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Windows and Doors for America, Manufactured in Iowa

February 3, 2023

There’s truly no place like home. And for nearly 100 years, Iowa’s own Pella Corporation has been transforming the windows and doors that adorn our homes from inconspicuous to inspired. As we continue exploring the broad impact that Iowa-based companies have around the world, we connected with Nicolle Picray, Pella’s senior manager of public relations, for a closer look at this storied company’s origins and how Iowa’s business climate and workforce helped transform the company from local legend to national powerhouse.

Q: Pella’s roots originate in Iowa. As the company has grown over the years, how has Iowa’s business climate and initiatives helped the company evolve to meet consumer demand?

Nicole Picray (NP): Pella was founded in 1925 in Pella, Iowa, and the state’s business climate has been historically conducive to our growth and evolution through a variety of incentive programs. For example, financial assistance from the Iowa Economic Development Authority in 2021 enabled Pella to shift production of our wood windows from our plant in Macomb, Ill., to our facility in Shenandoah, Iowa. In adding the new production lines, we then invested an additional $5.6 million in the Shenandoah plant and added 120 workers, thereby increasing the plant’s workforce to about 550 people. Creating great jobs in the communities where we operate was the main motivation of our founder, Pete Kuyper, and with four plants and nearly 4,000 team members in Iowa, we’ve been able to give back to a state that has invested in our success over the years.

Q: What’s unique about Pella’s offerings and business culture?

NP: Thanks to our passion for innovation and the legendary work ethic that’s one of Iowa’s hallmarks, we’ve secured nearly a dozen innovation awards in 2021 and 2022 for features found on our window products. Equally as important, we’ve also been recognized by Forbes as the Best Employer in the State of Iowa for 2022. Our differentiators as an employer – outstanding benefits, growth and development opportunities, flexibility and more – enable us to attract and retain talent in all four of our manufacturing facilities across Iowa.

Q: What are some of the perks of operating and manufacturing products in Iowa?

NP: The talent pool in Iowa continues to be a strong advantage to our business. Iowa’s transportation infrastructure and geographic location also allow us to quickly fulfill orders for our customers. 

Q: Where are some of the interesting places that Pella exports its products? Do any interesting anecdotes stand out?

NP: Our distribution is predominantly domestic, and for good reason as the U.S. housing market remains strong for single family households and fixer uppers. And because of the breadth and depth of our product offerings, we’re able to design and build windows and doors that stand up to severe conditions – including hurricanes, extreme temperatures, variances in elevation and more. In fact, we heard from customers who were in the path of Hurricane Sandy and Hurricane Ivan that their Pella windows and patio doors endured the extreme winds and flooding, protecting their home from extensive interior damage.

Q: How has the company grown over time? What new processes or advancements have helped the company from a manufacturing standpoint? 

NP: Since our inception 98 years ago, we’ve seen significant process improvements in our manufacturing facilities through advancements in robotics, voice-to-pick technology, 3D printing and more. On the sales side, there have been fantastic partnerships to help attract the next generation of talent. We’ve partnered with Iowa State University’s (ISU) Ivy Sales Forum to give students hands-on experience with sales projects. Many of our engineering, manufacturing, IT and operations team members are ISU or University of Iowa alumni, and their education in current manufacturing technology has been quite impactful. 

Q: What, if anything, do your customers say about the company’s Iowa roots?

NP: We do more than 75 VIP customer trips to our Pella, Iowa, facility every year, and often these guests are custom home builders and architects from major metropolitan areas of the country. They are always impressed with the sophistication of our operation and our team’s “Iowa Nice” approach to business. While many manufacturers have sought bigger markets for their operations, we’ve seen our commitment to remaining in Iowa pay dividends in our culture of caring and the quality of our products.