PELLA — Corporate, city and state representatives got their shoes dirty as they broke ground for the development of Lely Park, Lely North America’s new corporate headquarters.
An official ground-breaking ceremony was held Thursday with Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg, Senator Ken Rozenboom, Mayor Don DeWaard, Lely North America President Chad Huyser, city officials and over 50 Lely employees in attendance.
The corporation is a world leader in robotic milking systems, offering services in more than 40 countries. Out of the corporation’s 1,300 employees, 55 are currently employed in Pella. The new headquarters will bring 15 new jobs to the area, along with a Dutch tradition of agricultural innovation.
A history of Dutch innovation
In 1948, brothers Arij and Cornelius van der Lely were looking to improve their lives and their community after World War II in the Netherlands. Together, Arij and Cornelius developed the finger wheel rake.
“Farmers are the true and original innovators, because out of need or necessity, oftentimes they find a new idea, and they look at it as an opportunity,” says Huyser. “That’s exactly what the van der Lely brothers found in 1948.”
In the early 1990s, the van der Lely brothers introduced the first fully-automated milking machine. Farmers were skeptical at first, but with the help of Vermeer Corporation, Lely expanded from the Netherlands to Pella in 2004. What started as a three-person operation has now grown into a prime location for Lely’s North American headquarters.
“These things simply don’t happen unless you do things the right way,” says Mark Core, Vermeer Corporation’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer. “Agriculture needs companies like Lely and Vermeer to make their life better so we can ultimately make a growing world a better place.”
A future in agricultural sustainability
Doug and Carol DeJong provided the 65 acre site near Highway 163 and 250th Place for the new campus. A facility will include world-class training, manufacturing and office space. More importantly, the campus will include water remediation retention areas to improve water quality, replanting of native Iowa prairie grasses and plants, walking trails, sustainable energy and other renewable resources.
“If we accomplish our goals, we believe that we will provide that same connection between both physical structure and the natural landscape around us,” says Huyser. “This is where the name ‘Lely Park’ originated from.”
The corporation has partnered with the City of Pella and the State of Iowa for the development, which is estimated to cost $16 million. Lt. Gov. Gregg says the new headquarters is a strong representation of Empower Rural Iowa, an initiative to connect, grow and invest in rural Iowa.
“We’re so proud to have a company like Lely here in the state of Iowa and to see it expand and grow and to know there’s even more opportunities coming in the future,” says Gregg.
Lely Park is slated for completion in early 2022.
“This is a tremendous and exciting project for Pella,” says Mayor DeWaard. “It’s one more great company here in Pella, and we think it’s a great fit for our community.”