Vermeer commemorates tornado recovery

Jason Andringa, Vermeer president and CEO, breaks ground for the company's commemorative monument.

Last summer’s tornado was the greatest challenge Vermeer Corp. has ever faced, said Jason Andringa, the company’s president and CEO.

“I am incredibly proud to say our team has turned it into an opportunity,” Andringa said. “Not only are we rebuilding what we had, but we’re becoming stronger than ever before.

With three new facilities underway at its Pella, Iowa-based headquarters, Vermeer is investing heavily in the future, the company said.

Shop 48, Vermeer’s new engineering and R&D building, is scheduled to open this summer.

Last Friday, July 12, Vermeer held the groundbreaking for a monument commemorating the buildings destroyed by an EF3 tornado last July, while celebrating the strength of the Vermeer team and the growth and progress that is happening along the Vermeer Mile. The first facility scheduled to open this summer is a new engineering and R&D building named Shop 48.

The name stems from founder Gary Vermeer’s shop, where his innovations came to life and led to the founding of Vermeer in 1948. With more than 100,000 square feet of space dedicated to building and testing new equipment, team members will begin to move into this space in August.

“We’re very fortunate at Vermeer to have a 71-year history of innovation,” said Doug Hundt, president, industrial solutions. “Shop 48 will take our innovation and growth opportunities long into the future.

During the groundbreaking ceremony, Plant 7 was formally announced as the new facility being built where Plants 5 and 6 once stood. Nearly 500,000 square feet of manufacturing and office space will expand beyond the original manufacturing footprint that took up just less than 400,000 square feet of the area. The new facility will connect to the original Plant 7 that was damaged in the tornado, but repaired in the months following. Together, they will take on the name Plant 7.

Scheduled to be complete in fall 2020, this facility is being built to keep team members safe at every touch point on the job, create ultimate productivity, be a collaborative and engaging space for team members and allow for growth long into the future, Vermeer said. Incorporating advanced manufacturing techniques and continuous improvement best practices will help drive world class manufacturing.

“Looking ahead, this facility is going to be world-class in every feature,” said Bill Blackorby, vice president, operations. “We’re advancing our paint technology, coat technology and the space for our team.”

Also recognized was the new Eco Center. Replacing the one lost in the tornado, the new building will be placed behind Plant 1 and open its doors in January 2020. The Eco-Center helps responsibly process and manage waste along the Mile.

“Our customers depend on our ability to get high quality equipment to them,” said Mark Core, executive vice president, forage and lifecycle, and chief marketing officer. “This new facility makes us excited to continue to deliver on this promise into the future.

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