The Steward at Vermeer
Bob Vermeer has worn many hats during his 40 years as a second-generation owner and top executive of our family-owned and operated company. There are few leadership positions he hasn’t held during his distinguished career, as his resume includes such titles as Director of Finance, Vice President of Finance, President, CEO, Chairman of the Board, and now Chairman Emeritus.
Of course, Bob will be the first to remind us that the title doesn’t make the man. Indeed, his lasting legacy won’t be defined by the positions he has held, but rather, the impact his leadership and business acumen have had in growing the global footprint of Vermeer, which today serves agricultural and industrial customers in more than 60 nations.
This growth was aided by establishing strong business partnerships across all levels of the business, including on the global level where Bob was integral in fostering several alliances with the Lely Group in the Netherlands. For instance, in 2008, Vermeer and Lely completed a joint acquisition of the German agricultural manufacturer Welger Maschinenfabrik GmbH, known today as Lely Vermeer Mashinenfabrik GmbH.
"He’s truly a wonderful and caring person who strives to make better the lives of everyone he meets. That’s a rare quality and an essential one for those aspiring to leadership roles."
Bob’s influence has often extended throughout the industry. As a former Chairman of the Iowa Business Council and head of the prestigious Equipment Manufacturers Institute (now known as the Association of Equipment Manufacturers), he played a strategic role in formulating key trade policies at state and national levels in agriculture and construction.
Despite his impressive resume and many notable achievements, current Vermeer CEO and Chair of the Board, Mary Vermeer Andringa, said her brother’s most important and influential role has been as a steadfast and perceptive steward of the company their father founded back in 1948.
“Bob has been a steward for dealers, customers, employees, charities, the Pella community and the Vermeer family business throughout his entire life. His success stems from the fact he’s truly a wonderful and caring person who strives to make better the lives of everyone he meets. That’s a rare quality and an essential one for those aspiring to leadership roles.”
Now, in his role as Chairman Emeritus, Bob will continue to stay involved as his time allows, serving as an ambassador to the Vermeer team; representing the deep appreciation the Vermeer family has to team members who are integral to the company’s success. This is an area in which Bob already has tremendous experience.
Bob, along with his wife Lois and brother Stan, established the Vermeer Scholarship Program more than 30 years ago. In addition, he arranged for an on-site full-time chaplain for our employees, and created the “Spirit of Caring” award presented annually to a Vermeer employee who most exemplifies it.
“And that doesn’t even touch the surface,” said Andringa. “It’s the many things you never hear about, that aren’t necessarily publicized, that really define who Bob is and what he has achieved during his career.”
From the very beginning of his tenure at Vermeer, Bob has kept his sights firmly focused on the future. He laid the foundation and set the standards for what has become the very seamless and successful transition of “our next generation” of Vermeer family owners and leaders.
And even today, in his retirement years, as he spends more time on his ranch and actively supporting the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, he continues to be an outstanding ambassador for Vermeer, both here and abroad.
It’s safe to say a steward’s work is never done.