at 202.470.6303 or

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