Vermeer Corporation

Vermeer, founded in 1948 and headquartered in Pella, Iowa, manufactures large industrial and agricultural equipment. The company employs more than 3,000 team members worldwide who design, build and support the iconic yellow iron. Second-generation family member Mary Andringa is chair of the board of directors; her son Jason Andringa is president and CEO. There are about 70 family shareholders.

Because of a falling-out in 1974 between founder Gary Vermeer and his brother Harry Vermeer, who had worked with him for a quarter-century, the two family branches had minimal contact for 35 years, with the Gary Vermeer family owning a majority of Vermeer Corporation and the Harry Vermeer family owning a minority of the company and stake in a local bank.

Family members from Gary’s side were groomed to work in the company and participate in ownership decisions. Those from Harry’s side were groomed to be silent owners and offered few opportunities to participate other than one seat on the board of directors. This continued owing to a conflict-avoidance mindset between both branches.
In 2009, Gary’s son Bob Vermeer, now chair emeritus, and his daughter Heidi Vermeer-Quist, then ownership council chair, reached out to the Harry Vermeer branch. Out of these conversations grew initiatives to increase contact and information flow between the family members.

In honor of its 30th anniversary, Family Business honored 30 outstanding family businesses:

A. Duda & Sons Inc.

The Agnew Family Enterprise

The Biltmore Company

Bush Brothers & Company

The Clemens Family Corporation

Crescent Electric Supply Co. 

Day & Zimmermann

Dot Foods Inc.

The Duchossois Group

E. Ritter & Company

Elkay Manufacturing Company 

Flanagan Foodservice Inc.

Herschend Enterprises

Hussey Seating Company

IDEAL Industries Inc.

Kiolbassa Provision Company

Laird Norton Company

Lloyd Companies

Lundberg Family Farms

Lyles Family Enterprise

MacLean-Fogg Company

Mannington Mills Inc.

Menasha Corporation

Midmark Corporation

Port Blakely

Sheetz Inc.

Vertex Inc.

W.S. Darley & Co.

Wittwer Hospitality/Boulevard Home


With the help of a consultant, the family participated in exercises that helped them honor their family history while considering how to learn from the past and move forward. The family’s shared values and goals were key: their Dutch heritage, their Christian faith and their foundational “4P” philosophy (Principles, People, Product, Profit) shared by the family and corporation.

The family worked together to update their mission and values statement and held a ceremony to celebrate its ratification. In 2010, the Vermeer family convened its first “family camp,” an annual gathering that combines informational business updates with family governance work and fun. That same year, the family launched its quarterly newsletter and a shareholder handbook.

An ownership council, with members from both branches, was established in 2011, after two years of work by a family task force. The ownership council addresses key family and shareholder issues, such as next-generation development, estate planning and family governance. A family office serves all family members.

Mindi Vanden Bosch, daughter of Mary Andringa, is chair of the ownership council, and Allison Van Wyngarden, daughter of Bob Vermeer, is the ownership council education committee chair. Both are third-generation family members.

The Vermeer Corporation board of directors has a policy requiring at least one more independent director than shareholder directors. There is a detailed, documented shareholder director qualification and development process and a deliberate connection between the board and the ownership council through the board of directors’ governance and nominating committee.

Other structures and policies include a family constitution and charter, a family employment policy and a family website.

During the economic downturn in 2009, the board and shareholders agreed that if the company could break even, there would be no layoffs. Because Vermeer had adopted lean manufacturing, the company had not overproduced and was able to sell its inventory in the field. Vermeer focused on R&D during this time and was able to avoid a reduction in its workforce, which benefited the company greatly and put it at a competitive advantage when the economy reversed.

In the summer of 2018, a tornado struck the Vermeer Corporation campus and destroyed two large manufacturing plants. In addition to the team members, more than 400 dealers and customers were onsite visiting the Vermeer campus for a customer conference and celebration of the company’s 70th anniversary. Thanks to the company’s well-developed safety practices, no one was seriously hurt. All team members were back at work a month after the disaster, an achievement Vermeer attributes to the company’s values-based teamwork and dedication, as well as God’s grace.

September/October 2019

Other Related Articles

  • Life After Exit: How to Prepare for Post-Transition Success

    After years of hard work and strategic planning, transitioning a business to a new owner – through sale or transfer to the next generation – marks a significant milestone.

    Once the process of transitioning the business is complete, the focus shifts to planning for what lies ahead, which can be a daunting endeavor. The following questions may arise:

    • How can I effectively minimize my tax liability throughout the transition?
    • What will my cash flow look like once I exit the business?
    • How can I ensure that I maintain my desired standard of living?
    • What is the optimal strategy to ensure my family achieves its financial goals, considering potential financial market fluctuations and volatility?
    • How can I structure my estate to effectively pass to subsequent generations?

    Similar to the preparations made for the business transition, planning for the next stage of life requires meticulous attention to detail and thoughtful strategies.

    Creating a Comprehensive Post-Transition Financial Plan

    Building a strong financial plan extends far beyond the assets acquired after exiting your business. It requires a holistic approach that encompasses your goals, values, lifestyle, and individual needs. By considering all of these factors together, rather than addressing them in isolation, you can develop a long-term strategy that increases the likelihood of achieving what truly matters to you.

    Your plan should include:

    • Lifelong Objectives: Identify your long-term goals, including retirement plans, philanthropic endeavors, and inheritance objectives.
    • Cash Flow and Liquidity: Ensure the availability of sufficient cash flows and liquidity to fund your objectives.
    • Risk-Adjusted Returns: Set appropriate expectations for investment returns while effectively minimizing risks.
    • Value-Based Investing: Align your investment decisions with your personal values.

    To develop this plan, close collaboration with trusted professionals is essential. Working closely with a CPA, financial advisor, and estate planning attorney ensures all aspects are well-coordinated and optimized for your unique needs.

    Planning for Retirement

    A critical component of your post-transition financial plan involves securing your financial well-being throughout your lifetime. While the specifics vary for each individual or couple based on their expected longevity, it is encouraged to design a strategy that can endure until age 95 or even 100, considering potential advancements in medical care.

    Personal visions for lifelong goals and expenses differ significantly, making it essential to collaborate with an advisor who can create a customized plan tailored to your desires. Establishing an advisor relationship early allows for a diversified investment strategy that aligns with your unique requirements for income generation and effective wealth growth while maintaining a level of risk that aligns with your family's comfort level.

    Estate Planning, Philanthropic Goals, & Intergenerational Wealth Transfer

    More than any other component, estate planning requires a collaborative effort between your estate planning attorney, accountant, and financial advisor. By involving each of these professionals, you can develop a thoughtful strategy that fulfills your philanthropic objectives, creates a lasting legacy for future generations, and considers the legal, tax, and financial implications.

    Key considerations may include:

    • Accurately estimating the value of your estate to inform the most effective and tax-efficient estate plan.
    • Preparing the necessary documentation for creating, funding, and maintaining legal entities and trusts.
    • Identifying a charitable strategy that is aligned with your values.
    • Optimizing tax benefits based on the estate plan and charitable strategy.
    • Filing accurate and timely filed tax returns with governmental entities consistent with your estate plan.
    • Planning for the payment of any transfer taxes (such as federal estate or gift taxes) or state level transfer taxes.
    • Determining the needs of loved ones.

    This phase of estate and financial planning is often emotionally charged, as it involves turning a lifetime of hard work into a sustainable positive impact for your family and community. By aligning your estate plan with your values and long-term goals, you can create a legacy that resonates with your aspirations and leaves a meaningful imprint on the people and causes you hold dear.

    Investment Management

    Investment strategies are often considered early on during a transition, but their real importance becomes apparent in your broader wealth management plan. Once you have worked with your financial advisor to fully understand your life goals, investment portfolios can be thoughtfully constructed.

    Remember, your financial success hinges on having a well-crafted investment strategy that adapts to changing circumstances and maintains focus on your long-term objectives. By working with professionals, you can navigate the complexities of investment management with confidence, ensuring that your financial resources are strategically deployed to secure a prosperous future for you and your family.

    Plan for Life’s Journey & Leave a Lasting Legacy

    A wealth plan is about more than just money. It’s the blueprint for how you will make some of the most significant choices in your life – from when to sell your business to how you want your assets to be maintained, passed down, and used to achieve your personal objectives.

    At Eide Bailly, we help you create a clear, concise plan so you can obtain your financial, personal, and charitable objectives. Our goal is simple: We want to help you achieve your dreams.

    Learn more about Eide Bailly’s transition planning services for family-owned businesses here.


    DISCLAIMER: Investment Advisory Services offered through Eide Bailly Advisors, LLC, a Registered Investment Advisor. Insurance products are offered or issued under Eide Bailly Agency, LLC. Eide Bailly Advisors, LLC employees may also be licensed as insurance agents/producers of Eide Bailly Agency, LLC. Eide Bailly Advisors, LLC. and Eide Bailly Agency, LLC, are wholly owned and operated under Eide Bailly LLP. Not all products and services are available in all states.


  • In paradise, it's passion before profit

    Saint Lucia's Troubetzkoy family strives to do the right thing at its ultra-lux Caribbean resort

  • Innovation is not a 4-letter word

    Fear of the “I-word” may arise from a grandiose definition

  • First Bank’s Center for Family-Owned Businesses’ Family Business Survey: Our Why and Key Findings

    Family businesses are a major economic driving force in America; unfortunately, sparse data, research, and resources for them are available. In addition to the lack of accurate representation of the f...