Vermeer Chairman Emeritus Bob Vermeer, the company's former CEO, has died, the company said in a statement on social media. He passed away after a battle with cancer at the age of 78.
Bob was the son of Vermeer founder Gary Vermeer. He started his career at the Pella, Iowa-headquartered manufacturing company in 1974 and served as CEO from 1989 to 2003.
“Bob loved people and his passion for others will continue to be a lasting legacy at Vermeer,” an August 17 company announcement says.
Tributes from industry peers poured out over social media. “A sad day and a big loss for American manufacturing,” Ditch Witch Director of Customer Care Randy Rupp said. “Bob was a great man and a true leader in the industry,” added Thomas Casey, CEO of SLR Equipment Finance.
In 2016, Bob was elected to the Association of Equipment Manufacturers’ Hall of Fame for the innovative processes he brought to the family business, including dealer coaching, improved equipment availability and productivity enhancements.
Known for his compassion, open-door policy and servant leadership, Bob spearheaded numerous service programs including the Vermeer Chaplain Program, the Vermeer Charitable Foundation Scholarship Program and the Vermeer Spirit of Caring Award.
Bob was also active within the industry and his community. He has served in volunteer leadership positions for AEM, the Iowa Business Council, the Central College Board of Trustees, the Dordt College Board, the Calvin Theological Seminary Board of Trustees and the Pella Chamber of Commerce.
The company says it will share more information as it becomes available.