Who is STILT.PRO anyway?


STILT.PRO is on a quest for product ideas and collaboration.

How it all started

I started STILT.PRO while I was working for John Deere. Many evenings and weekends were spent at the R.A. Dudley’s nursery where I had a small office in the back of one of their shops. I could see the operation and learn about how everything worked. It was an invaluable opportunity. It showed me the pain points and operational needs around a wholesale nursery. I was immersed in the business and could see where there were needs for mechanization and equipment as inputs continued to rise and adequate labor continues to be a constant concern.

I worked on many concepts and ideas (so many ideas…) Things ranging from plastic covering for freeze production, shade cloth unhooking tools to keep people off ladders and a production pace timer for the potting line.


At this time, they were starting to use rice hulls for weed control. The team was using insulation blowers to dispense product and it just wasn’t the right tool for the job. And so begins the journey of developing a rice hull blower to match the needs of a wholesale nursery.

Taking this opportunity, I designed, fabricated, and then delivered a prototype machine that was not perfect but provided a good start. It was the first of its kind rice hull blower, but we weren’t there yet. I brought the machine back to my garage and I began the process of refining this machinery so that it was productive, tough and reliable. That machine now has some 1300 hours on it and is continuing to be used to this day. We now have numerous machines in various sized nurseries that day in and day out are covering containers with rice hulls.

That’s how STILT.PRO was started…

We are always considering where we want to go. Our vision has always been to collaborate with our clients to help solve your operational problems to improve nursery profitability and productivity. We’ve got a shop now and I’ve brought on a small but great team that can do engineering, fabrication, design and sales. We can take your needs and frustrations and deliver tough, reliable solutions.

In 2021, I observed a need for a more integrated solution of soil mixing and potting. We dug in again, did our research, designing, and prototyping, and brought to market a sub ½ yard soil mixer and filler. This machine is designed to be operated by a single person and can be filled from the rear with a skid steer or tractor or from the front with bagged media. At the beginning of summer, we sold our first unit. We are continuing to refine it as we get more of your feedback. If you are interested, please reach out.

We run lean

Our “style” of product development is to be lean, nimble and continue to improve our products as we go. Our business is designed to be forgiving of change and to allow us to continuously improve product. We try to get to what we think will work as fast as possible to get market feedback. You know your operation better than anyone so the sooner we can get products in your hands to try, the sooner we can react to your feedback. Plus, things are complicated, so if we hold off too long to operate the equipment, we increase our risk of missing something obvious. We’ve incentivized ourselves internally by offering long warranty periods.

What can we do and what do we need?

We can solve most complex engineering problems, whether it be a machine, an electronic device, or software. We’ve done it and have an understanding of it.

Developing a collaborative relationship between you, the grower, and us, the builder is a priority. For all of us to be successful, we need your help in identifying problems that are worth solving.

If you’ve read this far – lets collaborate.

All the best,

Tom Knuth
CEO and Founder
C: (218) 343-2650

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What does the warranty look like?

3 Year, Unlimited Hours Warranty – INCLUDED

What does it include?

Includes: Problem identification, remote trouble shooting of issue, support and instruction for proper repair, and providing replacement of failed parts.

What is excluded?

Excludes – Misuse of equipment (including using non horticultural potting mixes with high sand and field soil content) or improper care, such as leaving fertilizer in machine for an extended period of time.  Wear parts (chain, slats, wear plates or surfaces).  External physical damage inflicted on the machine.  Labor repair costs.

We will walk you through the repair process and make sure you're happy.

What about Service Parts?

Yes, we keep inventory of most all parts. Most all of the components are either US Sourced or a common off the shelf component. We are having some supply chain issues on components, but we are working through the best way to manage that.

What about Repair?

All of our machines are designed right here in the US.  We design these machines to be easily repairable by an inexperienced worker.  Should a problem arise, you won’t need to weld or fabricate a new part.  The entire machine is bolted together and you can simply bolt in a replacement part.

The hopper capacity seems low

We have heard that concern, I get it, you won’t be able to load a machine up and let a person pot plants for a day.

Some perspective – The rear load machine holds about 3/4 – 1 cubic yard which is up to about 200 gallons of material. That gives you about 15 minutes of runtime without stopping.

The reason for the smaller equipment size is to primarily keep the price and complexity down.

Increasing the machine size has a few unwelcome side effects:

-Increase horsepower requirements which means increased power – now you have to have dedicated power for the machine.

-Increasing the hopper size also increases the physical size of the machine which increases the overall cost and reduces portability

You may have not made a purchase on a potting machine in the past because of the overall cost.

We're being cautious around those concerns and trying to work within your business goals.

Is this production rate slow?

From time to time, we hear that our production rates appear slow. Look at it this way though. You have 5 or 10 workers running a high-speed line. SOMETHING GOES WRONG, you now have all these people standing around and/or you need to find a different job for them.

What's your real per man hour potting rate?

If you have a machine problem with a high-speed line you’re completely shut down.  With a cell-based design, you have a small part of the potting operation down.  Your efficiency is similar whether you have 1 or 4 people operating STILT.PRO machines.

Your business is complex, don't make it worse.

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