When I was nineteen years old, attending St Olaf College in Minnesota, I had this brilliant idea that I would drop out of school and start building trumpets for a living. No one in my inner circle liked this idea including my closest friends, parents and professors. They opposed the idea for many reasons, but I suspect it was mostly because they knew I was serious. Seemingly everyone in my life suddenly clung onto fear of the unknown as I left school and began something entirely new. It was as if they could all see a massive wall cloud laying in wait, ready to attack as I was oblivious to the dangers of walking across the plains alone.
Twenty years later, I enthusiastically "build horns for a living" just as I had imagined. In contrast to my original vision, Harrelson Trumpets has grown to encompass far more than I could have ever comprehended as a young person. I don't mean to say young people are not capable of understanding multiple disciplines including business, engineering and physics. But the diversity in trumpet-related knowledge, experience and understanding required to produce a Summit trumpet or modular mouthpiece is far beyond what most of you are willing to endure even in the form of a detailed essay.
When I look back on the last twenty years of my life, I wonder how time has gone by so quickly. And at the same, it almost seems to have happened in slow motion. Sometimes I feel like I have spent fifty or even one hundred years learning, even though I can count to twenty. Waking up every day with the same overall goals in mind is a serious physical and mental exercise. Fine tuning my understanding of physics in all its forms while complimenting these principles with the human experience to discover solutions to problems previously unidentified is my life. My scientific process is both objective and subjective as I always test every idea personally by creating music with my innovations.
Many of my friends and colleagues are highly respected professionals each in their own discipline including engineering, physics, leadership, medicine, law, business, government, manufacturing and the like. Each of them has dedicated their lives to their chosen field of study, many of them with obvious passion to learn more with each coming day. In a sense, they are living their life's work in balance with family, friends and all of life's other opportunities and challenges and I strive to do the same.
Yet is amazes me when someone visits my shop and asks, "Did you give everyone the day off?" because I am the only person here. The assumption is that there is a building full of busy factory workers turning out trumpet parts day and night. There are only five of us at HT and I am the only building trumpets, mouthpieces and accessories. Jen designs and manages all media and social networking. Christine works closely with individual clients to better understand the solutions we offer. James S. cleans and puts the final touches on trumpets and accessories. And James Knabe travels around the country offering trumpet clinics while working with individuals on trumpet solutions.
For many years, the same question came across my desk again and again, "Who builds the trumpets that you brand as Harrelson?". The answer was always the same, I build Harrelson trumpets myself.
Other common questions include requests to reveal:
What does this have to do with shortening the wait time to receive your new trumpet or mouthpiece? I'm glad you asked! My efforts specifically in the production of trumpets and accessories is cumulative overall. Almost everything I do in the realm of production is aimed at creating highly accurate repeatable processes. Over the past five years, I have improved so many design elements and production processes, that the time required to build has diminished while the quality has increased considerably.
A trumpet I build today is not equal to one I built last year or ten years ago. The trumpet I deliver today is designed to be more versatile and efficient with SWE Technology and the Adjustable Gap/Venturi Receiver. And the improved production processes ensure every trumpet is machined to a much higher level of precision than previously possible. Considering that everything I produce is precision machined and not cheaply mass produced, time is my most valuable asset.
Now that my new Denver location is up and running at a higher level of production and accuracy, your wait time for most trumpet models and components will be reduced considerably. The only exclusions are orders requiring physical redesign like art trumpets, the Satchmo Summerfest yearly model and the new Bravura flugelhorn.
I am very excited to be exhibiting at the National Trumpet Competition at Messiah College next week and for the first time in history I will have 6 AGR Summit trumpets available to play. And looking towards the International Trumpet Guild Conference in May, I will offer 10+ AGR Summit trumpets in various configurations and over one thousand 5MM Modular Mouthpiece options. These innovations could solve the majority of your equipment challenges in just one day.