Sixty years ago, Iowa farmer Gary Vermeer created a mechanical hoist to help expedite the process of unloading harvested crops from his grain wagons. Word of the invention quickly spread, spawning considerable interest among area farmers. Everybody wanted one. So the entrepreneurial-minded Vermeer enlisted the help of cousin Ralph Vermeer, constructed a modest cement block building to build more hoists and the two men went to work.

Today, Vermeer Corp. consists of eight manufacturing plants spanning some 110 acres that occupies more than 1.5 million sq ft of space located just outside of Pella, Iowa. The company will officially commemorate its 60th anniversary in November and is recognized as a global leader in forage, tree care, wood-waste processing, composting, compact and underground installation equipment. Currently, Vermeer employs more than 2,000 people and sells equipment in more than 60 countries.

Founder Gary Vermeer officially retired from day-to-day operations in 1989. His son, Bob, assumed the position of CEO, with daughter Mary becoming president and COO. Today the two share CEO responsibilities. Mary’s son, Jason Andringa, joined the company as environmental market segment manager in 2004 and was recently appointed managing director of Vermeer International, B.V., a manufacturing and distribution facility in Goes, the Netherlands. Bob’s daughter, Allison VanWyngarden, joined the company in 2007 as a dealer distribution manager.

“In addition to welcoming family members, we’re also very aware that we need to cultivate the many opportunities that exist in the company for all our employees,” Mary Vermeer-Andringa, president and CO-CEO. “We emphasize to everyone within the Vermeer ‘family’, related or not, that we welcome their contributions and want to provide them the opportunities to do the kinds of things that make their hearts sing.”

And that “family” stretches out beyond the company and into its community. Formed in 1958, the Vermeer Charitable Foundation serves to promote the quality of life for Vermeer employees and their communities through the gracious and unselfish act of giving. The goal of the foundation is to inspire Vermeer employees to use their skills and resources in providing assistance to people who are less fortunate or facing overwhelming burdens or challenges.

Vermeer routinely provides volunteers, and, in many cases, paid personnel and equipment to respond to various natural disaster situations such as tornadoes, ice storms and hurricanes.

In the 50 years since the Foundation has existed, hundreds of Vermeer employees have contributed countless hours of their time and financial resources to help those in need. When an F5 tornado devastated the community of Greensburg, Kan., in 2007, Vermeer sent teams of volunteer employees and equipment to assist in the cleanup efforts. After Hurricane Katrina, three teams of volunteers traveled to stricken areas up and down the Gulf Coast, along with Vermeer equipment, to lend assistance.

See Discussion, Leave A Comment