Felling Trailers expansion provides better efficiency

Jennissen, Radjenovich discuss equipment change
by Elizabeth Bethke

Felling Trailers Inc. has expanded once again at their Sauk Centre location, positioned along Highway 71 and I-94.
The company has undergone many additions since the established in 1954, previously called Sauk Centre Welding, then purchased and renamed to Sauk Centre Welding & Machine Works, Inc., by Merle J. and Kathy Felling in 1974. Along with additions, the company’s name was changed to Felling Trailers to align with its focus on custom-manufactured trailers and has been steadily and continuously growing since then.
“We decided to add a 15,000-square-foot addition to our 14,000-square-foot warehouse,” said Paul Radjenovich, Vice President of Operations. “The new addition will be used exclusively for making parts that go into our trailers.”
The idea of the addition was decided on last summer and completed this spring.
Many hours went into planning the layout of the new area, which is designed for better flow and ergonomics, and fewer wasted movements, while providing more area for growth.
“Currently, the business has two press brakes, but the addition provides a layout that will comfortably and efficiently accommodate five press brakes,” Radjenovich said. “We also allocated space for equipment that we think we will need in the future but do not currently have.”
The increase in space will serve as an advantage as the company purchases and installs new and improved equipment such as a fiber laser. A Mitsubishi 6000-watt fiber laser will replace the company’s old laser, a 4000-watt CO2 laser. 
“The fabrication department will use the new laser, equipped with a fully-automatic load, unload and a tower, to cut the metals for our trailers. This machine will more than double our capacity compared to our current laser,” Radjenovich said.
The current laser, purchased in 2008, does have a load and unload feature, but does not have a tower for material storage. It is able to take sheet steel, up to 1 inch thick, and cut it into parts with a clean edge. Since then, the laser has drastically reduced the number of holes that need to be drilled and has allowed for greater variation in their products.
“The ‘old way’ might have included taking a piece of structural steel, cutting, notching, welding and drilling it to get a part, which probably didn’t look as nice. With a laser we are able to cut a part with clean edges, bend it if necessary and weld or bolt it into place,” Radjenovich said.
As the business continues to expand and update equipment, the addition was deemed necessary.
“We will also be moving our two press brakes, high capacity saw, lathe, mill, ironworker and drill press into the new space,” Radjenovich said.
The company and its workers will be moving equipment around to make their system more efficient. Over the past few years, the company has seen itself outsourcing more. Because of the increase in cost and outsourcing, the company has also discussed purchasing other new equipment in the future.
“Although we have partnered with a lot of great vendors, there are still some negatives for us to outsource – extra cost, movement, freight, paperwork and often extra inventory,” Radjenovich said. “In addition to all of that, we are at the mercy of our vendors. We are relying on them to get our parts to us, correctly, when we need them.”
CEO Brenda Jennissen agreed.
“As a company, we are very concerned with efficiency,” she said. “With the purchase of the new laser and the addition of space, we will be able to cut down on wasted time and spend more time customizing our trailers while satisfying our customers.”
Jennissen also said she is looking forward to the completion of the addition because it is aimed towards exceeding customer expectations and as each employee works on the new equipment, they can continue to take pride in the finished product.
This year, the company has already reached a couple of their goals – expanding, and they have also recently become International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 9001:2015 Certified. Brenda Jennissen and Bonnie Radjenovich, the Fellings’ daughters and owners of Felling Trailers, Inc., are working on their next goal to become Women Owned Small Business Certified (WOSB).
“We are excited about our expansion,” Jennissen said. “We look forward to continuing to grow, hire and remain good stewards to our community.”

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