Vermeer Corp. was in the path of a tornado at 4 p.m. Thursday, July 19. In addition to employees who were working at the plant in Pella, Iowa, more than 400 dealers and customers were onsite for the 2018 Customer Conference and to celebrate the company’s 70th anniversary. Employees, dealers and customers were guided to several tornado shelters on the campus as the storm approached, but seven people were hospitalized at Pella Regional Health Center. They have been released.
“There is significant structural damage and property damage across the campus,” said Jason Andringa, Vermeer CEO.
“Plant 4, Plant 7 and our advanced system testing facility will need a structural assessment before we can determine the impact of the damage and the ability to continue operations,” Andringa said. “Plant 5 and Plant 6 both have significant damage that we believe at this time will limit our ability to continue operations. Our waste management facility is a complete loss.”
The corporate office, Plant 1, Plant 2, Plant 3, Parts Distribution Center, Global Pavilion, Lely and Yellow Iron Academy Learning Center reportedly have zero to minor damage.
All operations at the facility were closed the night of July 19 and all operations, office and production were closed Friday, July 20. Team members, dealers, customers and community members have been asked to refrain from visiting the campus until further notice.
“We had 400 dealers and customers here to celebrate our 70th anniversary, and we have dealt with lots of challenges in seven decades of doing business,” said Andringa. “This is a new major one, as we have survived and thrived after every challenge thus far, we plan to do so again.”