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Felling Trailers' Engle to Embark on Life's Next Adventure: Retirement

Wed May 22, 2024 - National Edition
Felling Trailers

Laurie Engle is retiring after 32 years with Felling Trailers.
Photo courtesy of Felling Trailers
Laurie Engle is retiring after 32 years with Felling Trailers.
Laurie Engle is retiring after 32 years with Felling Trailers.   (Photo courtesy of Felling Trailers) (L-R) are Merle J. Felling, Laurie Engle and Kathy Felling, in this 2008 photo.   (Photo courtesy of Felling Trailers) A custom FT-70-2 MX mobile platform trailer was designed for a Ferris wheel ride.   (Photo courtesy of Felling Trailers) Felling Trailers currently has more than 200 trailer models, including this FT-16 gooseneck flare trailer.   (Photo courtesy of Felling Trailers)

Laurie Engle, Felling Trailers' inside trailer sales consultant, has lived and breathed trailers for 32 years.

Engle's trailer tale started in the fall of 1991; Merle and Kathy Felling (founders of Felling Trailers) were in the midst of an office expansion. The local contractor running the expansion was Engle's husband. Like many family-owned businesses, Engle was lending a hand to complete the project, working on painting and staining.

"I was painting in the office one day, and the phones were ringing off the hook. I asked the secretary at the time if they [Felling] ever needed help answering phone calls, and she replied sure do," said Engle.

Not knowing much about trailers but willing to learn, she spoke with Merle later that day and expressed her interest in working for Felling Trailers. After a bit of conversation, Merle said, "Yes, certainly, but we'll start you off in the parts room, selling axles, brakes, sheet steel, etc., then transition into trailer sales."

Merle believed strongly that having a good foundation of knowledge about the components and construction of a trailer makes for a better salesperson.

"That was the best thing he ever did," said Engle. "Within six months, I sold my first trailer to Landscape Designs out of Alexandria, Minn., and when I was asked about the components on the trailer, I had the answers right away with my experience in parts sales."

In the early 90's, Felling Trailers did not have the extensive dealer network it does today; with a few dealers in the upper Midwest, Felling sold directly to end users.

"We also sold livestock/horse and enclosed cargo trailers at that time. We were very busy; my phone was ringing off the hook. I've never looked back," said Engle.

Photo courtesy of Felling Trailers

"Over the years, our product line grew dramatically; we now have 240 plus trailer models compared to the 8-10 different models we once offered. We never turned down a trailer deal, though; if a customer/dealer wanted something longer, shorter, taller, or different material, we'd make it happen."

With each decade that passed, the company never ceased to grow in one way or another. Merle strived to maintain an ongoing process of improving efficiencies with new equipment and cutting-edge technologies, expanding production space, and increasing the workforce.

"When I started, we [Felling] had only 4 or 5 bays, and trailers were painted across town. A few years down the road, more bays were added, along with paint and blast booths and finishing. Merle and Kathy were very busy raising a family while putting in many hours throughout the day at the shop. They were constantly looking ahead, building for their future and their children's futures," said Engle.

Today, the company is now owned and operated by Merle and Kathy's daughters, Brenda (Jennissen) and Bonnie (Radjenovich).

Felling Trailers has always been a very family-orientated business: "I watched the girls grow, right alongside my own three children, as they created their lives and started families," said Engle.

Through the years, Engle has built many working relationships with dealers and customers, solving transport problems other manufacturers said were unsolvable. Felling's Trailer Experts (sales team) work with dealers/customers to configure a trailer to meet the desired specifications and provide a custom solution.

"Laurie has been a fixture of Felling Trailers for a long time. Her experience and customer service skills will be sorely missed. Felling Trailers is a better place because of Laurie Engle," said Pat Jennissen, VP of sales and marketing.

"I am truly humbled by the trust and confidence placed in me over the years. The loyalty and support from dealers and customers has been the driving force behind my success, and for that, I am forever grateful," said Engle.

Photo courtesy of Felling Trailers

From the many standard-built trailers to those that have been highly customized, certain ones stand out from the rest. One such trailer was for an amusement park ride company located on the East Coast. They needed a mobile platform trailer that could be paired with their Ferris wheels.

Taking the specs and information provided by the amusement ride company, Engle worked internally with Felling's engineering team and custom fabricators to design and build a lightweight, high-quality trailer to meet the company's needs. The trailer was exactly what the amusement company needed; Felling built seven more trailers over the next five years.

Another series of even more unique trailers were flare trailers that would burn waste gases generated from pipelines, well sites, landfills, storage facilities and maintenance activities. The trailer was configured with hydraulic outriggers to stabilize the unit during use and a hydraulic telescoping flare unit powered by a gas-powered engine mounted to the trailer's deck.

"Laurie has been a strong asset to our team. In addition to her deep trailer knowledge and excellent customer relationships, Laurie's bright smile and tremendous personality will be missed in the office. I wish her the best retirement, making memories with her family," said Brenda Jennissen, president/CEO.

Engle will hang up her headset and power down her system for the last time as a trailer sales consultant in late May of this year.

"After 32 years of dedicated service in the trailer manufacturing and sales industry, the time has come for me to embark on a new chapter in my life as I transition into retirement. While I am excited for the opportunities ahead, I am also grateful for the incredible journey we have shared."

Passing on a few words of wisdom to those who follow, Engle said, "Work hard, no matter what your job is, whether it's on the phone getting the next sale or doing a fantastic job welding, painting or finishing a trailer."

"Congratulations on your retirement, Laurie! Your many years of hard work and dedication have inspired us all. We will miss your presence, but we're so happy for you as you embark on this new journey. We wish you all the best for this new chapter in your life," said Nathan Uphus, sales manager.

Engle's retirement plans are to "remember that I'm retired, enjoy life, family and friends and all the moments yet to come."

For more information about Felling Trailers, visit

Photo courtesy of Felling Trailers

(L-R) are Merle J. Felling, Laurie Engle and Kathy Felling, in this 2008 photo.

This story also appears on Truck and Trailer Guide.

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