Harlan Corporation, like many companies, grew from the vision of its founder. Harlan's culture and values are a reflection of that vision and the defi ning challenges in the company's history. Harlan Global consists of two different operations, Harlan Tractor and Harlan OEM and has been certified to the latest ISO standard (ISO 9001:2000) since January 2001.
Harlan Tractor designs, manufactures and supplies towing tractors for airports, military bases, industrial factories and amusement parks, manufacturing all parts of the vehicles except the engines and tires. Vehicles and spare parts that are supplied in over 81 countries have been primarily sourced or manufactured in China over the last 20 years.
Jim Kaplan, Harlan's founder, grew up in Sioux City Iowa, where his father owned and operated a scrap yard. At age 11, Jim had already built his fi rst motor vehicle from scrap parts.
After earning his International Business degree from the University of Miami, Jim was accepted into the marine's pilot training program and ranked first in his class through the entire training. He served as captain for three years while living in Japan, Florida and California, where one of his duties included purchasing spare parts.
EARLY HISTORY OF HARLAN In 1958, Kaplan founded Harlan Corporation to rent and rebuild lift trucks. While repairing these lift trucks, Jim analyzed the causes of component failure and found that high failure parts were not available. So he redesigned the parts, developed sources for new designs and bought the parts to repair his customers' lift trucks. This drive to reengineer components to improve reliability and reduce costs remains at the heart of Harlan's operations.
Jim was selling parts all over the world, developing lifelong friendships in over 70 countries, with both customers and suppliers. In 1968, a Venezuelan customer asked Kaplan to make towing tractors. Jim went out, bought a Model E Clark, and reengineered it - Harlan had all of the required parts in surplus inventory. Since they only required the development and production of the frame to prepare for final assembly, the first 25 tractors took two months to design and produce.
Harlan had an entrepreneurial bias toward action. Jim took on projects, and through his personal intervention, accomplished things overnight that larger companies would have pondered for months. It was an exciting place with lots of energy. Harlan was an early adopter of computer technology, having implemented a computer-based perpetual inventory control system by the early 70's. By the early 80's however, there were signs that the business had outgrown its roots. The company needed a more defi ned structure and organization to enable effective delegation.
By 1984, Harlan had successfully bid on and started deliveries for government contracts, which contributed to the expansion of production capacity throughout the next ten years. The company grew from ten tractors a month to 90 tractors a month with both government and commercial business growth, Harlan's future was looking bright.
In 1989, Jamie Kaplan, who had started and operated Harlan Automotive Parts, joined Harlan as President when Jim Sr. suffered a brief illness. Jamie began his tenure by upgrading the computer systems. In 1993, he launched the development of the Low Profile Tractor and initiated a global marketing effort that led to growing worldwide sales of this new tractor. The new tractor was designed around proven components, including the engine, transmission, drive axle, steering gear and steer axle. Many options were made standard, the goal was to set a new standard for driver comfort and equipment reliability. Today, the Low Profile Tractor is Harlan's highest volume product.