Predicting the future has never been part of my skill set. The Harrelson Team discusses the future of our company every few days including upcoming innovations, production processes, improving customer service, website interface changes, etc. We make plans, set goals and then do our best to meet our own expectations while serving all of our clients.
But we aren't making widgets at Harrelson Trumpets. Our product line is incredibly diverse with variations far beyond all other trumpet manufacturers combined. We enjoy the challenge as we learn something new every day and we are reminded often that it takes time and careful planning to create the finest instruments in our industry.
Our greatest challenge has always been finding balance between growth in numbers with growth in innovation. We have introduced no fewer than five innovations per year, every year since 2001. That's a lot of change in a relatively short period of time. And our customer base and production growth has been equally as challenging. We are discussing HT solutions with at least a dozen new customers every day. Most new customers are considering SWE and VPS upgrades in the form of the AGR Retrofit, SWE Trim Kits, Gap Solutions and 5MM Modular Mouthpieces. And every week we receive at least three new custom trumpet orders. Considering that I personally build every one of our products and instruments with the assistance of two shop assistants, this is a full work load.
We have experienced steady growth and exposure since the first day I posted one of my trumpet creations on eBay so many years ago. To say we are honored, excited and thrilled with the growth of Harrelson Trumpets over the past 15 years is not enough. We truly love our company and working with each and every one of you gives us a great sense of purpose and pride. We see our clients as family as we work so closely to share your vision bringing your ideas into reality. Sometimes it is hard to believe how much we have grown in so little time. If you haven't read the history of Harrelson Trumpets, I encourage you to do so here.
The Past Three Years
To better understand where we are taking Harrelson Trumpets in the future, we will look at the past three years, which has been the most challenging period of my entire life.
I was just beginning production on the 5MM Modular Mouthpiece when I had an unexpected health concern that has since been remedied. My recovery was longer than anticipated and a year later I began re-learning the 5MM system I had previously designed along with the machining strategies necessary to make them. In that time, I opened a second location in Denver, Colorado where I now machine and assemble all Harrelson Trumpets. Our Minneapolis location currently offers customer service, marketing, inventory and hand finishing services.
Soon after opening our Denver machine shop, I introduced the VPS also known as the Variable Performance System. I also invented and began producing the VPS Receiver designed to adjust air flow, flexibility and slotting available on all Summit trumpets. Other VPS innovations introduced in the past year include the Mod2 Finger Buttons, VPS Modular leadpipes, SWE machined bell crook and Modular finger rings.
What are we planning for the future of Harrelson Trumpets? Through our daily interactions with customers via social media sources, phone, email and in-person discussions, we are listening to your hopes, dreams, ideas and concerns. And we're ready to share our plan for the future with you, which includes the following strides in delivery time, customer service and quality craftsmanship within the next year.
1) Delivery Time
2) Customer Service
3) Quality Craftsmanship
Our delivery time on trumpets has been delayed several times due to machinery repairs, which have challenged our production for the past 18 months. Despite over 10 months of machinery down time since the beginning of 2014, we have delivered the vast majority of our trumpet orders with glowing reviews. However, some of our more complex custom orders have been on hold and it is our goal to finish these quickly as our VMC will soon be running again after a major overhaul. And to prevent future delays, we will purchase newer CNC machinery, which I will discuss in a moment.
The new 5MM Modular Mouthpiece system has been our greatest production challenge. This system requires hundreds of variations in parts that must all interconnect so manufacturing tolerances are extremely tight between our short production runs. We have delayed the launch of the 5MM due to machinery repairs that have interrupted production on numerous occasions. Finally, after three years of hard work, patience and intense focus, we will be delivering the first orders in Bach and Yamaha sizes later this month.
Understanding the 5MM is also a challenge as providing a comprehensive system is new to all of us. Christine and I are working on creating a flow chart that will become an interactive page guiding each client through the process of choosing the best Rim, Cup, Throat, Backbore, Body and Nut variations as well as offering insight when creating multiple variations for different performance needs. We will also create a comprehensive 5MM reference to give each of you a starting point within the new system based on your current mouthpiece size.
Why purchase new CNC machinery? Our CNC vertical machining center is 15 years old and our CNC lathe is now 11 years old. Both machines will require more frequent repairs, potentially slowing down production in the future. By purchasing reliable duplicate machines, we can better serve our customers and ensure on time deliveries. We will be keeping our original machinery to further increase production capacity and machining up-time.
Would you like to support the next Harrelson Trumpets machinery purchase and receive a reward for your contribution? We will be launching a Kickstarter campaign in the near future and you can help by spreading the word and contributing towards our goal of purchasing a late model CNC vertical machining center. Rewards will include some things you've always wanted even though they didn't exist!
Watch my blog, Facebook and Instagram pages for a sneak preview of our Kickstarter rewards as well as regular updates on 5MM, SWE accessory and Trumpet progress photos and videos.