Today, 80 percent of Vermeer's business is 80 percent industrial and 20 percent forage. All of the work ties back to the farm.
Jason Andringa discussed how he was inspired to research ways Vermeer could contribute to the renewable fuels market after hearing President George W. Bush say, in Bush's 2006 State of the Union address, that the future of energy was in wood chips and switchgrass. These are two items with which Vermeer has long been associated. The company continues to research ways to improve the renewable fuels market.
Braley asked what job skills Vermeer was looking for when seeking employees. Mary Andringa said it has been difficult to find engineers and information technology professionals. Machinists and welders are also hard to find. Regardless of the position, there is a need for employees to understand basic math and technology. Vermeer has offered training on site, and has reached out to educational institutions to broaden science, technology, engineering and math learning opportunities.
The discussion rolled in to one regarding challenges to getting veterans back into the civilian workforce. Skills learned while in the military, including equipment maintenance, can be easily transferred to a job at Vermeer. Braley was impressed with Vermeer's willingness to recruit and hire veterans, when some of them suffer from health issues following their deployments.
"Some employers can't cope with those challenges," Braley said.
Braley's discussion concluded by asking what was needed from Washington, D.C., to help Vermeer continue to succeed and grow. The top priority for Vermeer, its dealers and customers, is stability. They would like to see the federal government get the deficit and debt under control.
In a post-discussion interview, Braley shared his thoughts on Vermeer and its health care work. (Video of the remarks accompany this article.)
"It's been a great experience to get to see all of the exciting product lines that are being built at Vermeer," Braley said. He also complimented the global reach of Vermeer and discussed the importance of manufacturing to the economies of Iowa and the nation.