Forty-Five Years Strong
Pella Team Member Shares Career Story
Sherry Braafhart’s Pella story spans decades and generations. As a soon-to-be wed high-school graduate, she chose a job in the Rolscreen Foundation’s Traffic Department (now known as Logistics) over two other job offers.
“My mother worked on the Double-Hung line, so I knew it was a great place to work. Even when the weeks were long in the summer, she was Pella’s number-one cheerleader,” Sherry said. Her mother started working at Pella to pay for Sherry’s wedding, but she ended up staying long after the event had come and gone—25 years!
The apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Like her mother, Sherry extended her Pella career far beyond the three years she initially told a fellow team member she planned to work. “I wanted to be able to help pay for my kids’ college,” Sherry remembered. That was 45 years ago this June.
Sherry felt connected with the company from the day she started and was introduced to Pella CEO and founder, Pete Kuyper. “I was so nervous,” she recalled. “But Pete greeted me by name. As I left his office, I knew I had made the right decision in working for Pella. Pete made me feel I was part of a team and told me what an important role I had within the company. And whatever I have done since then at Pella, I have felt that.”
In her long career, Sherry has done everything from literally running bills of lading to the train depot (“We used to send a lot of sawdust out by rail, and when I heard that train whistle, I typed faster!”) to typing up programming code for the IT department (“This was before each team member had computers; they handwrote the code!”). Today, as a corporate training department administrative assistant, Sherry is the welcoming face and voice for visiting sales reps, helping to arrange the details of their training programs and making sure they have what they need to keep up with their day-to-day demands while on-site at headquarters.
But perhaps Sherry’s clearest affirmation that she was with a company that valued her as a person came during one of the most difficult times in her life. Her husband, Rodger, suffered a stroke four years ago and is currently in long-term care. At the time, Rodger was a project leader in the Manufacturing and Engineering Services Department. “I suddenly went from living my life focused on my job to being focused on my family—and all my co-workers were there to support me,” Sherry recalled. The Pella team made donations to help with medical expenses, and Rodger’s co-workers had a bake sale and lunch fundraiser. They sent a huge, signed get-well card, which Charlie Farver, former Pella Corporation Board Chairman, also added his signature to. “It meant so much to Rodger,” said Sherry.
When it came to building their home, they knew exactly where to buy their new windows: “We built our house with Pella® Double-Hung windows—they have such a special place in my heart because my mom helped build them when she worked in the plant.”
Sherry’s story is just one example among many demonstrations of true Pella Passion and going beyond what meets the eye.