Submitted By Vermeer in the Spring 2012 Issue of Great Plains living
Rooted in the heartland of America is a remarkable story. One that transformed the small town of Pella, Iowa, and changed the world of agriculture. It’s the story of a one-man operation that evolved over six decades into one of the premier manufacturers of agricultural and environmental equipment in the world.
It begins with a man who liked to walk the fields with neighboring farmers, discussing the many challenges they faced on the job. It was the 1940s and the Second World War raged on in Europe and the Asia-Pacific. With hundreds of thousands of Americans engaged in battle, fighting tyranny abroad in the name of freedom and honor, farmers back home were having a tough time finding good help.
Back then unloading grain was among the most labor-intensive jobs on the farm, and the shortage of dependable hired hands only made matters worse. A man named Gary Vermeer set out to find a better way to get the job done. He outfitted his grain wagon with a simple mechanical hoist that unloaded grain faster and easier. Pleased with the results, he shared his innovation with neighboring farmers. Word spread quickly and soon farmers from all over the
area wanted Gary Vermeer to modify their wagons. The first Vermeer innovation was a hit.
On November 22, 1948, Gary Vermeer and his cousin Ralph Vermeer, a local banker, started Vermeer Manufacturing Co. From day one the company’s philosophy mirrored what Gary Vermeer had achieved with his grain wagon hoist: find a need, fill that need with a product built to last, and simply build the best. Even as the company began to grow and expand its product line, that philosophy continued to inspire every product Vermeer built.
In 1950, the company introduced portable PTO-powered hammermills. Instead of using flat belts and pulleys that would often slip in cold or wet weather to grind grain, Vermeer’s Pow-R-Drive models harnessed the power take-off (PTO) of tractors. The
product’s success helped spark growth for the young company, and later prompted Vermeer to introduce additional PTO-driven products.
Sometimes the best solution to a problem presents itself unexpectedly. Such was the case with the revolutionary stump cutter Vermeer unveiled in 1957. While testing a new stump cutter prototype, a Vermeer employee inadvertently hit the wrong lever, causing the cutting wheel to move horizontally across the stump. It was a better way to get the job done, and the discovery resulted in a top-of-the-line stump cutter design that is still used today.
Vermeer’s signature innovation, one that would revolutionize the hay harvesting industry forever, came in 1971. Gary Vermeer went on an early morning walk with a close friend who shared with him some disheartening news: he intended to sell his cow-calf business. It had become too much of a hassle to bale hay and he couldn’t find dependable hired hands to help him put it up. To him, selling his business was the only solution.
Gary Vermeer realized that the ideal solution just hadn’t been built yet. So the next morning he set out to design it with a team of Vermeer product engineers. They chalked up a design on the factory floor that would become the original Vermeer baler. The first prototype for the “One-Man Hay System” rolled out the door 45 days later. Vermeer balers started being produced commercially in 1972.
One of Vermeer’s most popular balers ever built rolled out of Vermeer’s factories in Pella, 28 years later, meeting a need some customers didn’t know they had. In an effort to produce smaller hay packages and meet the needs of part-time farmers who wanted the freedom and convenience of rolling their own bales (and according to their own schedules), Vermeer introduced the Rebel® Baler in 1999.
Vermeer’s line of hay harvesting machinery has grown considerably since the first round baler was introduced 41 years ago. Balers, along with rakes, tedders, mowers, silage wrappers and bale processors, make up the complete line of forage products. Operators can depend on Vermeer machines throughout the entire hay harvesting and feeding process.
In addition to providing innovative forage solutions here in the United States, Vermeer continues to have a positive impact on quality of life in all corners of the world. Vermeer products appear on job sites from Russia to Brazil and from New Zealand to Canada. Not bad for a company that maintains a personal bond and deep-seated commitment to the town and community that has supported the company since the start – Pella, Iowa.
If innovation is the engine that has powered this market-driven, family-owned company the past six decades, it’s people who keep that engine running smoothly. Every department – from product engineering to manufacturing and from financing to parts and service – is staffed with energetic people who are committed to meeting the needs of Vermeer dealers and customers.
Today, the Vermeer team couldn’t be more pleased to be partnering with Great Plains Equipment Sales. The people at Great Plains understand the philosophy that has served Vermeer so well over the years: find a need, fill that need with a product built to last, and simply build the best.
Wanting to provide customers with innovative and dependable hay harvesting products, the Great Plains team turned to the company that revolutionized the forage industry. Vermeer and Great Plains Equipment Sales are both committed to finding a better way to get the job done. That’s why it’s partnership that’s built to last.