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Published February 06, 2012, 10:12 AM

Tired of plugging the grain auger?

MINOT, N.D. — A decade ago, Canadian farmer John Gehrer couldn’t find a full bin alarm on the market that fit his farm’s needs. So he invented one of his own.

By: Jonathan Knutson, Agweek

MINOT, N.D. — A decade ago, Canadian farmer John Gehrer couldn’t find a full bin alarm on the market that fit his farm’s needs. So he invented one of his own.

Today, he and his wife, Angelika, have sold more than 2,500 of the devices through their company Never Spill Spout Inc. in Canada, the United States and New Zealand.

“They work very well. They’re very simple,” Angelika says of the Never Spill Spout, which signals when a bin is full and prevents the auger from plugging.

The Gehrers, who farm at Niverville, Manitoba, south of Winnipeg, were among the exhibitors at the recent KMOT Ag Show in Minot, N.D.

They’ve been selling the full bin alarm since 2004, says Angelika, who handles marketing and public relations.

“It’s a safety and convenience thing. Who wants to climb a bin? Bins are getting higher; farmers aren’t getting younger. Also, there’s the time it takes to unplug an auger and clean up a spill,” she says.

The No Spill Spout fits most augers and is installed in 15 to 20 minutes, Angelika says.

The spout is placed two to four feet into the grain bin from the top of the bin. Once the grain reaches the bottom of the spout, the grain pushes an enclosed sensor and an alarm alerts the operator that the bin is full, according to information from the company.

Once the alarm is on, continued filling causes grain to flow out of the side of the spout, preventing the auger from plugging.

The Never Spill Spout is made for 10-, 13- and 16-inch augers. It plugs into the tractor and doesn’t require a battery. It comes with a night light.

The Never Spill Spout typically costs $520 to $585, plus shipping, depending on the size. There’s a one-year money-back guarantee.

Angelika says the business has been profitable, in part because it emphasizes “keeping prices low to increase sales.”

Most of the Never Spill Spout is built on the family farm by the Gehrers and their daughter. Occassionally, in busy times, a neighbor helps them.

The Gehrers have made several improvements to the device through the years, typically in response to suggestions from customers. Last June, for instance, a “no-snag” spout was introduced.

The Never Spill Spout “is by farmers for farmers,” Angelika says.

High grain prices in the past few years have helped sales slightly. But demand for the product would be strong even without the high prices, Angelika says.

“More and more farmers are going to some kind of full bin alarm, just for the safety,” she says.

Information: www.neverspillspout.com or johngehrer@yahoo.ca.

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