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A Star is Born: Norstar Tracks A Star is Born: By Meghan Ryan, NATM Communications Director


Norstar was founded by the Harms brothers in 2012 and in a very short time the company has risen to become one of the major players in the truck bed market. Bringing to the table decades of manufacturing experience, the brothers have experienced all levels of manufacturing from the ground-up. They were born to humble beginnings in the agriculture industry and as young adults moved to different parts of the country early in life to purse different paths. Although each brother started in different directions, eventually they were able to all combine their knowledge and experience to form a company of their own.


"When I arrived in Brookston [TX] in 2013, Norstar was just farm land. We started the dirt work, poured the first slab, and then we started closing it in. In the beginning it was just me and a helper building the shop,” said Dave Harms, Purchasing Manager. “I wondered if I had made the right choice.”


After a few months, Jake and John also arrived on site and started setting up some of the first equipment.


“We started off with just a band saw and a high-end plasma table, but quickly saw we needed to bring in more advanced equipment to build the products needed in such a competitive market,” explained Jake Harms, Operations Manager. “We quickly started adding more state-of-the- art machines and we started refining our assembly line process to improve our bed quality.”


68 March/April 2016 www.NATM.com


"We were always very hopeful that Norstar would take off, but never expected the reception we have received from dealers and customers across the country. It has been amazing,” said Abe Harms, President of Norstar, who fully joined the brothers in early 2015 after over 20 years in the trailer industry. “In just a few short years the facility has grown from 20,000 square feet to just over 100,000 square feet and we are not stopping there. Framework is almost complete on an additional 200,000 plus square foot facility in the back. That will bring us to right around eight acres of production facility under one roof. We just added more laser cutters, press brakes and saws and later this year we will start implementing automation in certain departments. Iron Bull was launched in late 2015 and have had just as a warm welcome to the trailer market as the truck bed market. We also have a brand new line of 14 yard dump bodies


and pup trailers in the pipeline – and more exciting new products to come.”


When asked what makes Norstar unique among manufacturers, Abe responded, “One of our major manufacturing advantages to date has been our efficiency. We rely heavily on our ERP system and with our carefully structured bill of materials we know exactly what materials are required for production and when. Our workflow consists 100 percent of planned work orders. Every cut, bend, grind, prep, and finish is planned, reported and evaluated.” Abe continued, “We recently developed our own shop floor input terminals that allow us to effortlessly interact with our system from the shop floor. Our reporting has really reached the next level with this step. We can almost instantly see productivity and efficiency per workstation now and in the future our dealers will be able to get a real time status one the progress of their orders in the shop.”


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