Love of Sailing Steered Harken CEO to Port – Bill Goggins

When Bill Goggins thinks about his role as chief executive officer for Pewaukee-based yacht equipment manufacturer Harken Inc., he firmly believes that his position with the company has a lot to do with dumb luck.

But he also acknowledges that it was his concerted effort to tie together his passion around competitive sailing with his work that ultimately landed him the job.

“Harken was on every kind of boat that I was ever on when I was growing up,” Goggins said.

He received his bachelor’s degree in marketing and communications and his master’s degree in business from Marquette University in Milwaukee. When he started shopping for his dream job in 1999, he was working for an advertising agency.

“Being a very passionate sailor and tying in my marketing experience, I literally walked into my office and typed in just to see if there were any openings and there was a vague, poorly written job description for a marketing position,” Goggins said.
Picking up the telephone, he called Harken, had an interview with company founders Peter Harken and Olaf Harken the next day and got the job, which tied in the sport that he loves with brand management.

Peter Harken hired Goggins to help his brother, Olaf Harken, in the marketing department because Goggins was full of energy. His advertising agency experience made him a perfect fit.

“He just kept proving himself,” Peter Harken said. “He knows the product and is a very good sailor.”
In 2008, Goggins became the company’s CEO. Then the recession hit and Harken Inc.’s order book was decimated. In three days, the company lost about 60 percent of its business.


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