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Growing Business

Family values lead at Vander Haags

Posted by Paul Daniels on Monday, July 2, 2018

With a legacy reaching back into the 1930s, the Vander Haags are proud to be a family-owned and operated business in Iowa.

image of vander haags

At the beginning of World War II, a small junkyard, scrap iron and metal business opened in Sanborn, Iowa to support the war effort.  Founder John Vander Haag Sr. recognized a nationwide need for quality recycled salvaged parts, especially as new parts became more difficult to obtain during the later years of the war.

“The war created a large need and there was rationing of tires and other auto parts,” said John Vander Haag, president of Vander Haags Inc. and grandson of Vander Haag Sr. “The demand for parts and supplies grew, and my grandpa started selling used parts from the vehicles they were buying for scrap iron.”

The business continued to expand after the war ended, growing the car salvage operation until the company needed a new facility. Eventually, Vander Haags moved to the bigger city nearby — Spencer, Iowa, — and began offering used parts. The company added stores in Des Moines, Iowa, during the farm crisis in the 1980s and eventually locations in Sioux Falls, South Dakota; then Council Bluffs, Iowa; Kansas City and Winamac, Indiana.

Now, Vander Haags operates in four distinct arenas: salvage for used parts, truck and trailer sales, truck service and new and used parts sales. “We’re investigating further opportunities in the Indiana and Ohio markets, as well” said Vander Haag.

With a legacy reaching back into the 1930s, the Vander Haags are proud to be a family-owned and operated business. “We work really hard to maintain the family-owned feeling in everything we do,” said Vander Haag. “Ultimately, that trickles back to how we treat our customers and how committed we are to giving back to our community.”

Those family-owned priorities influence all the decisions at Vander Haags, including who it partners with in the community. Originally, the company had established a financial relationship with a bank located in a small town nearby Spencer. But as they grew, it became more difficult to work with a non-hometown bank nearly 35 miles away from its headquarters.

When Vander Haag attended an event hosted by Northwest Bank, he saw the value in partnering with another locally-owned and family-operated business right there in Spencer. “They realize that keeping local businesses local — keeping them strong and stable — is connected directly to their success,” said Vander Haag.

Vander Haags vision for growth influenced his decision to transfer to Northwest Bank. “At the event, Northwest was talking about succession planning, business transitions and supporting local businesses in the towns where they have branches,” said Vander Haag. “I saw them as a partner I could have those conversations about succession planning and growth with.”

Since partnering with Northwest Bank, Vander Haag has sat down with the team to discuss the future of his company, as well as put a succession plan in place. “They’ve come to the table to talk with us about our customer prospecting system and discuss security options for our customer’s information, like finding the most efficient way to integrate credit card payments into our customer management system.”

Vander Haag has drawn parallels from the way his family-owned business operates with how the Conover family at Northwest operates the bank. “The owners are attentive to our business and came to tour our facility to get a feel for our operations. They’ve gone above and beyond to understand who we are to help us succeed.”

The family-owned values that have sustained Vander Haags since 1939 are reflected at Northwest. “The bank is very active in our community — just like we are,” said Vander Haag. “They treat us like family.”

Image of Vander Haags facility.

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Paul Daniels

Paul Daniels

Business Banking Manager, VP

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