Inducted into the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame
About the Founder
Charles P. Balmer was born October 14th, 1930 in Bussy Sur Moudon, Switzerland. He was raised on the family dairy farm and received a diploma in Agriculture from Ecole Cantonale D'Agriculture in 1951.
With French as his first language he found himself drawn to the predominantly French speaking community of St. Eustache, Manitoba where he settled for a brief time. A year later he moved to Elie where he remained since 1954.
Charlie was then hired as an ag-mechanic at Elie Motors, the local J.I. Case Dealer. While working there, he obtained a pilot license in 1961 and went on to become one of Manitoba's pioneer crop dusters applying chemicals for local farmers as a sideline to his mechanic's job. This led to the formation of Elie Air Spray, a custom ground and aerial application company that serviced the Elie area for nearly 20 years.
The Monsanto Company approached Charlie in 1976 to develop a metering system for granular Avadex to use in aerial applications but instead designed a ground applicator that was to become the Valmar Airflo.
By 1980 Charlie was so busy with his granular applicator line he had to give up his position as a mechanic with Elie Motors and the custom application business. Now he was heading up his own company, Valmar Airflo Incorporated.
Throughout the next two decades Charlie's designs would both directly and indirectly affect the agriculture industry. These contributions continue to influence today's trends and will be important for years to come. The Valmar Airflo Granular Applicator, Lor*al and AgChem Air Spreader, AirMax boom spreaders and the Willmar Air Ride SP Sprayer are all highly visible products used throughout progressive agriculture areas.
The Valmar applicator paved the way with its precise metering rates and product placement for granular herbicides that have been used extensively on the Canadian prairies and many regions of the US. These applicators are also widely used for fertilizer, seed, forage preservatives, inoculants and insecticides.
The AirMax and Air Spreader from Lor*al and AgChem are still the choice of custom applicators for their big flotation rigs. Literally millions of acres are covered each year with these spreaders. These machines were from their conception so well designed that little has changed on them to this day.
Charlie designed the Willmar AirRide Sprayer in the late 80's and distribution by Willmar began in 1990. This was the first high capacity, high clearance self propelled sprayer designed and built in North America with all the features the custom applicator needed. These self-propelled sprayers provided the basis for the large sprayers on the market today, most of which contain some of the technology introduced by Charlie's prototypes and the AirRide Sprayer.
If it weren't for his family and his love of flying you would literally find Charlie at the shop cutting steel, drawing or reading every single day. Even at 76 years of age, only the disease that finally claimed his life was able to slow him down.
Charlie lost his battle with cancer September 14, 2006.