Window, door firm may hire up to 450
Pella is buying former home of Weiser Lock
ARIZONA DAILY STAR
Manufactures windows and doors
$1.1 billion annually (industry estimate)
About 9,000 in Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio, Oregon, Minnesota and Pennsylvania; another 7,000 people sell Pella products through the company’s direct sales network.
Founded in Des Moines, Iowa, as Rolscreen Co. in 1925; moved to owner’s hometown, Pella, a year later. Changed name to Pella Corp. in 1991.
Privately held by descendants of founder Pete Kuyper.
Iowa-based Pella Corp. announced Thursday it will open a manufacturing plant in Tucson that will eventually employ about 450 people making vinyl doors and windows.
The 80-year-old, privately held company is buying the former Weiser Lock building, currently known as the Aero Business Center, near West Valencia and South Midvale Park roads on the Southwest Side.
Pella will begin hiring “almost immediately” and hopes to be producing its ThermaStar by Pella doors and windows here in early 2006, said spokeswoman Kathy Krafka Harkema.
Job seekers can start applying for positions Monday through the Pima County One Stop Career Center’s Kino Service Center at 2797 E. Ajo Way. For more information, call the center at 243-6700.
“These are high-quality manufacturing jobs, and we’ll be hiring the majority of our positions here,” Krafka Harkema said.
She declined to specify the pay scale.
Manufacturing jobs are the gold standard in economic development, said Marshall Vest, director of economic and business research at the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management.
“Manufacturing companies make products that we sell outside the region, which allows dollars to flow into the community and the community to gain wealth,” Vest said.
“Bigger than Google”
To break the well-kept secret of the company’s identity, a dozen Pella employees peeled nametags off their yellow golf shirts, revealing the Pella logo at a press conference hosted by Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities Inc., known as TREO, at the Arizona Inn, 2200 E. Elm St.
“This is a really big deal,” Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup told the crowd of about 200 people. “This is even bigger than Google.”
He was referring to the Internet search engine’s Oct. 12 announcement that it will hire about 600 people to work in new offices in the Phoenix area.
Pella officials declined to say how many people the company would initially hire, but a similar plant that opened about a year ago in Columbia, S.C., already has more than 235 employees, said Mark Hinkie, president and chief operating officer of Pella’s vinyl division products.
Unlike incentive-laden deals that lured companies like Slim-Fast Foods to Tucson, Pella comes with no strings attached, said TREO’s Kendall Bert.
“The resources we used to deliver Pella are all the same resources we’re using to grow and retain local companies that are here right now,” said Bert, formerly the city of Tucson’s director of economic development.
Pella’s decision shows that the Tucson area is poised to become an “economic juggernaut,” said Joe Snell, TREO’s president and CEO.
Partnership with Lowe’s
The company already has four similar plants producing vinyl windows and doors, but exponential growth prompted Pella to seek a Southwestern plant, said Billy Legate, who will be the local plant manager.
“We have a great business partnership with Lowe’s that we’ve rolled out across the nation with them, and a large part of our growth has come through that,” Legate said .
Pella’s site selection team chose Tucson from among several candidates in the region, said Steve Van Weelden, a senior project engineer with Pella.
“All I can say is this was a multistate, multicity selection process that was very exhaustive,” he said. “This is the right company choosing the right community at the right time.”
Pella plans to purchase the 270,000-square-foot building and property at 6700 S. Weiser Lock Drive, Krafka Harkema said.
Weiser Lock came to Tucson in 1990 and moved its headquarters here in 1993. By 1999, employment had reached 1,100, but a year later the company began moving its manufacturing jobs to Nogales, Sonora. Black & Decker bought Weiser Lock from its parent company, Masco Corp., in 2003 and left Tucson, taking the company’s remaining 150 jobs.
Based on estimated 2004 sales volume of about $1.1 billion, Pella ranked fourth in Window & Door magazine’s 2005 top 100 list of window and door manufacturers.
Contact reporter Thomas Stauffer at 573-4197 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. ? Star reporter David Wichner contributed to this report.