A tale of 2 inventions
When Chester Schantz attended the recent Big Iron Farm Show in West Fargo, N.D., he overheard someone talking about a device that reduces the odds of combine fires during sunflower harvest. Schantz says he turned around and told the person, "That...
When Chester Schantz attended the recent Big Iron Farm Show in West Fargo, N.D., he overheard someone talking about a device that reduces the odds of combine fires during sunflower harvest. Schantz says he turned around and told the person, "That was me. I came up with it."
Schantz, a Hebron , N.D., farmer who raises sunflowers, was featured in an Oct. 2, 2011, Agweek article that looked at the combine "chimney" he designed and built. He came up with the device to stop sunflower dust from getting near the combine engine, which can lead to fires.
Now, a year later and with the 2012 sunflower harvest under way, Agweek checked back with Schantz to learn what reaction he's received from other sunflower producers.
Schantz -- who was just preparing to begin his own sunflower harvest when contacted again by Agweek -- says a number of farmers asked him about the chimney in the past year.
"But I haven't made a penny off it," he says.
He refers anyone interested in the chimney to Stelter Repair, a New Leipzig, N.D., company that works with welding, machining and fabrication. Schantz is a customer of the New Leipzig company.
Mark Stelter says his company makes sunflower chimneys, but isn't using Schantz's version.
"Never seen it, never talked with him about it," Stelter says.
Stelter Repair came up with its own combine chimney model last year after a customer requested one, Stelter says.
Today, Stelter Repair custom-builds the chimneys for customers. Prices vary widely, from roughly $1,000 to $4,000 per chimney.
"There are a lot of variables," including whether the customer or Stelter Repair installs the device, Stelter says.
"Unfortunaly, every combine (model) seems like it takes a different chimney on it," he says.
If Stelter Repair hasn't built a chimney for a specific model, the customer needs to bring his combine to the shop.
If Stelter Repair knows the combine model and previously built a chimney for that model, a customer doesn't need to bring in the combine.
Stelter estimates his company will sell about a dozen chimneys by the time sunflower harvest ends this fall.
North Dakota is the nation's leading sunflower producer. South Dakota ranks second.
Stelter says he thinks the chimney can be a profitable sideline for his company, although he doesn't think the device will become a major moneymaker.
More information: www.stelterrepair.com
Another ND inventor
Larry Mosbrucker sensed opportunity a few years ago. The New Salem, N.D., businessman continues to work to take advantage of it.
Mosbrucker and his StopSensor device were profiled in the July 16, 2012, issue of Agweek.
He developed the device to simplify loading and unloading trucks in agriculture and other businesses. It uses a sensor and special reflectors to detect when trailers are aligned properly for loading and unloading.
Mosbrucker said in July that area farmers could buy the device in time for this year's harvest.
He says now that difficulties in obtaining materials hampered production of the StopSensor, which is manufactured by the electronic division of Richardton, N.D.-based Amber Waves.
But Mosbrucker says interest in StopSensor from farmers and others is strong and he remains confident about his invention's future.
More information: www.stopsensor .