Johnson Family Comes Full Circle on Vermeer Balers

Rick Johnson was likely sitting in arithmetic class as his father and grandfather were making the drive from Polo, Mo., up to Vermeer headquarters in Pella, Iowa, to take delivery of their new Vermeer A-series baler. It was the early 1970s and the “One-Man Hay System” was still a novel concept. As Johnson will tell you today, it was a smart purchase.

“They looked at another baler that just put the hay in a big stack, just a big hay pile out in the field,” Johnson said. “It was the right choice going with the Vermeer baler. At the time (Vermeer) was really the only choice (of big round balers). They were really the pioneers of the industry. My dad was happy with his baler.”

This past January, Johnson, 50, made that same drive from Polo to Pella in order to watch his new Vermeer 605N baler being built. He said it was an eye-opening experience to watch all the different hay tools – not just balers but also mowers, rakes and bale processors – rolling through the assembly line.

Clifton Johnson Jr. (left) and his son Rick bought Vermeer balers almost 45 years apart.

The Johnsons eventually moved on from that original A-series baler. Through the years, Rick said they have used just about every major brand of round baler, with some performing better than others. About five years ago, he switched to a Vermeer XL-series baler and realized a distinct difference.

“The quality of the (Vermeer) equipment and the weight of the balers. The heaviness of it. The ruggedness of it. Just how it’s made. Vermeer puts out a really good quality piece of equipment,” Johnson said. “I used the XL for four, five years and I liked the convenience of it. That’s why I stayed with Vermeer when I went to buy new.”

Johnson said that the old A-series baler is still in the neighborhood, a symbol of antiquity sitting in the yard of a neighboring farmer who bought it off the Johnsons years ago.

“The A baler was nothing like these new ones. It was bare bones. Back then you baled hay and that’s it,” Johnson observed. “They sure have changed a lot, but Vermeer is still ahead of the game as far as balers go. With the new E-Link Pro monitor and the new style of balers. They have certainly come a long ways.”