An invitation to enter his invention in the online National Fieldays Innovation Awards has been a welcome boost for Blair Howard, of Paihia.
He was intending to demonstrate his product at the National Fieldays Innovations Pavilion at Mystery Creek, near Hamilton, this year.
The event, which is a huge drawcard for farmers and landowners, would have been an opportunity to put the product in front of his target market and allow them to see it in operation.
"There is nothing quite like seeing a product in front of you and buying with emotion. However, it was not to be this year and we've had to box on regardless,'' he said.
Howard said he was delighted to be invited to enter his Greenriggers product in the online Fieldays Innovation Awards.
"It was a real honour to be asked, and quite humbling when you see some of the other innovative products that were entered.''
Howard was interviewed by a panel of four judges via video link, and the judging process took several hours.
The winners were announced on Friday last week, and while Greenriggers did not pick up the top prize, Howard is hoping the exposure of his product online will help with his marketing work.
He has also had interest in his product from a major international company.
Taking his idea for the Greenriggers electric fence outrigger through to a finished product has been quite a journey. Throw in the Covid-19 pandemic and the challenges are multiplied.
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Greenriggers are his answer to a perennial problem for landowners trying to keep animals where they should be and preventing damage to fences.
Greenriggers hold the electric wire out off the main fence. The main Greenrigger unit clips securely on to most wire fences, while a new stainless steel rail attachment allows the units to be attached to post and rail fences without fuss.
The spiral spring-like rail attachment invention allows a hole at either end for the screw to be easily attached to the rail and also allows Greenriggers to be easily repositioned at any time in the future.
Howard said he had had a great response from farmers and horse owners and had already sold 40,000 units.
"The best thing is I can look people straight in the eye and say I've had zero negative feedback. I'm really proud of that.''
He said the Greenriggers units have been constructed of quality UV-resistant poly plastics.
"They are New Zealand made, which is a winning factor,'' he said.
Designing and refining the units had taken hours and many slight adjustments until he was satisfied.
"We're talking a quarter of a millimetre and every time it was costing several thousand dollars to alter the injection mould for the plastic units,'' he said.
"It took about three years from concept to getting it how I wanted it.''
Howard said animals could cause a lot of damage to fences as well as hurting themselves.
"Horse owners know the costs of animals chewing rails. They can do a lot of damage to the fences as well as vet costs in dealing with splinters in gums and other injuries,'' he said.
"Electric fence outriggers put a stop to that destructive behaviour."
Mounting the units low to the ground helped manage smaller animals as well, he said.
"I've had a lot of interest from dog studs, goat and pig farmers,'' he said.
He said because the main unit is built totally of polyprop plastic, it alleviates any chance of electrical shorts and it can hold electric wires or tapes.
Until now Howard has been selling his units through his website and social media platforms as well as a few rural stores.
He now has his eyes on developing his brand in overseas markets, especially targeting Australia at first, then on to Europe and the USA.
And his inventor's brain continues to come up with new ideas, mentioning several concurrent new projects, although he insists he does sleep well at night.