Pella — Not long after Sen. Tom Harkin visited Vermeer in Pella, one of the people interested in succeeding him in office also paid a visit. Rep. Bruce Braley was at the facility on Oct. 31.
Vermeer CEO Mary Andringa opened the visit by welcoming Braley and sharing some of the company's history. She shared the importance the company places on continuous improvement and showing respect for everyone associated with the company.
One of the ways Vermeer has been working to improve its operations begins with its people. The company's wellness program includes an on-site health center and pharmacy. As a result of its proactive approach to the health of its employees, Vermeer has seen increases in premiums that are lower than the market average. Last year, the company saved $2 million in health care costs. $1 million has been saved through the company's pharmaceutical partnership with Walgreens.
Since 2009, the percentage of Vermeer employees in the low-risk insurance group has increased to 56 percent. Company President Jason Andringa said that the availability of health care, including the clinic, is second only to salaries offered, among reasons why people choose to work for Vermeer.
Locally, Vermeer employs 2,400 and overall, the company employs 3,200. Braley was impressed with the number of people working in Pella and the economic impact the company has on southern Iowa.
In response to a question from Braley, Mary Andringa said the company trucks everything. The Highway 63 bypass has been helpful, but direct access to Interstate 80 would be beneficial. In addition to shipping products out, Vermeer's employee base expands to a 70-mile radius. Good roads are needed to get workers to the plant safely.
Braley went on to tour Vermeer's health care facility and one of the plants along the mile. Following the tours, he sat down with Vermeer leaders, who shared information regarding the company's products and markets.