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Marv Chell Early Industry Pioneer Passes Away
One of the biggest innovators in the early years of pallet automation recently died having contributed a lot to the industry and society.

By Ed Brindley
Date Posted: 2/1/2018

One of the early pioneers in pallet machinery recently passed away at the age of 90. Marv Chell, a longtime pallet industry friend, started Viking Engineering and became known for the Viking nailing machines, in particular the Duo-Matic nailing system.

Marv died Sunday, January 7th and is survived by his lovely wife Marian to whom he was married for 69 years. Marv and I broke into the pallet industry during the 1970s. At that time there was no better-known nailing system around the world than the Viking Duo-Matic, which was particularly popular for building stringer pallets in high volumes.

Marv introduced the Duo-Matic to an international audience in Switzerland in the mid-70s. I first met him in 1977 at the World Pallet Congress in Blacksburg, Virginia. Marv showed a video of the Duo-Matic. It was the first time that many North American pallet owners had seen a Viking nailing machine in action. It is safe to say that it captured the attention of attendees at the World Pallet Congress.

Marv was highly respected by the pallet industry. He was a popular speaker at a number of pallet meetings and was a regular contributor to Pallet Enterprise. Marv is remembered for his big smile and positive personality.

Marv died peacefully in Pine River, Minnesota. He was born in Minneapolis and lived much of his life in Minnesota with some time spent in Las Vegas. Marv is survived by his wife of 69 years, Marian Chell, and children Stephen Chell, Jeffrey Chell, Susan Hagen, and Dale Chell, as well as grandchildren and great grandchildren. Marv was a WWII Navy veteran who served in the South Pacific on the U.S.S. Vulcan.

In addition to starting Viking Engineering and Development, Marv also started Viking Pallet, a stand-alone pallet producer.  Throughout his life, he was active in prison ministries and volunteered at county jails. Marv was known for his personality and sense of humor. He loved to garden, travel, play the piano, and visit with family and friends. He has been missed over recent years since he retired and will be fondly remembered by pallet people around the world.

A number of Viking employees attended Marv’s wake, including current Viking employees Kent Johnson, Lance McKenzie, Mark Mitchell and Kurt Larsen. Retired employee Jim Gookin attended and shared many of his fond memories of Marv. Marv’s son Stephen made Marv’s casket from a tree from Marv’s yard.

Kurt Larsen, current president of Viking, shared that he learned from Warren Williams, one of the initial founders of Viking along with Marv, how they used to make pallets in the morning and then quickly go sell them in the afternoon. Few people in our industry have matched Marv’s contributions to our industry. Those who knew Marv will truly miss him.

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