Last month, RER took part in the 60th anniversary celebration of Vermeer Corp. in Pella, Iowa. As part of the anniversary event, the company introduced new products in the agricultural, underground, composting and wood waste markets. The new product introductions include the BC2100XL brush chipper, the CT1010TX compost turner, the RTX100 pedestrian trencher, the RTX750 tractor and the SC852 stump cutter.

The BC2100XL brush chipper delivers power with three engine options to tackle tough land-clearing jobs. Two horizontal-feed rollers, a belt-tensioned clutchless cutter drum and a large feed table turn that power into improved productivity.

The CT1010TX helps compost sites make the best use of their space. By utilizing the optional conveyor, compost sites can create a continuous stack configuration, eliminating the need for open space between the windrows. This allows for three- to four- times more material to be placed in the same space as conventional windrow composting.

The RTX100 pedestrian trencher features the intuitive VZ Steer steering system that requires minimal operator effort to control machine direction. When transporting or operating the machine, steering is controlled by the slight movement of a directional control bar.

The RTX750 includes the rubber quad-track system, which offers many of the benefits of a conventional dual-track system including improved floatation, reduced surface damage, increased tractive effort and greater stability.

A four-position linkage design on the SC852 allows the cutter wheel to move away from the machine as the boom drops down toward the stump. This reduces the need to reposition the entire unit. The SC852 achieves cutting heights of 31 inches above ground and 25 inches below grade.

On the second day of the media event, Bob Vermeer, chairman of the board and co-CEO, and Mary Andringa, president and co-CEO, spoke on the global overview of the past, present and future of Vermeer. Both Vermeer and Andringa emphasized that the family is still very much involved in the day-to-day business, and introduced two members of the third generation who have recently joined the company: Jason Andringa and Allison Van Wyngarden.

Through a system of lean manufacturing that was adopted 10 years ago, Vermeer has been able to cut production time on the manufacturing equipment lines. For example, in 2000 it took 52 days from raw steel to shipping to build a chipper. Now that lead time is 2.5 days in 2008.

Chet Culver, governor of Iowa, made a brief stop to congratulate Vermeer on 60 years of promoting business in Iowa and for being one of the largest employers in the state.

The celebration ended with breakout sessions on various topics on which Vermeer is currently concentrating. Lean Manufacturing showcased how the company is able to reduce waste in the production process and in excess materials, and how the reduced waste benefits the customer. Through the implementation of lean manufacturing, the customer is able to receive purchased equipment in a shorter amount of time compared to 10 years ago. Biomass Market Potential focused on what drives this market and how it will affect the wood waste and agricultural industries. Growing the Vermeer Business discussed how the international market will affect manufacturers as a whole and what Vermeer is doing to capitalize on these trends, from both the industrial and agricultural perspectives.

Sixty years has passed since Iowa farmer Gary Vermeer came up with the idea to create a mechanical hoist to help expedite the process of unloading harvested crops from his grain wagons. After word of this invention spread, Gary, along with his cousin Ralph Vermeer, formed Vermeer Corp. in 1948, supplying the farm industry with many other innovative products to make work easier.

Today, Vermeer consists of eight manufacturing plants spanning some 110 acres that occupies more than 1.5 million square feet of space located just outside of Pella, Iowa, near the farmland where Gary Vermeer designed his first wagon hoist. The company will officially commemorate its 60th anniversary on Nov. 22, and has expanded its product range to forage, tree care, wood-waste processing, composting, compact and underground installation equipment. Vermeer employs more than 2,000 people and sells equipment in more than 60 countries.