Marcel Kringe’s background in Ag Engineering and Agronomy means he is always thinking about agriculture and solving the challenges ahead. While working as an Agronomist around the world, Marcel kept seeing large amounts of wasted grain; grain that farmers worked so hard to grow. But this waste wasn’t from poor storage or excess moisture, it was from the very equipment meant to capture it: the combine. Marcel, a German-born farmer, relocated to Canada and introduced the Bushel Plus Harvest Loss System to help farmers assess grain loss more safely and accurately during harvest.
FROM FARM BOY TO SERIAL-ENTREPRENEUR
Born to Farm Kringe, Marcel grew up on a family farm in the mountains of Germany. He describes the enterprise as “10 acres, five cows, 10 chickens and a goat.” Four generations lived together and worked the farm, which provided supplemental income, food, and an education. “I stood beside my great-grandfather, grandfather, and father and learned a lot,” Kringe said. “They could fix anything, and they worked hard. Growing up like that, you gain a different perspective on life.” Kringe knew from childhood he wanted to own or work on a farm, and he knew the family operation could never generate enough income to be his life’s work. He pursued an education in agriculture engineering and agronomy in a program that combined classroom theory with the American equivalent of a series of internships. Pursuing his dream, Kringe found a way to satisfy both his love for farming and his interest in seeing the world. His first internship in 2009 took him to Canada for harvest. “That was a 3,000-acre farm, and I thought, ‘This is it; I’ve seen it all,’” he said. “It was what I had dreamed of.” Until … “I went back to university and saw a job posting for a farm in Russia,” he said. “They were trying to build an 80,000- acre farm in three years. They were looking for combine drivers and supervisors for harvest and seeding. I thought, ‘Right on, this is right up my alley.’ Adventure. A different language. It was awesome.” Kringe spent two summers in Russia, another fall in Canada, and three weeks in Brazil working on farms while also completing his university work.
After Kringe earned his degree, he settled in Canada with “nothing but a bag of clothes” and an opportunity to “learn English on the go.” He worked on various farms and eventually was hired by Cargill to sell seed and serve as an agronomy consultant to farmers. Meanwhile, as a hobby, he and his team worked on designing a drop tray that would measure waste from a combine more safely. They developed a prototype, which Kringe gave to farmers to try. One of them called him after he had used the prototype for a week. “He said, ‘Hey, we did the math on this, and it saved us $60,000 to $70,000 Canadian,’” Kringe remembers. Things started to happen quickly then. Kringe refined the prototype and produced enough to meet the demand generated through farmer recommendations. He worked for Cargill by day and Bushel Plus at night. Kringe ended up leaving Cargill to focus full-time on Bushel Plus. At that time his goal was to sell 120 pieces of equipment; sales exceeded that goal by many hundreds.