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Grow With Us: The People of Felling, Kevin "Op" Athmann, Beam Welder Operator

Felling Trailers has been proudly manufacturing trailers for 50 years. 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 – 36.” 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 people you will meet have been with us for many years, some decades, and others are starting their careers. We want you to meet Kevin Athmann, Beam Welder Operator for Felling Trailers, Inc., to continue our series.

Grow with Us Series – 36

Before we had the opportunity to share Kevin’s story, he passed while battling cancer for the second time. We felt his story needed to be shared; rest in peace, friend.

Kevin Athmann

 

 

 

 

Kevin “Op” Athmann
Felling Trailers
Name: Kevin “Op” Athmann
Status: 19 years
Title: Beam Welder Operator

 

Kevin joined the Felling Trailers team in November of 1999, initially working with the Finishing team, and then transitioned to Weld Production. “I was in Finishing for a couple of months when my dad, Vern Athmann, Lead Welder in the deck over trailers, asked me to help in bay 16 welding,” said Kevin. Before being hired at Felling, Kevin had worked for MidCon Asphalt in Sauk Centre after graduating high school in 1997. He started as a general laborer but quickly moved on to a roller operator, then a loader, and everything in between. “I stayed until the fall of 1999. We got laid off in the winter, and I wanted something year-round. My dad, Vern, told me to check out Felling Trailers, so I did, and I was hired the Monday after the second weekend of deer hunting,” said Kevin.

Felling Deck over Weld Team 2004

Deckover Production Weld Team 2004

Kevin worked in Weld Production for several years and had the opportunity to work in a variety of build areas, deck overs, small utility, pan, and semi-trailers. “I was a lead welder in Bay 16 (deck over trailers) for a while, then Brad Meyer asked me to be an operator and run the press brake and sheer,” said Kevin. Kevin moved on from Felling Trailers after fifteen years to explore different opportunities but found his way back to Felling in 2019. When he returned, he was back welding, but this time in Bay 40, where the X-Force hydraulic detachable goosenecks are built. “I worked here helping build/weld detach necks and small parts until January 2020, when I was diagnosed with cancer. Throughout my treatment, Felling was really good to me and my family. I came back in August ready to work back in Bay 40, helping in semis until I got my job as a Beam Welder operator,” said Kevin.

“I love learning new stuff and the challenges that come with it. The more I know, the more I can pass on to other employees to make their jobs easier and better.”

– Kevin “Op” Athmann, Beam Welder Opertor

Never Stop Growing & Learning

Deckover Semi Production Weld Team 2019

Deckover & Semi Production Weld Teams 2019

Throughout his time with Felling, he never stopped growing and learning. He enjoyed the challenge of a new job, a new role. “I love learning new stuff and the challenges that come with it. The more I know, the more I can pass on to other employees to make their jobs easier and better,” said Kevin. We asked Kevin why he chose Felling Trailers to be where he worked; he said, “It’s really a family atmosphere; almost everybody knows everybody. Just my story and experience with cancer, it was unbelievable what they (Felling) did for me and my family. The people you work with become your friends at work and outside of work. Everyone has the same goal at Felling Trailers: to help one another and make the best trailers in the USA. From start to finish, it’s amazing to see how many hands it takes to build a trailer.”

Since joining the Felling Trailers team in 1999, Kevin has seen and been a part of the company’s growth. “When I started, Merle would come out on the shop floor almost every day. It was awesome to see him out there. It seems I’ve witnessed it all, always growing, building expansions, and adding different locations (Litchfield and Huron). Not many people like change, but if you’re not growing and changing, you’re doing something wrong,” said Kevin.

Before we had the opportunity to share Kevin’s story, he passed while battling cancer for the second time. Kevin “Op” Athmann, welder-fabricator extraordinaire with Team Felling Trailers for over a combined 19 years, died after battling acute myeloid leukemia. Our hearts are incredibly heavy as we remember and mourn the loss of not only our colleague but our friend. Kevin was a very skilled welder-fabricator who was proactive in asking the people on his team what they needed to be done, had a great sense of humor, and enjoyed being a jokester. He was an uplifting individual, and his battle with lymphoma four years ago and, most recently, leukemia was inspiring. If you knew Kevin, you know he had a positive presence and enjoyed giving and taking jokes with his happy-go-lucky attitude. He had a distinctive smile and an energetic personality. It is particularly special to us that both he and his dad were a significant part of Felling Trailers’ success. He will always be remembered and missed tremendously. Kevin watches over his loving and devoted wife Sarah, his daughter Kylie and son Peyton, his sister Kari and her family, and parents Vern and Diane. His family was, without a doubt, his pride and joy. May God wrap his family, friends, and the Felling Trailers team in love and support as we navigate life without the fun-loving force that was Kevin! 👨‍🏭

We are proud to have had the opportunity to know Kevin, work with him, and fight with him. Stay tuned for a trailer auction in Kevin’s honor and memory, benefiting his family. #Team Warrior.

 

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 thirty-fifth feature in our “Grow with Us” series.  Read the other stories about Ismael Mendoza, Lead Painter, Greg Martino, Senior Welder, Mauricio “Jr” Perez, Parts & Service Associate, Aaron Butler, Senior Material Handler,   Chris Senger, Senior Material handler, Ron Funk, Machinist, Johnny Woodman, Lead Welder, Lloyd Shoutz, Maintenance Technician, Warren Weber, Product Manager, Scott Brown, Parts & Service Supervisor, Jim Robischion, Accounting Coordinator, Wade Skillings, Lead Machine Operator, Jacob Meyer, Inside Trailer Sales, Bob Vangstad, (retired) Painter, Chad Steinhofer, Lead Welder, Benji Hudalla, Final Inspector, Nathan Uphus, Sales, Greg Waletzko, (retired)Quality Assurance Manager at Felling Trailers, and Kristie Moritz, Scheduling Coordinator.

Comments

  1. Julie Stepan says

    This story touches my heart and shows why I am proud to call Sauk Centre my home. Felling Trailers is a huge part of this wonderful little town and I’m proud of the entire staff for being who you are to our community. I got to know Kevin as a young guy and he was such a special person back then…came from a great family. Thank you for honoring him!

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