An Alabama company is planning to offer a basic farm tractor that sells for $10,000. Compare that to the cost of tractors from recognized manufacturers. According to CostOwl.com, mid-size tractors with 30 to 75 hp usually cost anywhere from $25,000 to $50,000. Larger tractors with about 100 hp, 4-wheel drive and a cab tend to run $50,000 to $75,000. Tractors with 100 to 150 hp usually cost anywhere from $75,000 to $150,000. The larger models with air conditioned cabs, wifi, and GPS guidance systems can cost cost $300,000 or more.
CleBer LLC is a start-up company located in the town of Fyffe in northern Alabama. It was founded by Horace Clemons and Saul Berenthal, neither of whom has any manufacturing experience. In fact, both have a background in computers and software. Bernethal is a native of Cuba and grew up watching his fellow countrymen trying to wrest a living from the land. Today in Cuba, much of the farming is still done by hand.
The pair came up with the idea to design and build a simple, inexpensive tractor that would be affordable for small farmers both in the US and in other countries. Berenthal dreams of making them available in his native Cuba. They call their creation the Oggun and the concept is simplicity itself. In an age where traditional manufacturers prohibit their customers from fixing their tractors themselves, Clemons and Berenthal deliberately designed their machine to be simple to work on. Its sales brochure proclaims that it can be maintained “in the field with nothing more than a wrench.”
Rather than use a proprietary engine that would use expensive parts, the pair decided to offer customers a choice of a 19 horsepower gasoline engine sourced from Honda or diesel engine from Kohler with similar power. The machine itself weighs a mere 1,500 lbs and features hydraulic brakes. The gas model will sell for $10,000 while its diesel cousin will retail for $13,000.
The original idea was to offer the Oggun as a knockdown kit that would be assembled at the final destination. The company worked for over a year with Liberty Steel Manufacturing, also located in Fyffe, to create the components for the tractor. But now the decision has been made to build the tractor at a factory next door to Liberty Steel. The spiritual ancestor of the Oggun is the Allis Chalmers G, a basic low cost tractor built in nearby Gadsen, Alabama 60 years ago. It also was specifically designed for the small farmer.
At a recent celebration to mark the beginning of production, representatives from Senegal and Peru were on hand. Javier Matos, a businessman from Miami, said he would like to make the Oggun available in Peru. He knows others who would be interested in Chile and other South American companies. “It’s beautiful,” he said. “I wish I had 10,000 right now. I think it has a lot of potential.”
Kirk Iversen, an agronomist with Auburn University, said the most exciting aspect of the product will be the different uses owners will find for the tractor. He recalled his experiences in the Peace Corps. “In Africa, they would use tractors to grind maize and several other things,” he said. “You can’t even imagine some of the things they’d be able to do with something like this.”
Source and photo credit: Alabama Today