When you think of new replacement wood for pickup beds and realize it comes from Minnesota, it's easy to picture a sawmill operation in the heart of the north woods. Not so. And Bruce Horkey doesn't look a thing like Paul Bunyan, either.
Actually, the "home place" of Bruce Horkey's Wood & Parts is surrounded by fields of corn and soybeans outside of Windom, in the southwest corner of the state. This is where Bruce and his family grew up. But it's also in close proximity to the prime hardwood area of the United States.
That, according to Bruce, would be the Mississippi River Valley in southeastern Minnesota and southwestern Wisconsin. "We use mostly oak and ash," explains Bruce. "We buy it dried and surfaced, then we finish it to size and shape."
Since 1980 Horkey's has been supplying the truck customizing and restoration trades with high quality bed wood kits and accompanying skid strips and hardware. As the business has grown, it has also branched out to include a whole line of pickup body parts--steel box sides, front panels and tailgates, fiberglass fenders and running boards, custom steel rolled pans, even fiberglass front fenders, hoods, and grille surrounds for popular Ford and Chevy models.
One of the latest products is what the Horkey's call the Show Deck. This is a beautiful hardwood pickup bed liner with stainless steel skid strips that drops in on top of your existing bed floor, be it steel or a wood floor, that is just not too attractive. The Show Deck can be installed in minutes if, for example, you want to take your daily driver to a show or cruise night.
As for the standard bed wood kits, the wood is cut to fit your particular application, with grooves for the skid strips and holes for hold-down bolts, and sanded on both sides ready to finish for prices ranging from $210 to $510. Custom show wood, the best pieces selected with a similar grain pattern, can be specified for a nominal up-charge, and more exotic woods can be special ordered. They also sell kits containing all the supplies needed to finish the wood. Skid strip kits range from less than $100 for steel to about $300 for polished stainless. Bolt sets, tailgate hardware, and a multitude of other parts and accessories can be ordered from Horkey's 40-page catalog.
Before carving his niche in the replacement pickup parts business, Bruce Horkey was a cabinetmaker working with his building contractor father. His life-long interest in cars and trucks led him to figure out how to blend the two together. During his own truck restoration project, Bruce learned how much woodwork was involved and discovered his niche. "I could see a market there, and I had the equipment to get into it," he says.
He pulled in various old trucks and used them to make patterns and check the fit of his bed parts. He doesn't claim to have patterns and plans for every possible application because "customers keep surprising me with new ones," he says. "One guy came in with a '50 Holden ute (Australian) he's restoring and needed a bed floor for it." Yes, custom applications are welcome. One customer bought in a low-mileage '50 Ford pumper fire engine; Horkey's made him a flatbed and stake sides to haul his restored 9N Ford tractor.
Since high school Bruce had his eye on a certain farm place west of Windom. Eventually he was able to buy it, move his family into the farmhouse and erect buildings for the business. Old trucks bought for parts and patterns occupy the rest of the four acres. Bruce's brothers, Kim and Ted, are part of the homegrown work force of six full-time and two part-time employees.
Along with products to serve the booming classic truck hobby, the Horkey's are also looking to the future. "The last year any manufacturer had a wood bed floor was 1987," Bruce explains, "so in order to perpetuate the business, we developed the Show Deck that lies on top of the metal floor. That has opened up the Ranchero and El Camino market and even some station wagons." They have also developed a wooden deck for the PT Cruiser, Pontiac's Scorche show car, and a Blackwood prototype for a Texas Lincoln-Mercury dealer. "Projects like these give us a future," Bruce says.
Speaking of the future, if rebuilding the back half of a vintage pickup is in yours, give Horkey's a call. They thrive on direct contact with their customers!
In this unassuming building in the wilds of Minnesota you'll find top-notch pickup parts b
That's Bruce's latest project --a '55 F-250 with a '71 429 engine and C-6 transmission--si
Just back from a show, Bruce Horkey gets up to date with Kelly Penner, the first voice you
Some of the pickup bed floor patterns hang at the ready. Horkey's doesn't keep a large inv
Planks of Mississippi Valley hardwood are kept in this storage area until needed to make u
Quincy Robinson (left) and Tim Morphew (right) put boards through a machine that sands the
Kim Horkey makes plugs for shipping tubes from scrap wood...
...then packages a set of bed strips for shipping.
The company stamps out its own bed strips at a machine shop in town.
This punch puts the attachment holes in the bed strips.
Here Bruce jigs up a bed subframe for a '37 Ford. Ford beds from 1932 to 1950 had a metal
Horkey's stocks many bed and pickup parts from other suppliers to ship with the replacemen
Bruce discusses a customer's order for special wood with brother Ted, who's involved with
Some old pickups were acquired for product development; others have been hauled in from su
Naturally, Bruce's personal ride--the '55 F-250--is a demonstrator for his company's produ
S O U R C E S
| BRUCE HORKEY'S WOOD & PARTS |
46284 440th St., Dept. CT
Windom, MN 56101