Redfield teen in the business of saving lives

Farm Forum

REDFIELD – Colin Blume runs his own business and wants to save lives. He’s also finishing his senior year at Redfield Area High School.

Blume, 18, became an entrepreneur at 15. His business, Blume Welding, produces grain cages.

The cages Blume makes, when installed into grain bins, help prevent clogging in the center sump due to grain that has crusted or clumped together.

Grain becomes unpredictable as it becomes crusted in a bin. Farmers can be quickly entrapped, which could lead to suffocation, as they try to unclog grain bins.

Blume said he hears of at least five or six accidents each year involving grain bins, and that’s why he began making grain cages.

“I saw that our farm needed something like that and then neighbors wanted some as well,” he said. “I just flew right into the business.”

According to a study completed at Purdue University, South Dakota was one of the states that had the most documented incidents of grain entrapment in 2011.

That includes incidents that were fatal and nonfatal. However, it’s unknown how many get trapped each year in grain bins because of the lack of an official reporting system.

“It keeps the farmer out of the bin and from being trapped and killed,” Blume said of his cages. “It’s cheap insurance and I think you can’t afford not to have one.”

His business took off after he sold the cages to his neighbors near Redfield and to other Spink County farmers.

“They’re the ones who gave me a chance,” he said.

He has sold more than 400 units to farmers in South Dakota, North Dakota and Minnesota.

“Everything spread through word of mouth,” he said.

The jagged edges on the cage, or sickle sections, break up the grain clumps so farmers don’t have to. Different cage sizes are available and Blume does customizations, too.

The cages were designed after he needed to find a project to do for a welding class during his sophomore year.

He learned to weld when he was 11 or 12 when he needed to fix something on the farm.

“My dad happened to be gone that day and he told me I better fix it,” he said.

When it comes to welding, Blume says a person just has to have a feel for it and develop their own methods.

Blume balances his schoolwork with his welding business, which can sometimes make for a grueling schedule.

At times, he might go straight