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Grow With Us: The People of Felling, Ron Funk, Machinist

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 – 23.” 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. To continue our series, we would like you to meet Ron Funk, Fabrication Machinist, Felling Trailers, Inc., Sauk Centre.

Ron Funk Felling Trailers Machinist

 

Ron Funk

Fabrication Machinist

Name: Ron Funk
Status: 38 years
Title: Fabrication Machinist

 

Sauk Centre Welding & Machine Works

Ron joined the company in the early days when it was known as Sauk Centre Welding & Machine Works, a small welding shop in downtown Sauk Centre. “In 1979, I started working for Sauk Centre Welding & Machine Works doing repairs and learned some machining, then we got into building trailers,” said Ron. Ron graduated from Melrose High School in 1972 and then attended Alexandria Technical College for welding in 1973. After completing the welding program, Ron gained experience working for Scott’s Manufacturing for 3-1/2 years, then worked for North Star Concrete in Mankato for three years. With 6-1/2 years of manufacturing experience under his belt, Ron came to Felling Trailers. “I was told Merle (founder of Felling Trailers) was looking for help. I had an interview with Merle, and he hired me,” said Ron.

From a Repair Shop to a Trailer Manufacturer

Ron started in weld repair. The company catered to local farmers and businesses doing repairs and small custom welding and fabrication jobs at that time. From the repair side of the business, Merle saw the lack of quality workmanship in many of the trailers coming through the shop. What started as a few custom trailers transitioned into an expanding product line. As demand for the Felling trailers grew, Ron moved from weld repair to weld production. He had a hand in building some of the largest trailers offered in the Felling Trailers’ product line. Ron was the lead welder in the semi-trailer weld production line. Funk and his team would build semi-trailers capable of hauling 25–60-ton loads.

Precision Machinist – Metal Craftsman

Clausing Metosa Lathe - Ron FIn 2019 the opportunity to move to the Fabrication team as a Machinist was offered to Ron, and he accepted. “I liked machining. It’s easier and cleaner work. It’s something I wanted to do before I retired,” said Ron. As a Machinist, Ron is responsible for operating various machines to fabricate metal parts to precise specifications. Working daily with the Summit Mill and Clausing Metosa Lathe, Ron machines trailer parts to the exact specifications on the blueprints, verifying that the part produced meets or exceeds the required quality standards.

 “As the company grew, the shop kept getting bigger and updated machines. I have seen it all. From hammers and torches to lasers and robots,”

– Ron Funk , Machinist at Felling Trailers

From Hammers and Torches to Lasers and Robots

When asked why Ron chose Felling Trailers to be where he worked, he said, “I enjoy working for Felling Trailers. It’s the kind of work I like to do. The people are friendly. It’s in a small town and close to home.” Since joining the Felling Trailers team almost 40 years ago, Ron has seen and been a part of the company’s growth and change. “When I started, it was just a little repair shop downtown. As we grew bigger, we added to the shop, rented another building, and started building trailers for Towmaster. Then Merle went on his own building Felling Trailers, then we (Felling Trailers) moved across the freeway. As the company grew, the shop kept getting bigger and updated machines. I have seen it all. From hammers and torches to lasers and robots,” said Ron. From the small shop in downtown Sauk Centre to where we are today, two production locations covering 325,000 sq ft, we have grown and will continue to do so. With people like Ron and all who make up the Felling Trailers team, there are no limits to where we will be as long as we keep moving forward. We are glad to have Ron as part of our team. Thank you, Ron!

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-third feature in our “Grow with Us” series.  Read the other stories about Johnny Woodman, Lead Welder, Ben Myhre, Welding Trainer, Lloyd Shoutz, 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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