That’s a gamble that Pella, the $2 billion-a-year window and door maker, is making as it upgrades its facilities — including a child care center — to match what it thinks today’s job seekers really want.
Pella says it will take time to increase its local workforce. Currently, about 2,550 people work for the company in the town, but only about 640 live there. The others live and commute in from neighboring Iowa communities.
“We can make an investment now knowing that the payback may not be next quarter and maybe in a few years,” says Mr. Yaggi, whose company employs roughly 10,000 workers across 14 states.
Pella executives say the company tried more traditional solutions to boost its ranks. It raised pay, automated some tasks in factory work to widen the appeal, and doubled down on recruiting from the local high school and college—but with limited success. Tapping a larger labor pool isn’t easy. Some candidates relocating may fret about adjusting to life in an overwhelmingly white town with more than two dozen churches and two bars, they say.
“We can bring in all the amazing talent from across the country, but if they get here, and they don’t see themselves reflected in the community, they don’t feel at home,” says Nicolle Picray, a company spokeswoman.
Absent interventions from Pella, Andrew Kreifels says he wouldn’t have joined the company. Mr. Kreifels moved here with his wife and two children from suburban Detroit earlier this year to run Pella’s strategy and business development team.
After rounds of interviews, problems kept surfacing. He couldn’t secure spots in local child-care centers, ending up on wait lists instead. Options for local housing were limited, he says, and the idea of at least a 45-minute commute to the office from Des Moines wasn’t appealing.
“If you’ve got a dual-career household, of your top 10 priorities, the first five are child care,” says Mr. Kreifels. “I vividly remember saying to my now-manager, ‘It’s just too much, I don’t think we can do it.’”
The 10,000-person town is only 44 miles from Des Moines (282 miles, Minneapolis; 315 miles, Chicago) so it’s not the middle of nowhere, depending on how you define middle of nowhere.