It’s business as usual at the trailer company
The work of manufacturing livestock, grain, and implement trailers goes on as usual at Donahue Corporation in rural Durham, but as of Oct. 1, the business has new owners, Doug and Amy Kjellin of rural Marion.
Doug Kjellin resigned from his position as Marion city administrator in September. He said he is happy to be back doing something he loves.
“I know my talents lie in a business like this,” he said.
Kjellin formerly developed and managed a business in McPherson — Integrity Refuelers — that manufactured refueling trucks for the aviation industry.
He said the business was very successful and prospered until the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
“On Sept. 12, we lost half a million dollars of business,” he said.
He held on for a while with a contract with Conoco/Phillips but closed the business in 2004.
After pursuing several avenues of employment, including Marion economic development director and city administrator, he is happy to be back in the manufacturing business.
He said he began thinking about going back into business for himself in July.
“I’m still not 50, and I’ve got one more big thing in me,” he told himself.
He and his wife began praying for direction.
He met with his former accountant in McPherson, who informed him that Donahue Corporation was a client and was for sale.
Kjellin jumped at the chance to buy it, and decided to proceed after Amy gave her full support. Financial arrangements were made through Tampa State Bank.
He said the takeover has gone smoothly because Donahue Corporation is a well-run company, has experienced craftsmen, and sells excellent products.
“There’s not much to improve on,” he said.
Even after the former owners, the late Joan and Jim Donahue, were no longer able to run the company, their longtime employees Ray Remmers, general manager; Mike Stika, sales manager; Jason Stika, shop manager; and Holly Bethe, office manager kept it going. Sales even increased slightly.
Kjellin believes the company has “outstanding” potential. He said the physical plant has the capacity to double its production, and he is hoping to increase the network of retailers throughout the country. He has 14 employees at present.
Kjellin is thankful for the opportunity to own the company.
“It was truly a work of God’s hand in providing this,” he said. “I like to say I traded a mountain of frustration for a mountain of responsibility, but it’s the best trade I’ve ever made.”
Kjellin has a bachelor of science degree in business administration with a minor in economics from Wichita State University.