You could say it's been quite a ride for

Harley-Davidson's

(HDI)

Jeffrey L. Bleustein.

The motorcycle company said Thursday that Bleustein, 65, will retire as CEO, effective April 30, but continue as chairman.

James L. Ziemer, 54, currently CFO, will replace Bleustein, who's been with the Wisconsin-based company for three decades.

The company, once on the verge of collapse as inexpensive Japanese exports pressured its business, has reported record earnings 17 years in a row.

In 1981, Bleustein was among a group of 13 executives who purchased Harley-Davidson from AMF.

Shares rose $1.11, or 2.5%, to $59.14.