Current Progressive Dairy digital edition
Advertisement

Agricultural design engineer Wayne Raiche retires

PD Emeritus Publisher Leon Leavitt Published on 26 April 2011

0711pd_leavitt_1

Loewen Welding and Manufacturing Ltd. recently announced the retirement of Wayne Raiche, an engineer-designer turned salesman, effective May l.

advertisement

advertisement

In the 1970s, Raiche found his first employment in engineering in steel fabrication. A friend who owned a welding supply business encouraged Wayne to meet Ernie Loewen, owner of Loewen Welding in Matsqui, British Columbia, Canada.

Raiche recalls, “Eventually I met Ernie, and we struck up a conversation that lasted about five hours one night. We clicked off real good together. Ernie invited me to come and work for him for awhile and see how I liked it.”

Raiche began working for Loewen at first just during the morning shift, and this continued for several months. Then in 1977, Raiche asked Loewen, “What do you think? Would you like me to come here full-time?” Loewen responded with a positive, “Yes.”

Shortly after hiring him, Loewen saw potential in Raiche, and put him in charge of the production crew. Soon thereafter he was involved in sales and began promoting the company’s products to local farmers while still spending time working in the shop.

In the late ’70s, the company started building feeder-mixers in addition to specialty one-of-a-kind items. Because of his engineering background and work experience, Wayne would draw up the designs. He says he enjoyed these opportunities because they were a real challenge.

advertisement

He recalls, “We did a lot of these one-off jobs, and some of them were big projects, like for feed companies. We continued building feed mixers, bale-choppers, conveyors and manure-handling equipment.

Any opportunity that came forward, we would jump on it, and this continued for the next 10 years.”

In the early ’80s, Loewen invited Raiche to increase his involvement in the business through profit-sharing, which eventually led to him buying shares and becoming a full partner in the business.

However, Raiche says the defining moment in his career at Loewen came a decade later when he met Clair Yardley, a new dealer in Idaho, which led to the development of the Honey-Vac® in 1996.

Wayne relates, “I sold Clair some truck-mounted feeder-mixers, and one of them went to John Busman in Idaho. While I was at John’s place ... there was this fellow who was pulling this great big rubber tire with a tractor, and he was pulling the manure out into the corral and out to the patio area. It was a real mess.

“I remember Clair said, ‘Wouldn’t it be something if you could take one of your vacuum tanks (we had already built thousands of big vacuum manure tanks) and do something to scrape the manure right up from there?’

advertisement

Well, the light bulb [went] on, and I went back to the shop and took a used piece of equipment and designed a special tank, put it together and went back to John Busman’s place. John bought it, and from there it just went uphill.

That is when the Honey-Vac was introduced. And after that the word spread to California, Texas, and eventually throughout the U.S. and to international markets.”

Loewen built several hundred of the Honey-Vacs in a 15-year period without ever patenting the idea. Eventually other companies replicated the manure vacuum’s design, even patenting it themselves.

However, the name Honey-Vac® remains a registered trademark owned by Loewen and is recognized worldwide. It is also now a commonplace definition for the new category of equipment that Raiche designed with help from the field test results completed by Yardley.

Raiche says of his career, “I like what I do. I like interacting with the farmers and with the dealers. They are the salt of the earth ... I’m really in my element when I’m dealing with the people and in international sales.

Beyond that, I really enjoy designing equipment.”

Loewen’s three remaining family partners will retain Raiche for-hire as a consultant to serve the company’s U.S. and international clients. PD

Courtesy photo from Wayne Raiche.

LATEST BLOG

LATEST NEWS