In 1925, Peter and Lucille Kuyper invested in a small Des Moines, Iowa company that manufactured window screens which went by the brand name, “Rolscreen”. They apparently took complete control of the company shortly thereafter, because in 1926 they moved the company to their hometown, Pella, Iowa, a small community in central Iowa, about 30 miles south east of Des Moines, founded by Dutch settlers, in the mid nineteenth century. The “Rolscreen” window screen was in demand in the mid western states because of the hot and often humid weather conditions in the summer time. The Kuypers managed the company well, and in 1929, they were able to double the plant size for the manufacture of the window screens.
In 1934, in the tenth year of their ownership of the company, they introduced a second product, the Pella Venetian blind. Also in that year, the company significantly expanded its marketing reach, and established sales offices in 24 American cities and in 15 foreign countries. Consider that all this happened when the country was mired in an economic depression.
In 1937, Pella produced its first window unit. It consisted of a steel-framed casement with wood interior, divided window panes, exterior wash feature and a removable insulating glass panel. The window unit was named the “Deluxe Casement Window”, and it and its offshoots became the focus of future Pella products. During the war years, from 1941 to 1945, Pella became a big supplier to the building and expansion of war time manufacturing facilities and other military-related installations.
Following the war years, especially in the late forties, a lumber shortage occurred, and Pella Corporation temporarily developed and built its own lumber mill. At that time the post war housing boom had started and there was a tremendous demand for the window-related products Pella produced.
In 1960, Pella developed another major new product, the sliding glass door. It became a standard product in new housing and remains so to this day. The Pella Corporation continued the production of its products for the housing market, serving both the new housing market as well as the housing maintenance and remodeling market. By 1991, the Pella Corporation had grown from two plants to ten plants along with 75 sales and service offices. Along the way new and modified products were introduced.
Along the way, the original founder, Peter Kuyper, turned the management of the company over to his daughter Joan Kuyper Farver. As of this writing, 2007, Joan Kuyper Farver is Chair Emeritus of the Pella Corporation, and the day to day management of the company has been turned over to Melvin Haught, the current CEO. Ownership of the Pella Corporation has, however, remained in the hands of the Kuyper family, consisting of the children and grandchildren of the founders, Peter and Lucille Kuyper.
The Pella Corporation’s annual revenues are estimated to be around 1.5 billion dollars. The company employs about 10,000 people directly, and another 3 to 4 thousand people in its over 350 window stores in the United States. Pella’s products are also sold by such major retailing chains as Lowe’s.
In May 2007, Joan Kuyper Farver, Chair Emeritus of the Pella Corporation, was named a recipient of the prestigious national Ellis Island Medal of Honor in recognition of her Dutch heritage and her outstanding contributions to American society. The honor is bestowed on individuals who exhibit dedication to community service, the preservation of their respective heritage, dedication to America and the building of bridges between cultures, and the sharing of their personal and professional gifts for the benefit of humanity.
Hoovers, Pella Corporation, http://premium.hoovers.com/subscribe/co/factsheet.xhtml?ID=42264 (link no longer active)
Pella Corporation, http://www.brandchannel.com/features_profile.asp?pr_id=173
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