Game Changer: Hagie Helps Young Inventor Realize Dream of Taking His Idea to Market
Ethan Eck knew his Chem-Blade ES could be a game-changer in the way farmers handled chemicals.
“There have been advancements with bulk containers and direct injection, but loading chemicals from jugs and bags will always remain a very important part of chemical application,” explains Eck. “I wanted to load faster while not getting chemicals all over.”
His invention is an enclosed system that empties and loads chemicals from a sealed jug into a sprayer tank in a half second and then thoroughly rinses the container automatically.
“Ethan’s Chem-Blade ES is one of those things that almost hits you upside the head when you see it because it makes so much sense,” says Newt Lingenfelter, senior product manager and business development for Hagie Manufacturing. “You actually have to be exposed to the problem to understand how awesome the solution is he has come up with.”
The Clarion, Iowa, company knew that Eck’s solution was a natural fit for their product line, and it has entered into an agreement with the 24-year-old to exclusively manufacture and distribute the Chem-Blade ES.
The young entrepreneur and the well-known sprayer company were connected through Successful Farming magazine’s Innovation Showcase contest.
“When I initially read about the contest, I thought it would be a good opportunity to get some publicity,” says Eck. “I didn’t realize it would become so much more. Being a part of the mentoring session with Thunder Creek Equipment, which was part of the prize package, gave me a greater understanding of manufacturing, marketing, and the importance of distributorship. It was their insight that led Ralph Lagergren, my business partner, and I to identify Hagie as a potential licensee."
“Finding the right company to license or buy an idea for a win-win situation is very difficult, but with Hagie, the Chem-Blade ES dovetails perfectly into their core business,” says Lagergren.
After months of refining the original idea, the product is ready to take to market.
“We made it bigger so it could handle odd-size jugs as well as bags,” says Lingenfelter. “We also made it more ergonomic by dropping it down a bit lower so guys didn’t have to lift the jugs or bags as high.”
A limited release of 100 units is planned for this spring with plans to open it up in fall 2016. Long-term, the goal is to have the Chem-Blade ES be a common product anywhere there is chemical being handled. The unit will be priced at around $7,200.
“The return on investment is going to be very attractive for potential customers. It’s why we’re excited to bring an idea like this to market,” says Lingenfelter. “It doesn’t matter what color sprayer you have, this product will make your spray season more efficient and safer. It’s like starting the dishwasher. You just close the lid and press Start.”