Pella Chronicle

November 23, 2011

Pella Corp dealing with 70 percent decline in home construction

By Steve Woodhouse
Operations Manager Lake Red Rock

Pella — Since its peak in 2006, single-family home construction has declined 70 percent, which has forced window manufacturer and major Marion County employer Pella Corporation to make necessary adjustments.

Last week, the company cut its workforce in Pella, and other parts of the country, by 198 employees. In 2006, the company employed 10,000. As of Nov. 17, the company employs approximately 7,100.

“With the dramatic decline in new home construction since 2006, and the prolonged housing recession, we’ve had to align our workforce size with business needs,” Pella Corporation’s Corporate Public Relations Manager Kathy Krafka-Harkema replied via email. Krafka-Harkema went on to say that reducing the workforce is a last resort for the company, and it has sought creative ways to keep people employed.

“We’ve used the LOA or leave of absence program for many years to deal with the seasonality of the construction business that typically slows during the winter season. Under the LOA program, our team members can take unpaid time off, and then return to work as construction activity increases in the spring,” Krafka-Harkema said. “Also, we’ve used furloughs from time-to-time. With the furloughs, team members are scheduled for several weeks of work at a time, with a week or two off without pay, yet their benefits remain in place. That approach allows us to help keep as many people as possible at work and their benefits in place.”

Krafka-Harkema went on to say that Pella Corporation has sought new ways to improve energy efficiency, to reduce associated energy costs. The company continually seeks new ways to eliminate waste, which also provides benefits to customers. Sometimes, these steps and savings are just not enough.

“Pella considers workforce reductions as a last resort and unfortunately, due to the continued housing recession, it was necessary to reduce our workforce by 198 people.  Pella is committed to partnering with state agencies to assist team members in the search for new careers,” Krafka-Harkema said. “We’re also asking area employers who are seeking new employees to contact us with information they have about available jobs. We’re sharing that information with displaced team members for their consideration. Area employers can call 641-621-1000 or e-mail and direct that information to the Human Resources team.”

Krafka-Harkema said the company is proud to be headquartered in Pella and providing careers for Marion County and the surrounding area. As for the company’s long-term stability, Krafka-Harkema remains positive.

“We’ve been in business since 1925, which means as a business, we’ve weathered tough times in the economy before, like the Great Depression, the war years and the 80s,” she said. “As a family-owned, privately-held company, we are financially-strong and confident that we will continue to serve future generations.”