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Grow With Us: The People of Felling - Wade Skillings, Lead Machine Operator

Felling Trailers has been proudly manufacturing trailers for over 45 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 – 12.” Here you will meet the people of Felling; we will share a bit about the people that 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. To continue our series, we would like you to meet Wade Skillings, Lead Machine Operator Fabrication Team, Felling Trailers, Inc., Sauk Centre.

Wade Skillings, Lead Machine Operator Fabrication Team

Name: Wade Skillings
Status: 2 Years
Title: Lead Machine OperatorWade Skillings Felling Trailers Lead Machine Operator

Wade joined the Felling Trailers team in the late spring of 2018, working with the Fabrication team as a machine operator running the press brake. As a press brake operator, Wade was responsible for forming the raw steel components to the part specifications needed for the construction of a trailer. The bulk of trailer parts produced in the Fabrication Center process through the press brake at one stage or another. The operator must review their job tickets and prioritize them to maximize productivity and complete parts checks to assure adherence to quality standards, making necessary adjustments as needed.

Before coming to Felling Trailers, Wade had worked at LSC Communications, a printing company in Long Prairie, MN. “I started as a helper and worked my way up to a senior machine operator and lead person. I worked there for 30 years until the company decided to close the plant.” Wade gained his skills and knowledge “on the job” as many do in manufacturing, learning from their senior team members. “I only have a high school education and not further education other than learning from the school of hard knocks,” said Wade.

A short time before Skillings joined the team, the company had completed the construction of their new Fabrication Center. The new building was designed to streamline production processes and increase manufacturing efficiencies by bringing existing fabricating machines and new ones under one roof. This included the company’s three press brakes, Marvel 2150 Band Saw, Hyd-Mech S23A horizontal band saw, Mitsubishi Fiber laser, lathe, and mill. The layout design of the Fabrication Center was based on the equipment used to complete the processing of fabricated parts. The key goals for the Fab Center were to: reduce the number of times material was being handled, increase worker safety, and work environment comfort.

 Gaining Experience & Knowledge

Wade worked as a press brake operator for a few months and then moved on to learn the operation and responsibilities of a saw operator. “My position changes were motivated by my supervisors. It was also an opportunity to learn other jobs and gain experience and knowledge in building trailers,” said Wade. Continuing to learn and grow, not long into being a saw operator, Wade was offered the opportunity to be trained on the operation and programming maintenance of the company’s Mitsubishi Fiber Laser. Today Wade is the lead laser operator for Felling’s dayshift Fabrication team.

“Working at Felling Trailers in the Fab area and throughout the plant there seems to be a bond that grows between people. We become good friends and part of a “working family” that care about one another.” – Wade Skillings, Lead Machine Operator at Felling Trailers

Part of a “Work Family”

When asked why Wade chose Felling to be where he worked, he said, “Working at Felling Trailers in the Fab area and throughout the plant there seems to be a bond that grows between people. We become good friends and part of a “working family” that care about one another. When I lost my job in the printing industry, I didn’t have a clue as to what to do or what skills I had to offer another employer. Fortunately, when I applied at Felling Trailers and through my interview, Sheri and the Felling management team had more trust in my abilities than I had in myself. I am very grateful to be a part of the Felling Trailers team. I hope that I can continue to be a good employee and continue to benefit the company into the future.” We are glad to have Wade as part of our team, thank you, Wade!

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 twelfth feature in our “Grow with Us” series.  Read the other stories about Jacob Meyer, Inside Trailer Sales, Bob Vangstad, Painter, Chad Steinhofer, Lead Welder, Benji Hudalla, Final Inspector, Nathan Uphus, Sales, Sheri Leonard, Human Resource & Safety Coordinator, and Kristie Moritz, Scheduling Coordinator.

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