A Flexible People Strategy Fuels a Rural Manufacturer

Mindi Vanden Bosch, VP of Vermeer

With 4,500+ team members supporting customers in more than 60 countries, Vermeer Corporation’s influence extends across the globe. However, the industrial and agricultural machine manufacturer’s impact is felt most strongly at home, at its rural Iowa headquarters. 

In an industry in which 83% of manufacturers cite attracting and retaining employees as their top challenge, per research from Deloitte, Vermeer is ahead of the curve, offering progressive solutions and benefits to draw in a diverse pool of talent – and it’s resonating with their workforce. We sat down with Vermeer’s VP of Operations, Mindi Vanden Bosch, to understand the programs and initiatives the company uses to enable employees and drive industry change.

Recruitment is a pivotal challenge in manufacturing right now. How does Vermeer Corporation approach the talent acquisition and onboarding process?

Being in manufacturing, we’re always competing for talent. A big focus for us has been expanding our talent pool to include prospects from other industries. In the past, most of our employees came to us with some sort of agricultural background. However, that just isn’t our reality anymore. We’re pulling in talent from a variety of different backgrounds and experience levels. As a result, we must ensure we’re providing new hires with the best possible training, including an in-house program, to get them up to speed and confident in their roles.

The last thing we want is for an employee to come in, feel overwhelmed, and leave our company or the manufacturing industry because we didn’t give them what they need to be successful. In manufacturing, people equal production, so innovating our approach to both finding, upskilling and supporting talent is a huge competitive advantage for us.

Today’s employees expect employer support beyond the traditional benefits. What are some of the innovative ways Vermeer supports its workforce?

We aim to make our employees’ lives easier, both at work and at home, in any way we can. Our employees have a lot of personal and professional responsibilities, so we do everything in our power to lighten the load for them. As such, we offer several great on-site services to support our team. For example, Vermeer employees have access to an on-site medical clinic and on-site pharmacy. These resources not only give them more access to the care they need to stay well and perform at a high level, but also help them save money.

Vermeer is headquartered in Iowa, which is a child care desert. What do you offer working parents to help them be at their best?

Only 11% of all American manufacturing workers receive any form of child care benefit – that’s not good enough. Finding quality, affordable child care is hard enough, but manufacturing employees are frontline workers who have to be on-site every day. And as you said, we’re in Iowa. The supply of care just isn’t there to meet the needs of working parents in this state. That’s why we view our on-site child care center as one of our most important employee benefits. Being in manufacturing, our employees often work non-traditional schedules, which include very early morning shifts. As a result, our center’s operating hours are designed around our working hours. We offer full-time care, and care both before and after school. We’re even a stop on the local bus route, which allows parents to cover the window of time between the start of their shift and the start of the school day. 

These children are the future of the workforce, so we want to ensure we’re providing them with a robust curriculum to support their development and introduce them to the STEM industries at a very early age. Overall, the center isn’t just about keeping our employees at work; it’s about giving them that peace of mind they need to be at their absolute best when they are at work. 

As a woman in an historically male-dominated industry, how do you approach the challenge of recruiting more women?

Employing more women is not only a priority for us, it’s a necessity. With baby boomers reaching retirement age, bringing more women into the field is the best way to fill the talent gaps and expand our talent pool. But it’s about much more than just meeting production quotas. A recent Deloitte study found that women are 1.8 times more likely than men to leave the industry once they enter. It’s our job to ensure that we’re not only trying to recruit more women, but also putting them in a position to progress and thrive at Vermeer. 

I’m proud to say that we have solid representation of women in our leadership positions. That’s a direct result of benefits like our child care center, which allow working mothers to stay in the workforce and advance up the ladder at Vermeer into high-level roles. As we – and the entire manufacturing industry – look to attract more women, it is critical that we help solve the challenges women and all our working parents face. It’s our responsibility to provide solutions and support to keep them working, engaged, and progressing towards career growth.

As a frontline industry, what is Vermeer doing to provide employees with the flexibility they need between work and life?

We pull team members in from a 60-mile radius around our headquarters. For our corporate staff, like many employers, we do offer hybrid schedules of working some days in the office and some days from home. However, for some of our frontline workers, we’re implementing compressed schedules to offer more consistent and planned flexibility that you rarely get in manufacturing roles. Our on-site child care center enables us to offer care that aligns with a variety of work schedules. Piloting progressive scheduling helps us not only attract and retain employees across roles, geographies and generations, but also demonstrates that we’re not a static company; we’re willing to innovate and change to better serve the needs of our employees.

Thank you so much to Mindi for taking the time to speak with us!

Mindi Vanden Bosch, VP of Vermeer

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