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Harlow Brothers began business in the depths of the recession of the 1920s, when brothers Reg and Vernon (who had been making ladders and wheelbarrows in the back garden of the family house) decided to go in to business on their own. The business of making small sheds and chicken sheds began literally in a field which had been left to them by their mother in Long Whatton’s Hathern Road – which is where the company’s headquarters stands today.
The business prospered and the Thirties saw the brothers employing some 30 staff, mainly from the village. The business expanded on Vernon Harlow’s improved knowledge of poultry and he set up an Accredited Poultry Farm on The Green on Long Whatton where poultry houses were designed and manufactured. This became the main part of the business - in addition to the greenhouses, sheds and garages which continued to be made.
Developing their craft, the brothers moved in to making prefabricated wooden bungalows, some of which can still be seen in the village today on Turvey Lane – more or less as they were built 80 years ago.
War bought with it enforced changes in the business when the enterprising Harlow Brothers manufactured Air Raid Shelters until supplies of sheet steel were exhausted, followed by the manufacture of ladders for the Fire Service – essential in the Blitz.
With the lack of imported timber, a saw mill was built for English timber production. Woodland was purchased and timber converted for essential uses such as railway sleepers and pit props. Vernon's sons: Bill, Bob and John returned to the firm after active wartime service as the manufacturing business returned. At this time the company produced farm trailers and began returning to the original business of manufacturing poultry housing, although business was slow due to the continued restriction on imported timber.
Reginald Harlow died in 1952 after a long illness. The business passed to his brother Vernon and his sons and the partnership became a limited company where expansion continued.
Vernon Harlow died in 1986 at the age of 86, having worked within a few months of his death.
The turn of the Century brought investment into engineered timber products with the acquisition of a local truss rafter manufacturer H&S Timber Systems in 2001. Further investment in new plant and machinery has seen a doubling in output and a move to new purpose built premises in 2004 when the company was re-branded Harlow Timber Systems.
Still a family owned operation, Harlow Bros employs five members of the family and 200+ employees in its various operations across 10 sites – striving to provide a personal service to each and every customer.