Felling Trailers Partners with Local Schools to Spark Interest In Manufacturing

Company's goal is to give real-world training experience to students from high school age and up
Felling Trailers Partners with Local Schools to Spark Interest In Manufacturing

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In 2011, when Ben Myhre was hired for a welding position at Felling Trailers, he never imagined 6-1/2 years later he would be teaching a weld training course to classrooms of fellow employees and high school students.

In early 2016 Myhre was approached by the Felling Trailers ownership team and asked to take part in the creation of the company’s Weld Training Center in Sauk Centre, Minnesota. “Since Ben joined the Felling Trailers’ Manufacturing Team in 2011, he has displayed strong leadership skills with his co-workers on the shop floor and determination to improve on training operations,” says Paul Radjenovich, Felling Trailers’ VP of operations.

Myhre recently received his certified welding inspector certification from the American Welding Society, which will play a key part in his continued instruction.

Career Development Program

Felling Trailers Weld Training Center, housed in a recently acquired property connects to the southeast corner of its Sauk Centre location. It was here that Myhre worked with Byron Emery, a Dakota County Technical College welding instructor to create the curriculum and the welding lab.

The state-of-the-art welding lab consists of six welding booths, an instructional booth, and a small classroom adjacent to the lab.

“Byron and I created the entire process,” says Myhre. “We pooled our experiences together both on the job and in the classroom and came up with a curriculum that was driven towards processes and operations within Felling Trailers.”

Later Myhre worked with Jake Fisher; an industrial technology teacher at Sauk Centre High School to create a structured curriculum for high school students based off Felling Trailers’ welding curriculum. The training course is an 80-hour course with 25 percent being classroom work and 75 percent lab work.

Experience Varies

One of Myhre’s first classes was taught to fellow employees.

"I had a great mix of students in the first run,” says Myhre. “All of the students had some welding experience, and some had more than others. None of them had any formal training on welding. They all were super eager to learn. The high school kids came in with a much higher technical knowledge base with the majority of them having previously completed welding courses in school.”

The course starts with a review of the basics of welding.

"We review the basics of gas metal arc welding to create training that breaks down the ins and outs of welding,” Myhre says. The course is designed to give a real world look at the manufacturing industry in Central Minnesota, as well as what it takes to perform at a high level in the industry.

There are tough parts to go with the training instructor duties. "I feel the hardest thing to do is stand there and watch people struggle with their welding techniques,” Myhre says. “Welding requires repeatability. Repeatability takes time. I give them the tools they need to succeed and refine them through practice. The best part of my job is when people lift their hood smiling, look at me and say ‘this is the one Ben’."

Felling Trailer’s CEO Brenda Jennissen says manufacturing skills are vital to the company’s success and it’s the desire to ensure Sauk Centre Public Schools continues to offer quality manufacturing education.

“We enjoy giving the industrial tech students tours of our facility each year, and we wanted to do more,” Jennissen says. “We wanted to see what we could do to help students see and experience the opportunities in their backyard. Our mission for this program is to provide high school students and employees with the skills and tools needed to succeed in our growing manufacturing business through career experiences that are both hands on and real world.“ 

With the first year of Felling Trailers’ Weld Training Program in the books and a great success, the spark remains strong. For more information, visit www.felling.com or call 800/245-2809.


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