PELLA, Iowa — Industrial and agricultural equipment manufacturer plans to expand its Iowa production site less than two months after a tornado tore through its factories, destroying two plants.
The July 19 tornado reached speeds of 144 mph, ripping apart buildings and idling production lines at Vermeer Corp’s campus near Pella, The Des Moines Register reported. Vermeer is Pella’s largest single employer with about 2,800 employees.
CEO Jason Andringa said the company worked hard to resume production operations. All employees were back to work by Aug. 20.
“There is no way I would have imagined on July 19th that would be possible,” Andringa said.
Despite the rebuilding process, the sales volume last month outpaced numbers from August 2017, he said.
“So far, we feel as though we’ve lost very, very few sales, and very, very little market opportunity because of the tornado,” Andringa said. “Our volume has bounced back quickly.” He said the company is meeting production demands even as work continues to repair the storm’s damage.
Two of the company’s plants destroyed in the storm will be demolished and rebuilt, he said. The company plans to add a new engineering facility to the Pella campus and the facility will act as a central location for the company’s engineers, who are currently spread across several temporary, off-campus locations, Andringa said.
“Not only are we recovering, but we are already making decisions for how we’re going to come back better and stronger than ever before as a result of this tornado.”