When Bob Vermeer and Mary (Vermeer) Andringa speak of their father,his innovative spirit highlights the conversation. The second generation leads the Pella, IA-based Vermeer Manufacturing today as they navigate today’s business environment, which they say all market drivers relate to energy--whether its industrial drills for pipelines, environmental equipment for biomass processing or forage products for biomass harvesting.
In 1971, Gary Vermeer led his company to develop the big round baler, and the manufacturer continues to take that machine to the next level.
At its 60th anniversary celebration, Vermeer launched the new 604 and 605 Super M Balers.
For corn stalk baling, Vermeer took the Super M and added a powered windguard to improve residue flow into the baler. This component was invented by Minnesota custom baler, Eric Woodford (pictured).
Vermeer has set its sights on the opportunities presented in the emerging biomass market. Along with the baler designed for cornstalk collection, they have purchased a prototype cob caddy. Its design provides a one-pass grain and cob harvest because it tows behind the combine. Right now, the sole prototype is in Texas for testing. It’ll move up to the Corn Belt this fall.
Gary Vermeer traveled to Europe three years after starting his company, and this manufacturing company continues to grow its international business with dealerships in 51 countries. Those dealerships sell and support Vermeer’s industrial and environmental products (like the horizontal grinder pictured below). Earlier this year, Vermeer entered into a joint venture with Lely
to purchase Welger balers
. This business deal will open the door for Vermeer’s ag line in both development and distribution. (they currently distribute Lely’s mechanical milker here in the U.S.)
Vermeer has offices in the Netherlands and Singapore, and they have manufacturing for industrial products in Beijing.
The company has been implementing lean manufacturing since 1997. In fact, they call it their lean journey. This journey has yielded great profit: for example, in 1999 it took 52 days from the time of order to out of the factory door for a brush chipper but today a dealer orders a brush chipper, and that piece of equipment is put in the order system and out the door in two and a half days.
When you tour one of their factories, it's almost overwhelming how focused they are on their on steps toward "daily improvement." Everything has its "footprint" marked in tape on the floor, items are color-coded, flow through the factory is intuitive. I'm going to try out "daily improvement" principles in my life, and we'll see how my desk at work fares.
The third member of the third generation of the Vermeer family will join the company this fall. Succession has been another important process for the company and family. They started their succession planning 17 years before the first member of the third generation joined in 2005.