"Plant 7," shown in an architectural rendering above, is one of three new buildings in the works at Vermeer Corp. in Pella. Contributed
"Plant 7," shown in an architectural rendering above, is one of three new buildings in the works at Vermeer Corp. in Pella. Contributed

Vermeer Corp. today announced it has begun construction on two new buildings on its Pella campus and is nearing completion of a third as the company continues its recovery from the EF3 tornado that destroyed two of its seven manufacturing buildings nearly a year ago.

Vermeer CEO Jason Andringa presided over a groundbreaking ceremony for Plant 7 -- a new 480,000-square-foot manufacturing and office building that will replace and expand upon the 360,000 square feet of manufacturing space destroyed in the tornado. That building is scheduled to be completed by October 2020.

"For myself and my team, when we knew within just a few hours after the tornado that we had no serious physical injuries, no fatalities, we knew that we had everything we needed to rebuild — we had our team," Andringa said.  

Construction has also begun on a new Eco Center for Vermeer, a 35,000-square-foot building that will be located just north of Vermeer’s Building 2. It will replace the former Eco Center building that was also destroyed in the tornado.

Meanwhile, work is nearing completion on "Shop 48" — which the company began constructing in September 2018 to house its engineering group. The 135,000-square-foot building will house all of the company’s prototype development work, said Vince Newendorp, vice president and chief administrative officer. The numbering is in recognition of Gary Vermeer’s founding of the family-owned company in 1948.

Vermeer workers should begin moving into Shop 48 next month, and the facility is expected to be operational in September.

The company in May received approximately $6 million in economic development incentives, which together with insurance proceeds from the tornado losses and "millions of dollars" from Vermeer is being invested into the facilities, said Andringa, who declined to enumerate a total investment in the project. The dollar value placed on the project in its application to the state was $118 million.

Remarkably — though somewhat confusing to explain — Vermeer’s production output today has actually increased over the level it was at just prior to the tornado, due to the work done to shift operations into other buildings.

"If you look back on [the day of the tornado], it was tragic for us in some ways," said Bill Blackorby, vice president of operations. "But now it’s kind of a new beginning for us. And it wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work and the dedication of our members." 

Editor's note: In the Daily e-newsletter sent out Friday, July 12, the name of the rendered building was incorrectly reported. We apologize for the error.