Mary Andringa

This is the first of a two-part profile of Mary Andringa. The second part will be published tomorrow.

In the minds of many, manufacturing and theology could not be further apart. But for Mary Andringa, president and CEO of Vermeer Corporation and chair of the board for the National Association of Manufacturers, theology and manufacturing are integrally intertwined.

The company was founded in Pella, Iowa in 1948 after Andringa’s father, Gary Vermeer, designed a mechanical wagon hoist that made it easier for farmers to unload their grain during harvest. In the years that followed, the company’s product line expanded to include a hammermill, a self-propelled irrigation system, and a stump cutter. The company has since grown exponentially, now offering a full line of agricultural, industrial, environmental, and construction equipment, while employing some 2,000 people.

Andringa credits her father with modeling for her a vibrant integration of faith and work, and of demonstrating the relevance of his faith in all areas of life.

“He was practical in his own Christianity, but he lived it out,” Andringa says, recalling her father’s insistence on treating employees well, on respectful relationships with customers, on refusing to work on Sundays, and on generous giving to the family’s church. Her mother, Matilda, meanwhile, taught her what it means to be a person of prayer.

Andringa’s worldview was already taking shape during childhood, but it solidified further while attending Calvin College in the late 1960s and early 1970s. She has vivid memories of one professor who began class each day by drawing a diagram on the board emphasizing the difference it makes when all of life is properly seen under the Lordship of Christ. “It was very visual, very repetitive, and it got the point across,” she remembers.

When she began working as a teacher following graduation, she was reminded of that lesson, and it shaped the way she taught her students. In 1982, when she joined Vermeer Corporation, she continued to reflect on the implications of her faith for her work in the manufacturing industry. Eventually she led the company to adopt a set of core values rooted in a Christian worldview but that would be understandable to all, regardless of faith commitments. These values—known as the four Ps—are people, principles, products, and profit.

“We’ve never wanted to force our faith on others,” she says. “We simply wanted to treat employees with respect, to encourage them to be their best, and to emphasize the importance of excellence, of integrity, and of being a good steward.”

One Response to A Theology of Managing and Manufacturing: Vermeer President and CEO, Mary Andringa (Part 1)

  1. […] story was published late last week by Fieldnotes in two parts, available here and […]