Future of Lennox looms as employees await decision

T-R File Photo Debris litters the Lennox campus following a tornado that ripped through Marshalltown on July 20.

With 900 employees, some Lennox workers are worried about the future of the Marshalltown location after it was all but destroyed by Thursday’s tornado. There has been no official word about recovery, which has left some afraid that the company will not rebuild the location.

“We are still in process of assessing the damage that occurred during the tornado and moving through that process,” Phil Gee, Lennox spokesperson told the T-R on Saturday evening.

Gee said he could not comment on speculation about whether they would choose to not rebuild.

Some Lennox employees went to the local UAW, Post 893, in Marshalltown to pick up paychecks Saturday. The UAW leaders said they’ve been in contact with Lennox since the tornado hit Thursday and they are working to help Lennox and all UAW members.

Robert Silver, who has been a member of the UAW for eight years and is a Lennox employee, gave a personal statement to the T-R.

“The company and UAW have had good faith cooperation since the tornado,” he said.

In a news release Saturday the company said, “We continue to assess the state of the facility and determine next steps. Safety remains our number one priority. As communicated previously, employees should not visit the facility until further notice. We appreciate your patience while we determine next steps.”

To support our employees in the immediate term, Lennox will pay all active employees (standard 40-hour work week) through the week ending July 28, 2018.”

Lennox Chairman and CEO Todd Bluedorn has not spoken to press but issued a news release on Friday.

“After employees, customers are our second priority,” Bluedorn said. “An advantage of owning our own distribution company is we have more than a 40-day supply of equipment in more than 255 distribution centers to meet our customer’s needs. Additionally, 75 percent of our North American residential heating and air-conditioning equipment is made in Mexico and South Carolina. Teams in those locations are at the ready to support the Marshalltown recovery. Since the company’s founding in Marshalltown 123 years ago, the Lennox team has worked together and support each other.”

Senior Human Resources Director Dana Rasmussen of Marshalltown said local officials were grateful no Lennox employee was injured, and referred other questions to corporate public relations.

One Lennox employee, who did not want to be identified, said they were fearful that the company would not rebuild in Marshalltown. They said their family would suffer without the income, especially with one family member’s costs due to a medical condition.

Silver said there will need to be solidarity to rebuild between the community, employees and the company.

Pella’s Vermeer, manufacturer of industrial and agriculture equipment, was also impacted by a tornado and quickly announced plans for rebuilding. On Friday, they pledged to build bigger and better.