Vermeer Celebrates 60th Anniversary, History Of Innovation

By Jeff Griffin, Senior Editor | September 2008 Vol. 63 No. 9

In 1948, young inventor and entrepreneur Gary Vermeer founded a new company in a one room cement block building to produce a hoist device for lifting grain wagon boxes to make them easier to empty.

Today the Vermeer Corp. employs more than 2,000 people in the United States and overseas. The Pella, IA, headquarters and manufacturing facilities cover 110 of the 336 acres owned by the company. In addition, there are manufacturing facilities in Goes, The Netherlands, and Beijing, China.

Each month on average, 500 truckloads of equipment leave Vermeer plants for distribution throughout the world.

Vermeer still produces agricultural equipment, but over the years has expanded its line of equipment to include utility construction, energy pipeline, landscape and environmental markets.

In a time of acquisitions and consolidations, often resulting in corporate conglomerates whose management may know little of the customers they serve, Vermeer remains a family owned company. Gary Vermeer retired in 1989 and remains chairman emeritus of the company's board of directors.

Current leadership

The company is led today by Gary Vermeer's son and daughter: Bob Vermeer, chairman of the board and co chief executive officer (CEO); and Mary Vermeer Andringa, president and co CEO. Jason Andringa, son of Mary and Dale Andringa, is manager of the Vermeer Goes manufacturing and distribution facility in The Netherlands. Allison Van Wyngarden, daughter of Bob and Lois Vermeer, is an industrial distribution manager for Vermeer in Pella.

Throughout 2008, company employees and the dealer personnel who sell and service Vermeer products are quietly celebrating the organization's 60th anniversary.

"It has been a great journey," reflects Mary Vermeer Andringa. "Our dad was truly a visionary when he founded the company 60-years ago. He had a tremendous entrepreneurial spirit and keen business sense. His principle was simple – find a need and fill that need with a product built to last, and simply build the best. That idea has been the guiding force of our company since then. Our people take pride in what we build, and that pride is reflective in every piece of equipment that rolls off the line. We believe that the products we build, along with the strength of our dealership network, set us apart from the competition."

In utility markets, Vermeer is best known for its trenchers, vibratory plows and horizontal directional drilling equipment.