It took several months to design and build, but Bryce Atkinson (left) and Kambel Stewart created the Kühl Haus, a deer processing and cooler facility, that’s earned them attention and accolades at a number of agriculture mechanics competitions. Courtesy photo
Marble Falls High School students Kambel Stewart and Bryce Atkinson began designing and building a combination deer processor and cooler center — dubbed Kühl Haus (cool house) — to fill a need of their families. However, when finished, the project won them a number of accolades, including Grand Champion in the recent San Antonio Rodeo and Livestock Show’s agriculture mechanics marketplace competition. Each student also came away with a $7,000 scholarship.
They started with what became a string of championships closer to home.
“When we got to the (Burnet County Livestock) Show, the feedback we got told us we had built something pretty unique,” Stewart said.
The two began brainstorming and designing the project last spring to solve a hunting problem the two families had with a portable deer processing facility.
“There’s no cooler on the market that has both a cooler and processor as one unit,” Stewart said.
So Atkinson and Stewart designed one.
The students actually began working on the project in August 2021. It wasn’t just a matter of welding material together. During the design process, they had to take into consideration not just the Kühl Haus’ operation but other things such as transporting it. To stay within U.S. Department of Transportation standards for a trailer, the facility had to be a certain height. It’s not something they could correct once the Kühl Haus was completed.
“There was a lot of detail we had to think about,” Stewart said.
They also had to learn a lot about using a press brake to shape and bend sheet metal and how to mill the wood.
“The most challenging part of the project for me was building the door,” Atkinson said. “It was a challenge to make sure the door would fit into what we had built.”
Atkinson and Stewart worked on the project just about every day after class and weekends. They finally completed the Kühl Haus in late December 2021, just in time for the county show. After that, they competed in a litany of events, including the Hill District Grandstand in Fredericksburg, where they earned Champion Group Showmanship; the Fort Worth Stock Show, where they won Grand Championship in their division and Overall Reserved Grand Champion in the ag mechanics show; and the San Angelo Stock Show, where they took the Division Championship and Overall Reserved Grand Championship.
At the San Antonio show, the two entered a slightly different contest in the ag mechanics program. They competed in the marketplace division. While the overall design and build were part of the judging criteria, Atkinson and Stewart also had to produce a marketing and sales plan for the Kühl Haus, including brochures, sales literature, and product information.
As for the Kühl Haus, it sold for $79,000 during the San Antonio show’s auction.
“Yeah, we weren’t expecting that,” Stewart said. “When the bidding got to $20,000, we thought, ‘What’s going on?’ That was really amazing.”
The two are now looking at what they can come up with for next year. They realize that with the success of the Kühl Haus, other people across the state have taken notice of them. However, they aren’t letting that overwhelm them.
“We’ll have to wait and see what we come up with,” Atkinson said. “We have already been brainstorming ideas, but nothing has been decided.”
Whatever they come up with, it’s probably going to be something pretty kühl.