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'Business as Usual' byword at Efco Corp.

Post Time:Nov 12,2013Classify:Industry NewsView:131

Story reprinted with permission from The Monett-Timesin Monett, Mo. --By Murray Bishoff, managing editor

“Seamless transition” is a term Kathy Harkema, corporate spokesperson for the Pella Corporation, uses frequently in talking about Pella’s acquisition of Efco Corporation in Monett. Harkema has spent much of the past week in Monett. As she observed, it’s “business as usual” in Monett’s factories. The “marriage” between Pella and Efco, now known as “Efco, a Pella company”, is being viewed as a natural and comfortable process. It’s still early in the relationship, but what seems evident is Pella does not appear to be out to shake things up in Monett. In fact, Harkema talks about Efco in terms similar to a suitor at a dance. Efco had long been respected for its “tradition of innovation” and quality products. Now, when the two have come together, she viewed as “as historic time for Efco and Pella.” What is apparent from Harkema’s observations is the value Pella places on Efco in bringing aluminum products of a high range and quality to the Pella family. She listened with interest on the factory floor as Jerry Burks, department manager in the double hung assembly division, showed her a line of products being made for the Pentagon, the first time Efco has filled an order for that national landmark. Burks pointed out a special feature in the large multi-pane panels for the Pentagon. On the bottom of several sections of glass, the image of a fireman’s helmet had been added to the glass. These were the panels, Burks noted, that could be broken out to provide access. Thus a specified strategy was being built into the product, while the remaining glass could prove much harder to enter. Custom work is standard fare in Efco products. Nor was this the first high profile order for Efco. Burks observed the company has made windows for the Empire State Building, the World Trade Center in New York, and for years has filled orders for Trump Properties. It’s no longer unusual seeing an order to go in one of Donald Trump’s buildings in the factory, so much so that Burks doesn’t track back to see where that set of windows will end up. “They could go anywhere,” he added. Efco’s main plant is a big deal in Pella’s family. Harkema observed Pella’s main facility in Pella, Iowa, employs 4,000 people. Beyond that, however, the many production facilities in the Pella family generally employ between 250 and 500. That makes the Monett operation the second largest in the Pella family. Questions about management changes still loom in the emerging relationship. Harkema stressed Pella wants Efco to remain strong, and to continue offering its customers what they are used to seeing. For example, Rob Jones will continue as operations manager. Mark Kaiser will still be vice president in charge of sales, marketing, and customer service. Larry Eden will remain the chief information officer. The field representatives will stay in place. It was still early for answering other questions. Harkema indicated who will step in as chief executive officer had not yet been determined. That fit with earlier indications that there was no fixed time set for retiring CEO Chris Fuldner’s departure. Efforts to develop synergy between the Efco part of the family and Pella were developing. There were plans for Efco people to tour different Pella operations “to get to know different family members.” Harkema suggested there was a desire to learn from each other that would help enhance the relationship between the companies as it progressed. “There’s a tremendous pride here [in Monett],” Harkema observed, “a tradition of building quality products we hope can continue for generations to come.” Part of that can be seen in Efco’s work force. Burks observed that of the 102 people working under him, 15 to 20 will have been there over 15 years. Over half will have been in their jobs for at least five years. Harkema noted that includes both men and women, working shoulder to shoulder on the line. Longevity like that, she commented, “speaks well of any employer. The community is proud of its manufacturing base. Pella is proud to carry on that tradition.” Harkema especially stressed that the 1,600 jobs in Monett were going to continue, including all three shifts. Pella had every interest in seeing Efco, its brand name and product line, grow with time, as it would have done on its own. The “marriage” offers even more opportunities, for the company, and careers within the company, she added. Pella has for many years maintained a commitment to community outreach and charitable work, linking to its communities. Supporting diabetes research has been a big priority, and the company has participated in 17 projects with ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition show. In fact, Harkema personally participated on Pella’s team that added to Camp Barnabas two years ago. She implied Pella will not be pulling Efco back from being an active part of the Monett community. So far, the reception to the new owners appears to be going well. Pella officials went through the Efco offices while they were in town last week, greeting staff and introducing themselves. “They were very nice,” a staff member told The Times. “You can see the smiles on people’s faces, going through the plant,” Harkema said. Moreover, she recalled walking around town, wearing her Pella shirt, and being stopped by people who have simply said, “Thank you for coming.” Harkema stressed the similarity between Pella and Efco as family owned, small-town-based, Midwestern companies would be?come progressively more evident, making the marriage work. “It’s an exciting time to be here,” she added.Share this article:

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