CME Awards Program


Charles Balmer (Valmar)

Charles Balmer, founder of Valmar Airflo of Elie, Manitoba was an accomplished inventor, designer, entrepreneur and business leader in the agricultural equipment manufacturing industry.

Born and raised in Switzerland, Charles first came to Canada after graduating with a diploma in agriculture as a diesel mechanic trainee with Massey-Ferguson. In the early 1960s, Charles obtained his pilot license and became one of the first crop dusters in Manitoba. This pioneer role was the spark that inspired Charles to develop his own granular fertilizer applicators; believing he could build something simple that every farmer could spray on their own crops.

Over the next five decades, Charles would lend his innovative, inquisitive approach and passion for all things mechanical to a series of entrepreneurial endeavors on his own and for established, multinational corporations. Over his career, Charles amassed 24 international, US and Canadian patents for his innovations, including the Valmar Airflo Granular Herbicide Applicator, AirSpread and AirMax boom-type fertilizer spreaders, and the Willmar AirRide high clearance, self-propelled sprayer.

For more than 30 years, Charles led his own company, Valmar Airflo Inc, making a significant and long-lasting contribution to Manitoba’s manufacturing and agricultural industries. Charles passed away in September 2006.