After nearly 55 years of operation, Vermeer Manufacturing, headquartered in the small farming community of Pella, Iowa, is still family owned and still successfully manufacturing and marketing an exceptionally wide range of products. The company's diverse product lines run from horizontal directional drills, vacuum/excavation systems, vibratory plows and immense rock trenchers, to tub grinders, tree spades, electronic mapping systems and hay balers.
Although founder Gary Vermeer has not invented every machine in the Vermeer range, he has, indeed, invented many of them, and his influence and entrepreneurial spirit stand behind others. A 1998 publication commemorating the company's 50th anniversary makes the point that Gary Vermeer's business philosophy has always been straightforward: Find a need, then fill that need with a product built to last.
That philosophy applied to the product that launched the company, a farm-wagon hoist that effortlessly tipped out big loads of grain—no shovels required. Gary Vermeer actually modified a grain wagon just to save his own back, but when neighboring farmers saw the chance to avoid muscle strain, Vermeer Manufacturing was born. The product that really placed the new company on the map, however, was developed the next year, 1949. It was the Pow-R-Drive, a power-takeoff system that could drive farm implements such as hammermills, corn shellers and irrigation pumps. Invention followed invention, a few of which we present here.
Gary Vermeer serves as chairman emeritus of Vermeer Manufacturing and continues to work his farm in Pella.