Ben Voss and Ryan Sommerfeld are co-founders of Aerow Manufacturing Ltd. and make a great team. After careful planning in early 2020, they decided to launch a start-up company and jointly manage it. Like most good ideas, the Aerow was an inspiration of a successful farmer in North-West Saskatchewan where excess rain is often the problem. In 2018, Ryan Sommerfeld, the inventor of The Aerow, was very frustrated with damp conditions during haying season. Hay rakes and modified round baler pickups were just too slow or causing too much crop damage. He wanted to lift his hay swaths without damaging or removing the valuable leaves from the stems. He also wanted a machine that could stand up to tough conditions and get the job done quickly. With the help of a local machine shop he built his first prototype. The first machine was a success and proved that the concept worked.
In the fall of 2019 Ryan contacted his neighbor, Ben Voss, also a farmer but more well known as an Agricultural Engineer and entrepreneur in the ag machinery industry. Together they designed and built a more advanced prototype in 2020 and tested it thoroughly in the tough spring harvest conditions.
After very successful results and strong local interest, Ryan and Ben formed Aerow Manufacturing Ltd. to offer their product to the market.
Ben brings his engineering experience, farming background, manufacturing background, supply chain contacts, financial expertise, agricultural machinery marketing expertise and extensive network to the company. Together with Ryan’s creativity, ag-community network, strong knowledge of the industry and inventiveness, they have created a very cool idea that they are confident will provide strong value for growers around the world.
Ben and Ryan have designed the Aerow together. In a machine shop at the Voss farm, Ryan and Ben fabricated the first prototype from pieces they borrowed from older farm implements, like retired swathers. They are both skilled welders and Ben has acquired a lot of machining and other prototyping skills over the years. Ben has Computer Aided Design (CAD) and advanced manufacturing experience and from that they were able to rapid prototype many of the advanced components in the Aerow, such as the tube-laser parts for the rotor. Once testing was completed, Ben went to work using Solidworks to design the Aerow for manufacturing using his extensive experience from farm equipment design and R&D.
In the coming months, Ben and Ryan will continue to co-manage the company together with the assistance of their family and friends. We expect to ramp up quickly and as we grow, we will look to serve our customers well.
Ben is one of Saskatchewan’s most recognized entrepreneurs. He is currently a professional farmer, engineer and executive, involved in several private companies located in Western Canada and is co-founder and CEO of Aerow Manufacturing Ltd. Ben is a graduate of Agricultural and Bioresource Engineering from the University of Saskatchewan (’99) and the Directors Education Program from ICD-Rotman (’15). He also has a long history of entrepreneurial know-how with over 20 years of experience in owning and operating businesses in Saskatchewan. He started his first company right out of University and has been able to gain a lot of experience owning and running business. He has served on many boards of directors, but currently serves on the board of STARS Air Ambulance, one of the most important life saving services for rural western Canada.
Ben and his family live in both Saskatoon and their farm near Spiritwood, Sk. They own and operate a regenerative farm growing a wide range from crops such as wheat, winter wheat, fall rye, canola, flax, yellow peas, green peas, faba beans, oats, barley and forages.
Ryan is a successful purebred cattle producer and owns and operates RPS Gelbvieh, together with his wife Michelle and Ray and Pauline Sommerfeld. Ryan has served on several producer boards including the Saskatchewan Cattleman’s Association, Saskatchewan Forage Council, Saskatchewan Forage Network, Western Beef Development Centre Research Advisory Committee and currently sits on the Canadian Gelbvieh Association’s board of directors. He has always had a keen interest in research and sat as chair of the SCAs research committee. During this time he was instrumental in the early stages of the process of getting funding to build the new Saskatchewan Livestock and Forage Center of Excellence at the University of Saskatchewan. He is well known and often gets called upon to share his knowledge of forages and haying, speaking at several producer sessions put on by the Ministry of Agriculture. Ryan grew up in the cattle business but has always been inventive and keen to solve problems that are challenges in his operation. Ryan typically puts up 1000 acres of hay a year, usually in tough drying conditions in north central Saskatchewan. He developed the first Aerow prototype because of the issues he was facing on his farm and quickly realized that it could help a lot of other producers with their haying operations. As the prototype evolved, he realized that it had potential to work very well in swathed cereal crops as well. Ryan and Michelle live near Medstead, SK.