|By MICHELE F. MIHALJEVICH
EDON, Ohio. — About eight years ago, Kenny Reitzel had an idea to make harvesting easier by improving grain flow.
After putting the idea in the back of his mind for a few years, Reitzel worked on it again last year, and the Grain Grabber was created.
Reitzel runs Reitzel Bros., Ltd. with his brother Dave in Edon, Ohio.
Reitzel Bros. sells used tractors, combines, grain trucks and farm implements. They are at Ohio 49 and Ohio 107 in Williams County.
The hard plastic Grain Grabbers are mounted on the combine auger between the flighting, and allow for more even feeding of grain, which improves overall grain flow, Reitzel said. Because the Grain Grabber allows the reel to be run higher, there is also less shattering, he said.
One Grain Grabber is placed between each flighting, and are staggered around the auger, Reitzel said. Grain Grabbers are sold individually, or in a kit. Each grabber kit includes grabbers, drill bit and self-tapping bolts.
Grain Grabbers come in red, green and white.
A 30-foot auger would need 10 Grain Grabbers, he said. A 25-foot auger would need eight, and a 20-foot auger would need six.
Reitzel gave up on his idea, in part, because John Deere came out with retractable fingers on grain heads, which were very expensive, he said.
“Today, you can pay about $3,500 for a full-finger 30-foot model,” he said. “For $250, you can put the Grain Grabbers on.”
Reitzel Bros. sells Grain Grabbers in their store, and they are marketed nationwide by Poly Tech Industries, of Monticello, Ga.
“They’ve been sold in Australia and Argentina,” he said. “But they’re made in the U.S. China won’t get a chance to make them.”
Grain Grabbers will work on any crop, he said.
“Everybody who looks at them wonders ‘why didn’t I think of that,’” he said.
Reitzel’s has been in business since 1969, when their father Keith formed the company, Kenny Reitzel said.
“Dad didn’t have a lot of money, so he’d have his disk and plow to get the crops planted, and then he’d sell them to buy a cultivator,” he said. “He had to do that to make ends meet. The business grew from that.”
Keith Reitzel died in 2002.
Used farm equipment is in demand because of the general state of farming, Reitzel said.
“With $5 beans and $2 corn, farmers don’t have enough money for good used equipment, let alone new,” he said. “Since the mid-1980s, a lot of dealers have gone out of business.
“Every year there are less and less units to sell because there are less and less farmers.”
It’s important to keep a big and varied inventory on hand, he said.
“We have to keep buying and selling to keep an inventory,” he said. “You can’t run a business like this as a ‘just in time’ business. We have to have the product here.
“Unlike a dealership, if someone wants something we don’t have, we can’t get it from the next dealership down the road. No one else may have the same thing in the area.”
The amount of money tied up in inventory is greater now than it used to be, Reitzel said. Well-established farms in the far northwest Ohio county seem to be weathering the ups and downs in today’s agriculture industry fairly well, he added.
“For most of them, it’s their life. If you’re 50 years old and have always farmed, where are you going to find another job?”
Reitzel Bros. has a presence on the Internet, he said.
“I think people are using the Internet to see what’s out there and to compare prices,” he said. “We’ve sold to Ireland and England. There are good people everywhere.”
Reitzel is not sure what the future holds for the company.
“The next generation in our family doesn’t seem interested,” he said. “It’s hard to know if the inventory will continue to be there as it is now. We just need to get grain prices better.”
For information on Reitzel Bros., visit their website at www.reitzels.com or e-mail email@example.com or call 419-272-2680. For more information on the Grain Grabber, contact Reitzel Bros. or visit the Poly Tech website at www.polyskid.com
This farm news was published in the May 17, 2006 issue of Farm World.