Harold Fratzke - 1994 Inductee
(1929 - ) Fratzke is a farmer and entrepreneur whose many inventions are designed primarily for use in the agricultural community, but also include general use tools, truck accessories, and sports and recreation products. He is a full-time farmer, so it is not surprising that many of his inventions offer solutions to everyday problems. Every farmer has faced the frustration of dirty hydraulic ports on tractors. Fratzke invented a mechanism with a spring-loaded cover that enclosed the port, preventing contamination, called Hydra Covers. The invention was so popular that every tractor built today has such covers. The Hydra Covers led to the Hydra Levers, a device used to open hydraulic ports to accept tips. His Roto-Chopper attaches to a combine and shreds stalks as the farmer combines and harvests the crop. His Ramp-Gate is an invention that has the "why didn’t someone think of that sooner" characteristic. It is a fold-out ramp that replaces the pick-up end-gate, allowing an ATV (all-terrain vehicle) or garden tractor to be driven up the ramps and into the bed of the pickup. One of his seemingly simple and very low cost inventions is a steel rod that hooks the hydraulic coupler on a 3-point hitch, releases it and simultaneously relieves the remaining pressure on the hose. This can be done from the safety and convenience of the operator’s seat. The unit sold for the very low price of seven dollars. The price is so low that tractor manufacturers do not want to compete with him and merely recommend his tool instead. He has sold more than 500,000 of them. Many of his inventions are being manufactured in four communities in Southwestern Minnesota, by existing manufacturing and marketing companies, improving the economic base for those communities. In a world where less than two percent of all inventions are manufactured and marketed successfully, he has a success ratio of over 50 percent. He has 27 or more economically significant inventions.
NOTE: These biographies have been compiled from information accompanying the nomination form submitted to the Minnesota Inventors Hall of Fame, information available on the Internet and from a variety of other sources.