by Carol Van Klompenburg and Donna Biddle
Go inside the beginnings of one of the best-known agricultural, construction, environmental, and industrial equipment manufacturing companies in the world through the lives of Vermeer Corporation founder Gary Vermeer and his wife, Matilda.
Raised during the depression on an Iowa farm, Gary Vermeer knew hard work. While others only dreamed of easier times, Gary used his tinkering skills to search for a better way. Sixty years ago, with support from his wife Matilda, Gary helped found a factory with that simple goal. Today, with the same goal, Vermeer Corporation sells more than 120 innovative products worldwide.
As the company grew over the years, the couple traveled the globe, gave generously to numerous causes, and shuttled hundreds of people for a free vacation at a remote Canadian fishing camp.
That, however, is only part of their story. In spite of their success, Gary and Matilda continued to live in the modest home in which they raised their family and enjoyed a weekly dinner out at one of Gary’s favorite restaurants—McDonald’s. In their hearts, Gary and Matilda remained simple farmers with an unshakeable faith that expected them, in Matilda’s words, “to live for the glory of God.”