Weathering the “Storms”: the Vermeer Family Business Story

by Molly Barnes
February 9, 2021

The Vermeer family business story began in 1948 out of their grandfather's workshop and has grown into a first-class global manufacturing business, dedicated to putting people and principles first. Heidi Vermeer-Quist, Psy. D. and consultant is a third generation Vermeer and joined the Wisconsin Family Business Center for the December Speaker Series to share how her family has stayed resilient through the challenges they’ve overcome. Much of that resilience has come from her psychology background, strong faith, and the collective commitment to put their principles first.

Dr. Heidi admitted that, like most young generation members of family businesses, she had to figure out her place in the family business. While she is still closely involved with the family business, she followed her heart to psychology and focuses on helping others maintain good mental health. Helping others talk about their struggles and work through conflict in a mature way has help her stay involved in their family business. Dr. Heidi hopes all family business leaders can find a resource to talk to. Where can you start? Here are a few simple tips she shared.

Get Grounded – Manage Thyself

Feeling stressed and overwhelmed by the work of your family business, is normal, and you can find other motivation to help you cope, whether it be faith, family, stewardship, community, or mission. Dr. Heidi’s grandfather went through life with the motivation that he was always “in search of a better way”, and she now carries that with her. When it comes down to it, you are in charge of yourself and only yourself, so if you can manage yourself the best you can, you’ll find your way through any situation. To stay grounded, remind yourself what you’re thankful for, breathe, and let go of your worries and anything else you’re hanging onto. Mindfulness is staying fully present in the moment. Dr. Heidi reminded us that those of us who live in North America are often rewarded for being busy so actively working on being mindful throughout the day will help keep you grounded.

She also recommended a mindfulness activity to stay grounded by engaging your senses. While this does feel odd at first, it is helpful in the long run. Start by describing five things you can currently see, then four things you are touching, three things you can hear, two tastes, and one smell. Finding a scent that destresses you is beneficial so Dr. Heidi encourages everyone to find something that you can easily have on hand to reroute your emotions. Our senses are deeply connected to each of us and thus help us destress in times of need.


It is natural to go through something bad and wish it had never happened. Dr. Heidi reminds us to find the light in those moments and radically accept what we cannot change and have courage to change what we can. Finding the courage to change comes back to managing thyself. Negative thoughts are going to happen, but it is up to you to do something about those thoughts. Focus on strengthening your relationships, be grateful for what you have, and stay grounded.

Remember to set healthy boundaries and be responsible for yourself. You likely have your own set of values and beliefs and Dr. Heidi encourages everyone to live those out. Communicate openly but in a kind manner, and don’t interpret what others are saying but actively listen to them instead.

To stay mindful during the storms, Dr. Heidi makes a personal commitment to staying grounded in her values, taking slow breathes, and actively working to be mindful daily. She recommends that when you drive, just drive. When you shower, just shower. Stay in the moment. Mindless doing isn’t helpful, and multitasking is stressful. Take time away from electronics, exercise more, and stay connected to yourself in the present moment.

hank you to Dr. Heidi for joining us and sharing with the FBC community on her family business history and overcoming challenging times.

You are welcome to join us via Zoom for a future Speaker Series event. If you would like to attend as our guest, please contact Sherry Herwig at 608-441-7347 or [email protected]