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Vermeer Agriculture Presentation + Social

November 2, 2018

On Thursday, November 1, members of Young Professionals in Agriculture gathered at Lessing Flynn. Mark Core, the executive vice-president and chief marketing officer with Vermeer, presented on crisis management, innovation at Vermeer, and headwinds to agriculture prosperity.


Vermeer has been in business for 70 years and has worked with Lessing Flynn for nearly that entire period. Vermeer manufactures a variety of equipment; foraging equipment makes up approximately 20% of their business. About 90% of Vermeer’s manufacturing happens right here in central Iowa at its corporate headquarters in Pella.


Crisis Management:

On July 19, 2018, Vermeer was having a 70th anniversary celebration when an F-3 tornado ripped through and destroyed 400,000 square feet of their facilities in Pella. Amongst the chaos, the leadership team at Vermeer decided they were going to focus on two main goals: All team members will be back to work full time in 45 days and in 2020, Vermeer will come back stronger than ever.


Reflecting back on the first few days after the tornado, Mark and the other executives at Vermeer learned that everyday great leaders aren’t necessarily the best leaders in the state of crisis, communication is critical in order to keep stakeholders’ minds reassured, and it is more productive to focus on fewer, bigger objectives.


Book recommendation: The 4 Disciplines of Execution


Innovation at Vermeer:

Vermeer strives to have an innovative culture. There is a difference between market driven and market driving; a company can choose to be reactive or proactive. Truly innovative companies are able to identify and solve a problem their customers don’t even realize they have.


Headwinds to Agriculture Prosperity:

The four largest problems agriculture will have to overcome quickly are trade, consumer trends, rural sociology, and available labor. The two most concerning of these problems are rural sociology and available labor. In Iowa, there are counties that only have 200 jobs available in the entire county. Rural broadband, medical care, schools, etc. needs to be a priority in order to draw people in. Labor is a severely growing problem. In the next 10 years, certain industries like produce products, manufacturing, etc. will be short 1.5 to 3 million people in labor.


Question & Answer:

1) What is the exact goal for 2020?


“It has been a blessing to be a conservative low-key company because we have been successfully financially. Typically, financial crisis or mergers/acquisitions are what cause companies to reinvent themselves. In our case it was a F-3 tornado. This exact goal will be established by January. Overall, we are thinking deeper in terms of growth. For example, automation,” says Core.


2) What piece of advice do you have for young people in agriculture? 


"I get asked frequently by my colleagues if I am scared of millennials," says Core. "The millennial generation scares people my age because coming out of college you are significantly smarter than I was or my generation due to the internship programs, leadership development, etc. Most companies can't figure out where you fit, but there are a few things to keep in mind as you begin your careers: 


           -Don't ever lose sight of the person whose name is on the front of your pay check, they are the ones taking the risks. 

           -Don't try to force your career or have a ton of oversight on it. Part of it will be luck and being in the right place at the right time, the other part is hard work and focus. At the nd of the day, work ethic still wins."






2) What piece of advice do you have for young people in agriculture?



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