Iowa manufacturing veteran, Vermeer, dies at 90

By Susanne Retka Schill
Web exclusive posted Feb. 6, 2009, at 10:04 a.m. CST

Gary Vermeer, 90, founder of Vermeer Corp., died Feb. 2 in Pella, Iowa. In 1943, as a young farmer, Vermeer and a cousin invented a wagon hoist which made it much easier to unload corn. Demand for the labor-saving device from his neighbors prompted the launching of Vermeer Manufacturing Co. in 1948.

Over 60 years in operation, the company grew into an international organization manufacturing agricultural, construction, environmental and industrial equipment with dealerships in more than 60 countries. Probably the best known invention for the company was the Vermeer round hay baler that turned the labor intensive baling operation into a one-person job.

Even as the manufacturing business grew, Gary Vermeer maintained his interest in farming, taking time from the business to run the tractor, as recently as the spring of 2007. Two of Vermeer's children, Robert Vermeer and Mary Vermeer Andringa, now serve as co-chief executive officers of the corporation. Three grandchildren are also active in the corporation.

Vermeer is survived by his wife, Matilda, three children and their spouses, eight grandchildren and nine great grandchildren. In honor of Vermeer and his lifetime contributions to industry and community, a Web site has been established. Visit