Tough as Steel

Published in the January 2014 Issue Published online: Jan 17, 2014
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Helping growers make their livelihood safer is the reason behind Safe-T-Pull.

Its name is well known in the agriculture industry. Safe-T-Pull is an innovative hitch system and towing accessory that makes pulling stuck vehicles and equipment through tough conditions easy and safe.

John Peterka, Western sales representative for Safe-T-Pull, said the idea came about in 1991 when a fatal accident in a sugarbeet field occurred when a chain broke and killed the tractor operator.

This led Myron Kemnitz of Cavalier, N.D., to work with Bernie Kringstad, the current patent holder and owner of Kringstad Ironworks Inc. in Park River, N.D., on an iron pulling device that didn’t require either the truck or tractor operator to get out of his vehicle to hook and unhook while pulling trucks. The first Safe-T-Pull was used in Kemnitz beet fields that fall in harvest with great success.

“They were inspired to develop a better alternative to pulling stuck trucks in beet and potato fields,” Peterka said.

The Safe-T-Pull came to be commercially produced in 1993, replacing numerous tow ropes, chains and cables and increasing safety on many farms during beet harvest. It has been tested up to 200,000-loads and is adaptable to most tractors.

The Safe-T-Pull system consists of a truck hitch that fastens on your truck’s existing tow hook mounts, giving you a centralized loop to pull from and a hydraulically operated tow bar that mounts to the drawbar of your tractor, pay loader or bulldozer. The entire system is completely operable from the comfort of your cab. There’s no need top get out to hook up. Drivers an operators can even unhook on the go.

Each truck hitch is designed specifically for the truck’s make and model. The hitch pulls evenly from both frame rails—greatly reducing risk of frame or radiator damage.

The Safe-T-Pull comes in several models based on the operating conditions. Safe-T-Pull Original is the original design that utilizes springs and cables to self-center the pulling arm, making hook up simple. It also includes a unique shock absorbing design to cushion the pull, unlike dangerous chains and tow ropes.

Safe-T-Pull Pro still has the shock absorbing design but eliminates the use of springs and cables for centering. It also folds up, making maneuvering uneven ground easier holding the pulling arm rigid. It also features a pressure compensated valve that regulates the hydraulic fluid flow to the lift cylinder so the device rises at a steady, controllable speed.

The Safe-T-Pull HD (heavy duty) self-contained hydraulic system works on any industrial vehicle, whether it has hydraulics or not. It’s operated by wireless remote from the cab. It also features a hydraulic safety lock holding the pulling upright for storage.


Growing Pains/Expanding…

Safe-T-Pull is currently located in Hoople, N.D., and has been part of Kringstad Ironworks, a family-owned and operated company that builds innovative products and equipment for agriculture, the oil and gas industry and commercial construction projects.

In May 2013, Safe-T-Pull moved out of the Kringstad Ironworks facility in Park River, N.D. Facing space and production limitation, the product line moved to a 6,000 square foot facility in Hoople.

According to Alek Kringstad, Safe-T-Pull’s production manager, this transition allowed additional focus and production capability—benefits that were clearly evident through the 2013 harvest.

With rapid growth, the new company quickly exceeded its production capacity in Hoople.

“We’re in the process of moving into a new production facility in park River,” Alek said. “We’ll move into the building in February and get cranked up for this year’s harvest.”

The new space will be a 17,000-square-foot assemble and distribution facility adjacent to Kringstad Ironworks. It will include a new paint and finishing booth and 9,000 square feet of warehouse space.


Branching Out

The company operates on a dealer network that has grown significantly in recent months. It now has 65 dealerships across the United States and Canada, and discussions are under way to expand into the Untied Kingdom and Russia around the middle of 2014.

“The business really hasn’t been marketed outside of the Red River Valley until May of 2013,” said Jacob Kringstad, general manager. The Red River Valley covers areas of North Dakota, Minnesota and Manitoba, Canada.

“We are getting a very good response from everywhere we go with it,” Jacob said. “We didn’t think onions would work for us, because they don’t harvest onions when it’s wet. But in Oregon, Washington and Idaho, it’s all sandy, hilly soil. Semis are spinning out and getting stuck. It’s the same if it would be getting wet. We’re finding new markets all the time.

“We experienced significant growth in Colorado; they had so much moisture with the flooding and rain. We helped a lot of growers get their crops off out there this year.”


More Than Towing

“From a downtime standpoint, we’re saving them a lot of time in fields,” Peterka said. “Come fall everybody wants to get their crop off.”

Safe-T-Pull saves time by eliminating the need to climb in and out of equipment cabs and trucks. Growers can complete harvesting two to three days faster by gaining 10 loads per day.

The product also boasts a significant safety advantage for both personnel and equipment. It minimizes exposure to dangerous pulling situations, where chains and cables can break, as well as damage sustained to transmissions or vehicle frames. Injury prevention is another benefit. First by eliminating the chains and cables, and secondly eliminating potential falls associated with muddy conditions.

“Everyone in the Red River Valley has Safe-T-Pull hitches on their trucks and pullers on their tractors when beet harvest comes around,” Peterka said. “And we’re in Michigan, and we’re getting into Wisconsin with potatoes. We’re changing the way people operate.”

“It’s not a want but a need to get your harvest for sugarbeets and potatoes,” said Kirk Brandvold, Eastern sales representative for Safe-T-Pro. “It’s just the way it’s done now. It’s not a luxury—it’s a need to harvest successfully. We’re trying to make that the standard across the country.”



Safe-T-Pull products give growers a long life.

A 20-year-old Safe-T-Pull Original model still bearing its No. 4 line number was brought in last year to exchange for a Pro model. With basic maintenance, Jacob said “They last forever.”