DES MOINES, Iowa — Joe Cummings stood on the workroom floor next to a newly formed black chain that stretched out about two or three times as long as he is high. Cummings has just spent part of his Monday afternoon working on it. One day soon it will join with a tractor. For now, it represents a new opportunity for Cummings. “I’ve been commuting back and forth from ‘Oski’ (Oskaloosa) for three years,” Cummings explained about his previous employer.
“This is an opportunity to be ten minutes from home versus an hour. I took the opportunity when it came up,” he said.
Cummings is in his fourth week of work at the new Vermeer Corporation expansion site in an industrial area on the north side of Des Moines.
“Potentially, if everything goes well in this area,” gestured production manager Nate Oostra as he gave a tour of the still mostly empty industrial building that Vermeer started renting in January. “Future expansion for the facility would be in that corner.”
But expansion requires additional staffing and the company hasn’t been able to find enough of it among Pella’s 10,500 residents.
Vermeer isn’t looking to leave Pella, the company’s 75-year home, Mindi Vanden Bosch said just in case anyone needed reassurance. “We know our name is known in Iowa. We know that it would be harder to put a brand experience outside of Iowa and really just wanting to understand where there’s labor and where we can do a good job of supporting this facility from Pella.”
Vanden Bosch, the company’s vice president of operations, can speak with authority regarding plans for the future because she knows the past. Her grandfather, Gary Vermeer, founded the company. Her mother, Mary Andringa, served as the company’s CEO. Her brother, Jason, holds that role now.
“We’re already pulling from about a 40 to 60-mile radius from Pella, still struggling to get the labor we need to fill the demand for our customers,” she said. “Pella is still going to be our home. Pella is still where we’ve got a million square feet under roof. That’s the home still. But where can we branch out to where the labor is, that we can hopefully get a little easier job getting the labor.”
About 90% of the Des Moines staff will be new hires, Oostra estimated. The company needs about 60 additional employees at the Des Moines site and is willing to train workers who lack previous experience. You can find more information about open positions here.