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A Mercer County man has earned two awards at the American Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting in Atlanta.
Rory Frick of Aledo took home the “most innovative” and “most widely usable” awards at the Farmer Idea Exchange competition at AFBF’s 92nd annual meeting for a new kind of multi-functional ladder. Each award comes with a $500 prize.
Frick’s ladder contains platform steps that remain parallel to the ground, regardless of the angle of the ladder. When unfolded at a 45-degree pitch, the ladder resembles a staircase. When in the storage position, folded and locked, the ladder is only 2 inches thick and can be used as a ramp. Wheels can be added to convert the ladder into a mechanic’s creeper, and push bars can be added to make it a utility cart.
Frick works at General Grind and Machine, which manufactures shafts and other parts for Case-IH, Deere and Caterpillar. He also assists his father, brother and a neighbor in their farming operations. Frick was loading and unloading a flatbed truck when the need for an easier, safer way to do the task surfaced, and his Farmer Idea Exchange idea dawned more than two years ago.
“There’s been a lot of interest in the product,” said Frick. “It’s been quite an experience, very rewarding. I’ve met a lot of people and made a lot of contacts,” he added.
Frick and his son welded the prototype in their garage, using about $200 in materials. Nelson added touches needed to ensure the ladder complied with U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards.
Frick has applied for a patent, and hopes to offer the ladder commercially by mid-year.