Gary Vermeer, 90, founder and chairman emeritus of Vermeer Corporation in Pella, Iowa, died Feb. 2, 2009, at the Comfort House of Pella.
Born Sept. 29, 1918, he was the son of the late Jacob and Anna Vermeer.
Mr. Vermeer and a cousin started the business in 1948, after inventing a wagon hoist five years earlier, which made it easier to unload corn.
Demand for the labor-saving device from his neighbors prompted him to open Vermeer Manufacturing Company.
From that small operation, the company has grown over the past 60 years to an international organization that manufactures agricultural, construction, environmental, and industrial equipment.
Today, Vermeer Corporation has industrial dealerships in over 60 countries and on every continent except Antarctica, in addition to hundreds of agricultural equipment dealers throughout the U.S.
Perhaps Mr. Vermeer’s best known manufacturing contribution is the Vermeer round hay baler, an invention that revolutionized agriculture in 1971 as it turned the labor-intensive process of hay baling into a one-man operation.
Mr. Vermeer served on many area boards and was recognized with several awards including the Pella Community Service Award in 1977, and was named Iowa Inventor of the Year in 1984.
He was inducted into the Iowa Business Hall of Fame in 1986, the Junior Achievement Business Hall of Achievement in 1992, and the Construction Equipment Industry Hall of Fame in 1996.
He is survived by his wife, Matilda, and three children, Stanley Vermeer, Robert Vermeer and Mary Andringa, eight grandchildren, and nine great grandchildren.
In honor of Mr. Vermeer, a Web site has been established. Visit www.garyvermeer.com for more information, including funeral arrangements and memorials.