CHAD SMITH/TRI-COUNTY RECORD
The Oggun is the newest entrant into the farm tractor market. The model is designed for small farmers as a more affordable alternative, and it’s manufactured with an open-source model, which means the work can be done with parts available at many local shops, thereby keeping costs down for farmers that own the tractor. The tractor was on display last week at Featherstone Farms in Rushford.
CHAD SMITH/TRI-COUNTY RECORD The Oggun is the newest entrant into the farm tractor market. The model is designed for small farmers as a more affordable alternative, and it’s manufactured with an open-source model, which means the work can be done with parts available at many local shops, thereby keeping costs down for farmers that own the tractor. The tractor was on display last week at Featherstone Farms in Rushford.
It’s called the Oggun (Oh-goon), and it’s a different take on the farm tractor than many folks in agriculture may be used to. Southeast Minnesota residents got their first look at the new tractor during a showcase event at Featherstone Farms of Rushford on Wednesday, April 5.

The tractor was specifically designed for smaller farms, but that’s not what makes it unique. It’s unique in its design, its price and the way it’s adaptable to newer technologies.

The tractor is unique because it’s built with an open-source manufacturing design and parts a person could find at a local tractor supply company.

The idea was with Cuba in mind

The idea for the tractor first began when former IBM engineers and longtime business partners Horace Clemmons and Saul Berenthal (a Cuban-American) came together to form the Alabama-based Cleber, LLC.

One day, Berenthal told Clemmons he wanted to do business back in his native country of Cuba. The two talked over a lot of options, including software, but decided to go in a different direction.

“They started looking at things going on in the country,” said Locky Catron, a partner in Cleber, while in Rushford. “I saw that the government had given land back to about 300,000 farmers, but there were only 60,000 tractors on the island.”

The tractors were all roughly 30 years old and of Russian design. Horace decided in June of 2015 that he and Saul were going to build tractors for Cuba.

They needed to build something simple and easily fixed, because Cuban farmers were used to fixing everything themselves. They also needed to build something that was affordable. Mass production of tractors began in November of 2016.

Americans show interest too

“That’s why they went to the open-source manufacturing model, using all off-the-shelf parts,” Catron said. They designed the tractor based on an Allis-Chalmers G.

“After doing all the work to put it together, the company realized business probably wasn’t going to happen in Cuba until the embargo is lifted.”

Once American farmers got wind of what Cleber was doing, they showed a lot of interest in the product as well. The business then set up shop in Paint Rock, Ala., and began showing it to interested American farmers.

“I learned a valuable lesson from the Cuban farmers, because they helped us understand how we can better serve farmers across the globe,” Clemmons said. “$10,000 is still a lot of money to small farmers across the globe, so we have to create a business model where the price goes down every year.”

Cleber, LLC, told customers around the globe, including in Ethiopia, Peru, Chile, Brazil and Australia that they would give them the design of the tractor, which most companies don’t do.

They agreed to ship parts that their customers couldn’t make in their countries with the idea that eventually the countries would take over the entire manufacturing process.

“We have offered a business proposition to our customers that says, ‘Put me out of business,’” Clemmons explained. “That’s about the only way we’re going to get 40 to 50 percent of the world’s smallest farmers equipped to do their work.”

People ask him how they expect to make money? His answer was a simple one.

“It’s called trust,” he said. “It’s called value-added. How hard would it be to use this technology and turn it into a skid steer? It’s got the engine, it’s got the hydraulics; so I’d take the tires off and put tracks on and put a bucket on the front.”

He said they designed components to put together, and they want to let people be creative in how they use those components.

The advantages of the concept

“Equipment (like tractors) is built using proprietary systems,” Catron said. “It’s unique components for a unique piece of equipment. We’re building a tractor that is open-source; we’re building it using architectures, and we’re building it in the same way that technology is currently built today.”

Clemmons said the technology is simple, unique and practical, and it’s what small farmers need. Using off-the-shelf parts to build their tractors improves the local economies. The replacement parts can be found at local businesses like ag supply stores or auto parts stores.

“The parts don’t come painted certain colors with patents on them, but instead they come out of the local economy,” Clemmons said.

“All of that lowers the price over time, because of the larger volume we get by using readily available components. Those components lower the price for everyone over time.”

Some of the specific tractor specs include a 19-horsepower Honda gas engine. The tractor length is just over 10 feet long and the weight is 1,700 pounds.

The brakes and the steering are hydraulic with an independent hydraulic drive. There’s also a unique zero-turn capability that comes with this tractor. It has a three-point hitch for implements. There’s also an optional PTO capability as well.

“It’s more than a tractor, it’s a different way of thinking,” Clemmons added. More information is available at www.thinkoggun.com.