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'Cow restraints' an innovative endeavour

A WHAKATANE rural business, The Wrangler, has been described by judges in a small business competition as being on the brink of international success.

The Wrangler is simply a device that provides lame cows with a leg up.

And with lame cows limping their ways to cowsheds in ever increasing numbers up and down the country - for the simple reason there are more cows around thanks to the dairy boom - The Wrangler team has plenty of work to keep it occupied.

The Wrangler holds a cow secure and comfortable. Harnesses are raised under the cow to prevent it from sitting while its head is held in a bale. A leg can then be raised and the hoof treated for lameness.

The device has been patented and is made and marketed by Wilco and Waverley Klein-Ovink. The Klein-Ovink invention won two categories in the inaugural New Zealand Business Council-backed David Awards for what the organisers call “heroes in small business”.

Out of six finalists, The Wrangler was one of two winners in the category for the most innovative or quirkiest business. It was also the winner from three finalists in the category for the most-inspired use of marketing.

The judges said The Wrangler and eSource, the other joint winner, were real Kiwi success stories. They said The Wrangler was invented by farmers wanting to find a better way to restrain cows for easier and more effective handling.

“Simple, clever concepts make it effective and unique,” they said.

For its marketing win the judges said the Klein-Ovinks had developed a brand as unique as their product.

“The Wrangler has grown steadily through word of mouth, internet and industry-focused marketing and is now poised on the brink of international success.”

The Wrangler employs six people welding and assembling the device. It comes in four different models all made in an Awakeri machinery shed near White Pine Bush.

The Pro Wrangler was produced especially for veterinary services. The device first appeared in the 1995 Fieldays, and The Wrangler as a business has gone from strength to strength since then.

Dots on a map of New Zealand in the couple’s marketing brochure mark where the device has been sold. Not surprisingly, multiple dots appear in the traditional dairy regions such as Waikato and Taranaki, and in the new dairying regions in South Canterbury and Southland.

Mr Klein-Ovink said once one or two sales had been achieved in one area, news of The Wrangler tended to lead to more sales nearby.

The Wrangler is also a finalist in the business section of the Eastern Bay’s prestigious Triple A awards.

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