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Community Focus: Pella, Iowa


When looking to move to a new place, one begins to ask questions about the community: Will I like it? Will my family like it? Will it improve my life? This month, we will look at the Corporate headquarters of Vermeer Corporation, Pella, Iowa. Located just an hour east of Des Moines, Pella is a quaint town of 10,000 people in central Iowa. One of the first things you may notice is the multitude of windmills and the cleanliness of the streets, but there is much more than that in this community.

John Papendick, business intelligence manager within the Vermeer IT Department, moved from the East Coast after joining Vermeer in 2008. “Initially we were drawn to Iowa because it was ranked as one of the best places in the country to raise a family. After researching companies in the area, Vermeer stood out because of its 4P Philosophy and focus on biblical principles,” said Papendick. Moving from a large populated area to a small town would seem like a difficult transition to most, but the Pella and Vermeer community made the shift easier.

“Pella has got to be one of the best small communities in Iowa - all the amenities are here, the school system is great, the people are friendly, there is no “real” traffic to contend with except the occasional combine that can tie things up for a few minutes, you’re 45 minutes from Des Moines shopping and events, and it’s truly a great place to raise kids,” said Papendick.

For those with a family, the community offers one of the best school districts in the state. With three young children starting to go to school, education was important to Papendick when looking for a place to move to. “I am married with 3 kids who are in the Pella public school system. With each of them shooting for perfect attendance I can actually say they really enjoy it!” said Papendick. His children are involved in many activities in and outside of school, including soccer and Cub Scouts.

Being a small town, there aren’t always the conveniences of a big city, especially for the younger crowd. However, there are a some good restaurants, bars, stores and a movie theater in town; and if you are seeking a city, Des Moines is only 45 minutes away. Des Moines has multiple malls and a nice downtown area, ideal for the younger crowd. It may not be quite as big as Chicago or New York, but never having to deal with horrible traffic is a pretty good trade-off.

Kiel Johnson recently graduated from Iowa State University and obtained a job as a manufacturing engineer at Vermeer in January. While he hasn’t lived in Pella for a long time, he is finding things about the town he already likes.

“Everything so far related to the city and Vermeer has been going well.  I am enjoying the small-town atmosphere and the town and its people, work and non-work related, have been very welcoming,” said Johnson. “I’m finding that I share similar interests and hobbies with most people in the area, making meeting new people fairly easy.”
Through Positively Pella, associated with the Pella Chamber of Commerce, there is a group called Young Professionals of Pella (YP) for the younger adults in the area. They meet every third Thursday of each month to get to know each other and the event usually includes free appetizers, drink specials and door prizes, which takes place at a different location in town every month. YP also has a volleyball and softball team for their members to join, which is free. To learn more, visit

There are plenty of activities for families and young adults to enjoy in Pella alike, such as the Farmers Market and Thursday Nights in Pella, both of which occur during the summer. Thursday Nights have a different theme every week, including Ag in the City, Racing (connected with Knoxville Raceway, about 20 minutes away) and Animal Night. With Red Rock Lake only about three miles outside of town, the activities are endless for the outdoors type, or anyone who likes to have a place to sunbathe, as there are two beaches along the lake. Not to mention the infamous Tulip Time, which occurs the first weekend in May. To see a complete list of what there is to do in Pella, and to just learn more about the town, visit

Vermeer as a company sets very high standards for the way employees are treated. While many companies may say they practice something along the lines of the 4P Philosophy, Vermeer actually brings it to life.

“Being a private company, the culture is not typical of what you might find in a public corporation; it’s much more personable and you are truly valued as an employee,” said Papendick. “I think past economic conditions really have shown how far Vermeer will go for its employees. While other manufacturers were forced to reduce headcount, Vermeer was committed to making it through without eliminating a single job. Not many companies can say that - I’m glad I work for a company that can.”

If you are currently looking for a new job, consider Vermeer and moving to the Pella community. Small towns may not be for everyone, but Pella is definitely a place that someone can easily grow to love, and it may just surprise you.

“I don’t think you are going to find a better quality of life anywhere else. This is not like larger cities with the pressures and stresses that come with it; and with a company like Vermeer you have the same career opportunities so it’s a win - win situation.,” said Papendick.