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And the Youth Shall Lead Us

Published: May 01, 2024 by Krissy Ohnstad

Young Inventor Aims to Prevent Grain Entrapment

Mason Gahler doesn’t live on a farm. Still, living in a farming community with two sets of farming grandparents, agriculture is part of his DNA.

A senior at Healy High School in Pierz, Minnesota, Mason was one of the youngest attendees at GEAPS Exchange earlier this year. He wasn’t there to kick tires or pick up free swag, though he did enjoy both. Mason was there on business, business first inspired by the movie “Silo.”

When Mason was in seventh grade, his ag teacher, Mrs. Tax, showed the movie many GEAPS members have seen at chapter events. “Silo,” released in 2019, is a fictional account of something that happens all too often on farms and in the grain industry.

Until he watched the movie which shows a teenage boy becoming a victim of grain entrapment, grain bins were the things he wasn’t allowed to enter on his grandparent’s farm, the things he saw every day in his community.

This movie motivated Mason, who is described by his family as a tinkerer and one who likes to putz. While he’s only 18, Mason has already been working for a neighborhood diesel mechanic for three years. He seems to be fascinated with using his skills to make things work.

It started with a notebook, drawing ideas and diagrams. Mason kept his ideas quiet at first, then told his parents, Chet and Stacy Gahler, and his teacher about what he was hoping to do, keep people safe from grain entrapments. With the support of his family and his teacher, Mason made his first model and presented the Grain Gyre at school when he was in eleventh grade.

“It’s a series of augers that mount to the sidewall of the bin and draw grain up to the top center of the bin” he explained. “It breaks up the clumps, frees grain, just keeps it moving and when you’re unloading the grain bin, it gets rid of the cone, just keeps it all level.”

Mason went to Exchange with his grandparents Sheryl and Joe Williams. The couple, who are southern Minnesota farmers, are two of Mason’s biggest fans. They know people who have been hurt and killed in grain bins and they’re hopeful their grandson can help prevent future tragedies.

“It makes it safer by agitating it when it’s in storage, but then also when the bin is being unloaded, it’s actually drawing the corn up from the outer parts of the grain bin to the center and dumping it into the center, so you don’t get the sidewall collapse either,” Joe added.

The model, made out of a 55-gallon barrel, started it all.

Fast forward, Mason is the inventor and the patent holder for the Grain Gyre and Gahler Innovations, LLC. (Thankfully, Mason’s sixth grade teacher has a daughter who became a patent attorney.) Mason’s patent attorney helped him connect to a business attorney.

When that 55-gallon barrel wasn’t cutting it as a model, Grandpa Joe wanted to help his grandson’s dream grow. Joe, Chet, Mason and his brother Gauge emptied the corn from the 1,200 bushel bin and took it apart. Mason, Chet and Gauge then hauled it nearly 200 miles back home across the state.

The Grain Gyre has drawn a lot of attention, well beyond Mason’s supportive family.

The local newspaper, Morrison County Record, ran a story on Mason and his invention and things started taking off. He was contacted by media outlets and associated companies. Mason heard from folks in Iowa, Texas, South Dakota and beyond asking about it. A couple of those companies are longtime exhibitors at GEAPS Exchange and encouraged Mason to come to Kansas City.

It was an easy invitation to accept.

Mason and his grandparents took the journey to Kansas City and spent all day Sunday walking the Expo floor. Mason carried photos of the Grain Gyre around the expo floor so he could ask people who work in the grain business what they thought. He listened to concerns and left feeling inspired about necessary tweaks to his design. Mason also became a GEAPS member when visiting the GEAPS booth.

At the Expo, he was able to visit Dr. Carol Jones, Bruce Hendrix and the team at the Grain Entrapment Rescue Demo. They took the time to suit him up in PPE and take him to the top of the trailer so he could better see what’s involved in a rescue.

“He’s a very innovative young man,” Jones said. “His testing results and experiences would be interesting, particularly in larger bins. Hopefully he can invest in or work with someone to do some intensive, third-party testing.”

Hendrix lauded a young man working to find solutions to a problem he sees too often in his work.

“In my eyes, his thinking outside the box is great,” Hendrix said. “I would be interested in seeing some of the testing to see what percentage of the bin it will turn over, or will it require several of the pieces for a larger bin?”

Speaking to us a month after Exchange, it is clear Mason’s grandma is glad she made the trip.

“As his grandparents, we are proud of his Grain Gyre invention, hoping in the future it will save many lives,” she said.” “God knew what he was doing the whole time.”

Mason remains in contact with a few companies he met with at Exchange. Ultimately, Mason hopes to find a company willing to work to help him develop his invention. This fall, he plans to enroll in the Diesel Tech program at Central Lakes College in Staples, Minnesota. After that, he wants to take business management classes in Brainerd, Minnesota.

While he has college plans, Mason said there is a lot to learn at GEAPS Exchange.

“GEAPS Exchange was very interesting to me,” Mason said. “I really liked to see all the new innovations on display. I am definitely going to try to make it down next year again.”

That notebook he has been scribbling in since seventh grade? It is full of ideas. While he’s mum on what creations are to come, Mason named his company Gahler Innovations instead of Grain Gyre for a reason. He’s not done inventing yet. Not by a long shot.


Jessica Waltzer
Communications Manager