Felling Trailers Celebrates its 40th Anniversary
You could say it was destiny. Merle Felling demonstrated his knack for trailer design at the tender age of 10, when he built his first trailer out of metal from a hay loader, adding wheels from a horse mower. He used the trailer on the family farm to haul rocks and hay bales to the barn.
Turns out it was an auspicious beginning.
In 1974, Merle and his wife Kathy bought a welding shop that provided repair work and small custom welding and fabrication for local businesses and farmers. The shop was located in downtown Sauk Centre, MN. They re-christened the shop Sauk Center Welding and Machine Works and expanded their services to include farm and industrial equipment repair, custom fabrication and manufacturing of bale feeders, bale forks, hog crates and comfort stalls.
Poor quality leads to innovation.
Merle determined that many of his trailer repair jobs were needed due to poor quality initial fabrication, so he created his own line of Felling Trailers aimed at local contractors and other businesses. Demand was high, and the business grew quickly.
Felling Trailers expanded five times at their downtown Sauk Centre location before they had to relocate to a larger site outside town. Even there, they continued to expand as the company added more products to their popular line of trailers. Finally, in 2012, they built a second facility – more than 250,000 square feet — in Litchfield, MN, to house production and offices. That facility now employs 250 people.
Felling is a family business.
As the company has grown, it also attracted the next generation of family members who had been working elsewhere in sales and marketing and management. Merle and Kathy now co-own and operate the company with daughters Brenda and Bonnie and their respective husbands, Patrick Jennissen and Paul Radjenovich.
In late October, the company invited the community to an open house in celebration of their 40th anniversary. Brenda Jennissen is Felling’s director of finance and public relations. “Manufacturing jobs are in high demand,” she notes, “and we were able to show attendees why.”
Felling Trailers now manufacturers more than 3,500 trailers each year 3,000 lb. utility trailer to a 120,000 lb. hydraulic gooseneck trailer. As it always has been, the focus is on design and engineering that incorporate the latest technology and techniques and the highest quality craftsmanship. There are over 220 models in their standard trailer line, but the company is especially proud of their custom division that helps each customer turn a conceptual trailer into a tangible product.
In 40 years, Felling Trailers has gone from one small shop to a manufacturing powerhouse that provides trailers to customers across North America and beyond.