Register / Sign in

UK

13/04/2018

Away from the seafront and yacht harbour in Torquay, a factory and warehouse is busy meeting worldwide demand for motorcycle parts. LF Harris International operates in a surprisingly buoyant market, supplying the trade with spares for British machines out of production for 30 years or more.

After handling British spares at north London dealer Rex Judd, Les Harris launched his own business in 1973, just as the old industry was collapsing.

Trading as LF Harris International, Les and wife Shirley focused on widening the range of spares and improving quality. Word soon gets around among classic restorers if a pattern part is not up to scratch. 

The Torquay operation employs 16 staff, and components from washers to exhaust pipes are made on the premises.

Triumph twins from 1945 to 1988 are a speciality, but BSA parts are made if there's a need and the job is viable, and some common items from the Norton Villiers Triumph era are supplied to Andover Norton. While most output goes to dealers in the UK and America, the Antipodes and Scandinavia are also regular destinations for daily despatches from boxes to pallets-full.

When Les Harris died in 2009, Shirley took over the reins as managing director. The plan is to make LF Harris International a tight-knit family business. Shirley's sister Eileen Barker oversees all operations; Shirley's son-in-law Mark Beasley is head of sales, assisted by Les's daughter, Debbie Harris, while Shirley and Les's son Chris is a CAD specialist.

Purchase and development manager John Birch is not family but has been with the company since the 1980s. His unrivalled knowledge of part numbers and materials sourcing comes from 16 years spent at Meriden, where he rose to be a director, and involvement in 1980s Harris machine production in Devon.

"We recently made a batch of 100 Triumph T140 seamless fuel tanks that were all shipped out in one day," he says.

There are no plans to make pattern parts or accessories for Hinckley Triumphs.

"This is our niche," Shirley says. And I can sit here and say we do it well."

www.lfharris.co.uk