PELLA, Iowa — After a series of tornadoes hit parts of the Midwest and South over the weekend, it brought back memories for employees at Vermeer Corporation in Pella.
In July 2018, an EF-3 tornado destroyed more than 400,000 square feet of manufacturing space at Vermeer. The storm also damaged vehicles and left a few people injured. However, fortunately, no one died. The company believes that’s because one employee made a good decision.
“We received some bad information that we could actually resume normal operations, and I made the decision that that would probably be a bad idea. We were getting ready to sound an ‘all clear’ message to put everybody back to work. I decided that we weren’t going to do that, and we kept everyone in shelter,” said Billy Fox, the security and emergency preparations manager at Vermeer Corporation. “Thank God because I think it was five or seven minutes later when the tornado actually started to impact the north edge of our campus.”
“You think about 3,500 team members in their shelter with his one command. That says everything you need to know about Billy Fox … keeping everyone safe and dedicated to what he does every day,” said Steve Flann, senior director of environmental health and safety at Vermeer.
Since the 2018 tornado, Vermeer has built back more than 650,000 square feet, and it continues to invest in facilities around the world.