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Grow With Us: The People of Felling, Ben Myhre, Welding Trainer

Felling Trailers has been proudly manufacturing trailers for over 45 years trailers. Join us as we take a look back and see how much our company, along with our employees, has grown. Many of you may already know the story of how Felling Trailers started as a small fabrication shop in downtown Sauk Centre in 1974. Continuing to add to this story, we invite you to read our “Grow with Us Series – 21.” Here you will meet the people of Felling; we will share a bit about the people who have played a part in what our company is today and where we will be tomorrow. Some of the people you will meet have been with us for many years, some decades, and others are starting their careers at Felling. We would like you to meet Ben Myhre, Welding Trainer, Felling Trailers, Inc., to continue our series.

Ben Myhre, Welding TrainerGrow With Us: The People of Felling, Ben Myhre, Welding Trainer

Name: Ben Myhre
Status: 11 Years
Title: Welding Trainer

Ben joined the Felling Trailers team in April of 2011 as an interim team member through a “temp” agency, then was offered a full-time position with Felling in June of that year. Ben was part of the Weld Production team working on one of Felling’s two beam welders. The beam welder system is a hard automation dual torch system that welds trailer beams for semi and tag trailers, with a 36″ x 53′ beam capacity. As the beam welder operator, Ben would read and interpret the blueprints and detailed drawings for the beam weld jobs that were being completed. He would place the materials in position, prepare the surface, then monitor the weld system as it completed the weld process. The last step in each weld job was to complete a final visual weld inspection before off-loading the completed beam from the weld platform.

Interested in Welding in his Youth

Like many others, Ben’s interest in welding started long before he joined Felling Trailers. “I graduated from Long Prairie (high school) and went to Alex Tech (Alexandria Technical College) for welding technology. I worked for Miltona Blacksmith during college; then, I worked briefly for Falls Fabrication after college. I worked at Standard Iron for about a year before I was deployed to Iraq. Once I got back from Iraq, I took 2-years of generals at St. Cloud State (University). From there, I moved back to Long Prairie and started working at Felling,” said Ben.  

Beam Welder to Trailer Build Welder

A change of pace, Ben shifted from the beam welder to the trailer build side of welding. “When I moved off the beam welder, it was to do more manual welding as well as my interest in building the whole trailer instead of just the beams,” said Ben. On the trailer build side of welding, team members work together to place materials in the trailer jig, secure them in position, then begin the welding process. Once the welding process is complete, the weld team has taken the build from individual pieces of steel to a single complete trailer frame that is then ready for the next production stage, blast, and paint.

The Start of the Weld Training CenterWelding Camp & Welding Careers at Felling Trailers

In early 2016 Myhre was approached by Felling Trailers Ownership and asked to take part in creating the Felling Trailers’ Weld Training Center as the Welding Trainer. Ben worked alongside Byron Emory, Dakota County Technical College welding instructor, to make the curriculum and the welding lab. The state-of-the-art welding lab consists of 6 welding booths, an instructional booth, and a small classroom adjacent to the lab. The two pooled their experiences to create a curriculum-driven towards processes and operations within Felling Trailers. Later, Ben worked with the Industrial Technology teacher at the Sauk Centre School District to create a structured welding curriculum for high school students. The welding training course is an 80-hour course, 25% classroom, 75% lab work. “When I made the switch from welder to welding trainer, I chose to accept the job because I enjoy helping people learn how to weld and improve their skills. The chance to help teach a high school class was also awesome because it opens the door to so many young kids interested in welding. They have the opportunity to gain the skill and get work experience that helps start their life out on the right foot,” said Myhre.

“When I made the switch from welder to welding trainer, I chose to accept the job because I enjoy helping people learn how to weld and improve their skills. The chance to help teach a high school class was also awesome because it opens the door to so many young kids interested in welding. They have the opportunity to gain the skill and get work experience that helps start their life out on the right foot.”

Ben Myhre, Weld Trainer

Weld Training Continues for Kids & Co-WorkersWleding Traîner at Felling Trailers

The high school weld training course is now in its sixth year. A few of Ben’s previous students are now his co-workers, having chosen to pursue internships and weld positions with Felling Trailers after graduation. In 2017 Felling Trailers expanded their weld training classes to a younger group offering a welding camp for ages 12-18. The weld camp is now in its fifth year, with the participation of both boys and girls and the interest of so many more that there is a waiting list for each session offered. Along with teaching elementary and high school students, Ben has the opportunity to teach his co-workers who currently hold a position in one of the other production departments that have an interest in learning to weld or improve their welding skills. Felling Trailers strongly believes in offering the opportunity to learn and grow within the company. The weld training and other training programs the company has in place allow their team to do so.

More than Just a Job

When asked why Ben chose Felling Trailers to be where he worked, he said, “At the time I chose to come work at Felling, I had seven close friends that worked here. It was a growing business with opportunity for additional overtime.” Now, 11-years later, it’s a lot more than that, “I enjoy being the one to help others learn about welding and improve their skills.” 

Being a Part of the Rapid Growth

Since joining the Felling Trailers team over a decade ago, Ben has seen and been a part of the company’s rapid growth and change. “When I started, we thought we were busy when we had 40 trailers on our backlog in our area, now that number and job security has grown a lot. As a company, we have improved the way we prepare parts for upcoming trailers, our work centers have made all kinds of improvements that help the flow of product lines. Our QC (Quality Control) department went from all internal inspections that were undocumented to an external department in addition to an internal department. Our robotic welding department has grown from 1 robot when I started to soon to be three robots. We added a second beam welder to the fabricated beam work center. There was only one press brake when I started. There now are three. Our laser table is significantly faster and bigger than our previous equipment. Our welding areas have expanded in all directions in the shop,” said Ben. We are glad to have Ben as part of our team. Thank you, Ben!  

Learn more about Joining the Felling Trailers Team!

Are you interested in becoming part of the Felling Team? Learn more about a career at Felling Trailers and grow with us!

This is the twenty-first  feature in our “Grow with Us” series.  Read the other stories about Lloyd Schoutz, Maintenance Technician, Warren Weber, Product Manager,  Paul Pachan, Night Shift Supervisor, Scott Brown, Parts & Service Supervisor, Jordan Bruggenthies, Paint & Blast, Darwin Bast, Production Weld, Jim Robischion, Accounting Coordinator, Wade Skillings, Lead Machine Operator, Jacob Meyer, Inside Trailer Sales, Bob Vangstad, Painter, Chad Steinhofer, Lead Welder, Benji Hudalla, Final Inspector, Nathan Uphus, Sales, Jeremy Kuperus, Robot Operator & Senior Welder, Sheri Leonard, Human Resource & Safety Coordinator, Brian Lawver, Weld Supervisor, Greg Waletzko, Quality Assurance Manager at Felling Trailers, and Kristie Moritz, Scheduling Coordinator.

 

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