US company Vermeer Manufacturing and the Dutch-based Lely Group have announced plans to jointly acquire 100% of the assets of the German agricultural baler and bale-wrapper manufacturer Welger Maschinenfabrik GmbH.
According to a recent joint press release, the new Vermeer-Lely alliance, which is acquiring a 100% stake in Welger, will create “huge benefits” for all three high-profile brands and a much larger global presence in grassland machinery and baling equipment. “Lely and Vermeer have already cultivated a very strong working relationship, in fact, we’ve been collaborating for nearly two decades,” said Vermeer co-CEO and chairperson of the board Robert Vermeer.
“This new alliance combines the strengths of three premier brands plus the resources and expertise of three highly skilled and motivated research and development departments and manufacturing enterprises. As we look to the future, the potential gain in new product development and manufacturing efficiencies is enormous and the benefits to forage producers could be tremendous,” says Vermeer. Welger Maschinenfabrik GmbH is a leading manufacturer of high-quality baling and bale-wrapping equipment for the agricultural market. The company employs a staff of 375 and recently reported sales revenue of approximately R670 million. Andlinger, a private investment partnership, is the majority owner of Welger. As Welger utilises Lely’s distribution network, Lely currently accounts for approximately 50% of Welger’s revenue.
Vermeer, founded in 1948, owns original patents on several types of agricultural, environmental and underground construction equipment and most notably it’s credited with the invention of the Big Round Baler in 1971. Today, Vermeer is a global marketer operating under several divisions with separate distribution channels. The Vermeer agricultural division specialises in hay equipment including large round balers, mowers, mower/conditioners, rakes, bale processors, silage wrappers, bale movers and hay handling equipment. The company is active in 54 countries worldwide and employs close to 2 000 staff. Lely and Welger equipment is imported and distributed in Southern Africa by Northmec. For more information on Lely and Welger implements contact Johan van der Merwe at Northmec on (011) 922 2300 or e-mail [email protected]
Vermeer invented the first big round baler in 1971
In 1971 one of Gary Vermeer’s friends told him he intended to sell his cow-calf business “because of the heavy burden of baling hay … and the problem of finding dependable hired hands to put it into store.” Inventing machines was nothing new for Vermeer, and his friend’s statement was enough to spark Gary’s imagination. The very next morning, with help from new product engineers in the experimental department of the Vermeer factory, Gary literally chalked the initial design of the original Vermeer baler right onto the factory floor. Forty-five days later the first prototype unit rolled out of the door for testing on Gary’s own farm, baling grass. Initially the baler threw the grass out as fast as it entered the bale chamber. This brief setback was resolved with typical American ingenuity and some old discarded fence posts lying nearby. By placing a post inside the bale chamber, the grass could form around the “core”. That’s when the first big round bale was produced. The first baler, the Vermeer 706, was discontinued when the smaller 605 series (producing 1,5m wide x 1,8m diameter bales) proved to be more practical for most operators.