NORTON boss Stuart Garner has agreed to write a regular guest blog for Bike Social. As the company celebrates getting ready for shipping bikes to the USA, here’s his take on where Norton is at and what he's got planned for the company's future.
“After four years in the bike industry I’ve met many people, the good, the bad and the downright bonkers! The guy that persuaded me to write this blog is definitely one of the good ones!! Potski twisted my arm to write a regular blog and I’m happy to see him back in the industry again.
Back at the Norton factory we’ve got ourselves into a really strong position in the last few months. Long gone are the dark days of struggling for parts from the same handful of poor suppliers, we’ve now brought many of the parts in house which gives us much greater control of the components. This has taken many months to organise, but it has given us all here a huge lesson in why our UK bike industry has disappeared and what’s needed to bring it back. Just look around, we have lost all but all of our lovely classic names. It’s a measure of just how hard it is to bring them back and make a long term viable business out of building British bikes.
We make our own engine in house and have the engine cases cast in Birmingham, the old heartland of our manufacturing industry. Seeing some of these old established companies gives you faith we still have the ability to make things here in the UK. Having invested heavily in new CNC machines and a new fabrication/welding department we are slowly turning ourselves into one of these manufacturing companies.
I’ve just come from the Norton factory floor having inspected our latest frame and swing arm assembly which is also made in house. It’s a great feeling to be making things and seeing the team here grow, they have so much pride in the job, it’s amazing. Doing all the things your dad said we should do years ago does send a shiver down the spine!!
The increase in our parts brings the increase in finished bikes. We hand build all our bikes here the old fashioned way with the same guy’s starting and finishing the bike in their own build bay. They take great pride when building the bike and this enables the customer to know who personally built his bike. We very often have customers spend the day with us and watch their bike being built, taking pictures as it develops from a naked frame into a finished bike.
The steadily growing volume of bike build starts to give us the opportunity of good UK export sales, which was once the main part of the Norton business. We have already sent a few bikes into Europe and in the coming months we will be sending hand built British bike exports back into the USA for the first time in nearly 40 years!”