By Joe Dexter
May 13, 2019
On the first day of the job, Rockingham County Economic, Small Business and Tourism Director Leigh Cockram, was given notice that her office would be taking part in a prospect visit the next day.
Little did she know that some of her first hours on the clock, spent on preparing for the heavily classified visit, would help lead to a firm commitment from Pella Corporation just three months later.
After several visits, the well-respected window and door creator set its sights on investing $20 million locally, with the promise of turning an unoccupied building on Rockingham Drive into a new production and distribution center capable of handling their growth in the southeast.
In turn, the company is committed to creating 125 well-paying jobs almost immediately.
Already, the Iowa-based Corporation has posted Reidsville openings on their company website.
The positions include information technology, engineering, maintenance, finance, human resources, production and operation positions.
“This is an economic developer’s dream,” Cockram told RockinghamNow following Tuesday’s announcement. “To meet with someone in the beginning of February and to have an announcement now and then to know that they are actually going to hire people as soon as possible — with the goal of having manufacturing take place in October — that rarely happens.”
Ultimately, after also looking at other parts of the country, CEO Tim Yaggi told reporters Tuesday that Pella found Reidsville to be quite appealing and a great location from as a distribution gateway to southeastern customers.
On Tuesday, Cockram and several other local officials discussed the importance a local collaborative effort between several partnerships that played a role in helping give Pella all the information needed to make the right decision.
One of the biggest selling points was the area’s commitment to workforce development — a campaign that the county, municipal, education and community college sectors have all poured their heart and soul into.
Cockram said that it was workforce that was “absolutely top of mind” for Pella.
A statement backed up by Yaggi, who said his corporation believes in Rockingham County’s employment base.
“We think we will have a great quality workforce and that the community has similar values to Pella Corporation,” Yaggi said. “We take care of each other, we operate with team work and integrity and we think we will find that here amongst the workforce.”
Reece Pyrtle, chairman of the Rockingham County Board of Commissioners, called the announcement a “win for all.”
He said the announcement says a lot about the local community and the investment they made at the polls last May — approving a ¼ cent sales referendum aimed at providing revenue for workforce development initiatives at Rockingham County Community College.
“This (announcement) is going to be part of the end product,” Pyrtle said. “We are going to have people looking at Rockingham County, saying that their community is making an investment into tomorrow and we want to be part of tomorrow.”
Reidsville Mayor Jay Donecker welcomed Pella to Team Reidsville on Tuesday. He said that Rockingham County has proven to be a great place for corporations to do well, with a team of people that works together.
“We have added over 950 jobs in the last three years in Reidsville,” Donecker said.
As far as fit, Reidsville Industrial Alliance President Steve Scott told RockinghamNow that the incredibly well respected national corporation is widely known for its strong corporate engagement with local citizenry.
He said that a company of Pella’s stature will benefit the community tremendously.
“We are actively encouraging corporate involvement in Reidsville and Pella will fit in perfectly from that standpoint,” Scott said. “They intentionally choose to make an impact. That matters. It is what we want Reidsville to be known for; active, engaged, corporate leadership.”
Scott said that the Pella announcement is further proof the impact that Love’s has made on the economic front, in the very short time it has been open.
He cited the recent investments that Pella, and fellow companies Sanritsu, Albaad and Speedline LLC have made in the vicinity of the travel stop.
“These companies are investing enormous sums of money here while creating nearly 500 jobs,” Scott said. “These types of companies must have Industrial infrastructure in place before they can consider a community. Love’s Travel provides our industrial community the means to easily and efficiently ship and receive goods. Transportation companies want to run trucks into our community because they have a place to stage before or after loading and unloading. For Reidsville to grow, this issue had to be addressed. It was addressed. The results are coming in and we are seeing huge returns in Reidsville.”
Scott said that Pella choosing Reidsville for its new southeastern hub will further help the Reidsville community to continue fight off misnomers surrounding the local industrial climate.
“The common narrative of negativity, that is far too often spread throughout the region with no regards to facts, about our community, can be defeating.” “The true reality is that the City of Reidsville is working incredibly hard to create a terrific industrial climate. This climate is one of aggressive community engagement and growth,” said Scott.
The President of longtime local metal distributor Tri-State Steel, said he gets phone calls regularly from outsiders wanting to come Reidsville.
He added that he firmly believes the current climate is attractive to outsiders wanting to come here.
“…Reidsville is winning and shows no signs of growing tired of winning,” Scott said. “This is a community accustomed to championships and we are carrying that pride into the industrial climate here.”
As for the county as a whole, officials also shared some words for potential industry and business partners, looking for a new home.
For Chairman Prytle, the dedication of Rockingham County citizens and their leadership, is a huge selling point to potential clients.
He used strong recent improvements in workforce development, beautification and quality of life components as prime examples.
For Cockram, the message is simple.
Come and be a part of something special.
“This is just the beginning of many announcements,” Cockram said. “If you haven’t seen the infrastructure that is being implemented or being put into place in Rockingham County from the Northern Guilford Area with interstate infrastructure — you’re missing out. What it does is provide us with the ability to be a suburb of a larger city, so you can come to Rockingham County where there is a lower cost of doing business and a labor force that is ready to go.”