The Founder of Towmaster Trailers, Harlan Palm, passed away on December 27th, 2021 at the age of 90. Harlan’s innovative spirit and drive pushed Towmaster Trailers to join the ranks of the most trusted equipment trailers in the industry. As our team mourns the great loss of our founder, we reflect on the great contributions Harlan has made on the equipment trailer industry, as well as the community of Litchfield, MN.
A Vision of Success
Harlan Palm was born March 28, 1931, in Litchfield, MN. After high school, Harlan joined the United States Navy where he served until 1955. During his service, Harlan developed an interest in aviation and transportation and served as a flight engineer. He went on to work at the Minneapolis airport where he met his wife, Jeraldean Elise. Harlan and Jerri eventually took over the Palm family farm, where he began to envision the products that would later grow to be Towmaster’s industry leading products.
Investing in the Future of the Industry
Harlan’s dedication to innovation led to some of the industry's most important equipment products. Palm Industries was instrumental in the creation and production of Roll Over Protection Systems (ROPS) for construction equipment prior to mandates for construction and agricultural equipment to be equipped with a ROPS.
In the 70s, Palm Industries was sold and relocated to Watertown, SD and continues the manufacturing of these products. Harlan then began manufacturing and selling Towmaster Trailers. In the ‘80s, Harlan was approached by a skid steer loader manufacturer to redesign their grader attachment. Harlan’s unique industry knowledge and problem solving skills helped him take on the challenge as he started manufacturing attachments for skid steer and track loaders.
His attachment company (Palm Attachments) was later sold to Bobcat. In 1994 Towmaster moved into the original Palm Industries building in Litchfield to manufacture and sell trailers. That company grew into an industry leading nationally-renowned manufacturer. Towmaster Trailers continues to honor Harlan’s innovative spirit through the creation of products and processes that ensure the long term success of every customer.
An Impact on the Litchfield Community
Since starting Palm Industries in the 1970s, Harlan Palm’s companies have created hundreds of jobs for people in the Litchfield and surrounding areas. Through the decades, Harlan employed so many people, Towmaster Trailers grew to be one of Litchfield’s largest manufacturing employers.
In addition to creating numerous career opportunities, the Palms established the Harland and Jeraldean Palm Scholarship Fund, which provides funding to local students from Litchfield, Atwater, Cosmos, or Grove City who are interested in pursuing secondary education in engineering, manufacturing and trade skills. Each year, the foundation gives four $2,500 scholarships, impacting dozens of students over the year and reinforcing Minnesota’s manufacturing legacy.
Honoring a Litchfield Legend
The Towmaster team is honored to live in the light of Litchfield legend Harlan Palm. Outside of his incredible contributions to our industry, Harlan will be remembered most for his love of family, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
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