The NIACC John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center and the North Iowa Area SBDC are proud to announce Bruce and Connie Goddard of EZ Manufacturing as the August 2019 Entrepreneurs of the Month.
Bruce Goddard has always been an inventor. With 25 years of experience as a machinist, Bruce was always looking for ways to improve the machines and the parts he worked on. “He has a way of looking at things and seeing how they can be better,” Connie says. Bruce and Connie Goddard of EZ Manufacturing in Charles City, IA, are the inventors of the Bale Storm Processor. As with all inventors, it started with a problem… and a solution.
The Bale Storm Processor began in 2013 when the Goddards came in from working on their farm one evening and Bruce said to Connie, “We have to do something different.” For years, Bruce and Connie had been struggling with frozen net wrap for bedding livestock. It was time to find a better way. Bruce sat down and designed the first version of his new bale processor. After two years of building, testing, and revising, Bruce developed the Bale Storm Processor, the first rear-mount processor on the market. The rear-mounted processor solved several problems in one: efficiency, effectiveness, and safety. Front-mount bale processors require a large skid loader to operate, which most small to medium farm operations don’t have. Bruce had heard too many 911 calls from farmers trapped in skid loaders that had tipped over from a too heavy bale. Visibility was also poor; with a bale in front of the skid loader, you can’t see where you’re spreading the bedding. A rear-mounted processor, designed to be used with a tractor, is a safer, more efficient, and more cost-effective piece of equipment for small to medium farm operations.
Bruce built the first Bale Storm Processor himself. It only needs a 75- to 100-hp tractor to operate. The hydraulic self-loading lift allows the operator to safely load the bale while remaining in the tractor. Removing net wrap is optional and is easily accomplished. The rear-mount position allows for visibility while spreading feed or bedding. As for the traditional method of pitchfork, knife, and skid loader – as Connie says, “We’ll never go back to bedding the old way.” Bruce and Connie invented a way to save time and money while working more safely on the farm that they love.
Bruce and Connie began to explore the idea of manufacturing and marketing in 2015 when someone mentioned to them, “This could really be something. I think you need to pursue this.” They recommended Bruce and Connie contact the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center at NIACC. Bruce and Connie had been using their invention for a few years and the seed was now planted. Connie says, “We’d been using the Bale Storm processor for a few years and suddenly the seed was planted to come to NIACC and we thought… yeah, we could do this. It’s made a big difference for us. We could share this and make a difference for other farmers.”
Bruce and Connie enrolled in Launch and Grow Your Business, a ten week course that guides entrepreneurs through the essentials of starting a business, from business plan to customer discovery. Bruce was voted Most Likely to Succeed by their classmates. Bruce and Connie also completed the Start-Up Factory program offered by Iowa State University, an intensive 26 week course that connected them with business experts and mentors. Connie says, “We gained a lot of insight from these programs. The customer discovery process was amazing. We talked to so many people and learned so many things.”
Bruce and Connie worked with the North Iowa Area SBDC and NIACC Pappajohn Center, as well. “Brook Boehmler [NIA SBDC Regional Director] has been overwhelmingly helpful to us,” Connie said. “If we call him or email him, he’s on it.” Working with the Goddards, Brook Boehmler says, “has been very exciting. Bruce and Connie are passionate about what they do and about sharing this invention to help other farmers. Over the last few years, they’ve worked tirelessly to bring their dream to a reality.”
Good news for the Bale Storm Processor continues to spread. Bruce was named a finalist for the Innovation Award at the October 2018 NIACC Pappajohn Center Entrepreneur Gala. Wallaces Farmer featured the Bale Storm Processor in a profile published in November 2018. In the summer of 2019, Bruce and Connie signed a licensing agreement with Kelly Ryan Equipment to manufacture and distribute the Bale Storm Processor. As dedicated entrepreneurs, however, Bruce and Connie aren’t taking a break. They’re always looking to the future, devising new ways to improve their equipment, and focusing on their core values: creating innovative, safe, efficient, and functional ways to help their fellow farmers.
To learn more about the Bale Storm Processor, visit their website at www.balestorm.com.
Every month, the Pappajohn Center recognizes the North Iowa entrepreneurs who make our region a success. To self-nominate or nominate a business for Entrepreneur of the Month, click here.