The firm of Harman Bros. Ltd in Vyse Street, was founded in 1923 and the unusually rapid growth of the business was a testimony to the initiative and foresight of the two men who directed its progress. It was decided at the outset that the firm’s success must depend to a great extent on the production of up-to-date lines.
A large share of the market in smoker’s lines – cigarette boxes, cases and kindred articles – was formerly held by foreign manufacturers, but Harman Bros. soon captured a large slice of the market. Customers even reported to them that German representatives were buying the firm’s products to take abroad to be copied.
This specialisation enabled the firm to produce well over 500 patterns of cigarette cases alone – in chromium, shagreen, imitation gold, and in engine-turned silver cigarette boxes and ash trays, also using a surprisingly large variety of patterns in different metals and finishes, many of them embodying finely modelled animal or nude-figures.
Mr D H Harman, the M.D., was firmly convinced of the enhanced value of the branded product, and the fact that the trade names ‘Harbro’, ‘Aristocrat, Windsor’ and ‘Neata’ became widely known was proof of this policy. D.H Harman’s brother, H. I. Harman joined the firm and both brothers spent a lot of their time ‘on the road’ which they attributed to their success, giving a ‘personal touch’ which also provided an insight into market trends.
In 1936, as a result of increased business, it became necessary to find more accommodation and the adjoining premises at 115 Vyse Street were acquired. Several of the departments were transferred with as little interruption of business as possible and work was soon proceeding at full pressure, but the directors were experiencing the general difficulty in securing the necessary type of skilled labour.