Local farmer wins Central Nebraska Business Idea Contest
Problem solving is not something that everyone is good at. For one inventor in Rockville, Neb., however, this is not the case. Chris Trumler’s invention, called the Hay Stinger, recently won him $1,000 and the title of Central Nebraska Business Idea Contest winner.
The Hay Stinger was invented by Trumler to help him feed his cattle, without having to use a tractor. It is a trailer that is pulled by a truck, and is a self loading bale cradle.
Trumler originally came up with the idea with his father. They wanted to find an easier, faster way to feed their cattle, and the Hay Stinger was it.
Trumer is a farmer and rancher, who works part time for the USDA as a meat grader.
“It was taking too long to feed the cows in the winter, and we were using a tractor. My father and I were brainstorming on a way to make it faster. So we modified a cradle, and made it into a two wheel trailer that could be pulled behind a pickup. People were asking were we got one, and we told them we made it ourselves,” Trumler said.
He continued, “We then talked to a local manufacturer, and he made some for us. However, we were having trouble selling them. We were watching TV one day, and there was information about a contest by UNK for an invention contest. We entered that, and I thought it was a waste of my time. But we ended up winning.”
The Hay Stinger is a bale cradle on a two wheel trailer. The cradle is slightly off center, so a bale can be tipped off easier. No tractor is needed to load it. The Stinger has a wench on the front. To load a bale, someone needs to back up to the bale, and there is a shaft that goes all the way through the bale. A chain can then be wrapped around the bale. Then the bale is wenched up, and there is a locking mechanism to keep it in place so it does not fall off during transport.
According to Trumler, “When you get to your cows, you dump it off. It will then unroll as you drive. That way all the cows get fed, and if you fall calve like we do, the calves get fed too.”
Trumler plans to use the money that he won to broaden his marketing efforts for the Hay Stinger. He is now seeking a patient on the idea, with the help of the sponsors for the contest. Trumler invented the device three years ago, and has been using it every since.
He is now looking to market
the Hay Stinger to cow/calf producers, and to horse owners. Trumler will enter another entrepreneurship contest held by UNK in the spring, and this one is for a business plan. This contest awards a $10,000 prize.
“We will need to develop a business plan and how we are going to market the idea,” said Trumler.
The contest had nearly 70 entries, according to Shawn Kaskie, director for the Center for Rural Research and Development (CRRD) at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.
“We created the contest to support a cultural of entrepreneurship in the region. We all know that there are people holding on to good business ideas, and this incentivized them to get those ideas moving,” said Kaskie.
To enter the competition, businesspeople were required to record a 60 second video “pitch” of their ideas. According to the CRRD, “Your business idea does not have to be a fully thought-out business model, just a basic description of the product or service, what need it serves, who your customers might be and how you would make it available to those customers.”
The video then had to be submitted and reviewed by industry experts. The ideas were broken down into five categories; Technology (web based, IT), service (not related to IT), service (misc.), product invention and retail.
The reviewers then narrowed down the videos to the top 10, and those submitters were invited to give a 3-5 minute presentation to a panel of judges from the Buffalo County Board of Economic Development and Invest Nebraska, and to a general audience. The judges narrowed down the ideas to the best three, and then the audience voted on the overall winner.
“We were very thrilled with the contest. We had a much better response than we had initially anticipated. It really brought ideas out of the woodwork. It got producers to think about ideas more and putting them down on paper instead of just in their head,” said Carrie Stithem, assistant with the CRRD.
According to the CRRD, “The mission of the Center for Rural Research and Development focuses on empowering the region’s residents to seek avenues of rural economic development by building entrepreneurial and professional capacity, and by encouraging creative thinking about the economic growth of our region. The center espouses the ‘grow-your-own’ philosophy of economic development, known as economic gardening, as well as other approaches to economic and business development.”
The contest was sponsored by Invest Nebraska, Economic Development Council of Buffalo County, and the Center for Rural Research & Development (CRRD) in the UNK College of Business & Technology.