Walking through the Diamond Vogel Paint headquarters in Orange City, Iowa, is an interesting walk through history, especially if your tour guide happens to be Drew Vogel, chairman and CEO.
Vogel is sure to stop in a corner room that honors the company’s rich history, which started in his great-great-grandfather’s paint shop in Holland.
This small room is a walk back in time, filled with photos of his family, including his grandfather Andrew Vogel, and the original paint shop where it all began in Friesland, Holland. That’s where Andrew Vogel worked in his father’s paint shop applying finishes to the homes and carriages of Dutch farmers.
Drew and other family members have returned to Friesland, Holland, to see their grandfather’s original paint shop. They were so intrigued by one of the building’s interior poles that he had it shipped back to Orange City, where it stands proudly in the history room. The pole was used by previous generations of the family to test each small batch of paint and is now coated with hundreds
of samples of their work from years past.
In 1913, the family immigrated to America, and Andrew settled in northwest Iowa. He soon discovered that American paints did not measure up to his family’s strict standards of appearance and performance. In 1926, with two small grinding machines each capable of making five gallons of paint, Andrew launched Vogel Paint and Wax Company.
“My grandfather originally wanted to farm, but that turned out to be very difficult. I remember him saying with a smile that farming was a lot of work, and that he decided to go back to making paint,” Vogel said.
Following World War II, the second generation of Vogels joined the company – Drew’s father, Frank, and his brothers. There were a lot of boys who went to war and saw the world and the modernization of equipment. They came home – back to their farms – and realized there had to be a better way to farm.
“They created machines, and my father’s observation was they’d need to paint that equipment,” Vogel said.
His father’s influence on the company back then was his ability to pay attention to the customer needs, to see that new technology was coming and understand how the company fit in that process.
In 1967, Vogel Paint purchased the Diamond Products Manufacturing Company, and in the early 1970s, the company started to do business as Diamond Vogel Paint to capitalize on the strong brand recognition of each company.
The business grew by supplying paint coatings to the expanding agricultural industry and producing traffic paint, government coatings, and architectural finishes. In 1972, Vogel joined the company. He succeeded his father as president of Diamond Vogel Paint in 1987.
Joining the family business was not in Vogel’s original plan.
“I was a reluctant leader,” he said with a hearty laugh. “I never even contemplated going into the family business when I was in college. You know how it is when you don’t want to do what others might expect you to do? That was me.”
Even so, he joined the business, and led with dedication, experience, and forward thinking. After his father turned the reins over to him, Vogel knew there were more opportunities to explore. As the company grew, Vogel expanded upon a quality leadership team to help make key decisions. He credits much of the company success to those team members.
Today, the company operates eight production facilities and more than 65 service centers in the central United States under brand names such as Diamond Vogel, Old Masters, Peridium Powder Coatings, and others. In 2016, the company celebrated its 90th anniversary.
Even though he is not retiring, Vogel is delegating more responsibilities to the next generation and just last year stepped down as company president.
Vogel’s family is also in the banking business. Shortly after retiring, his father purchased Iowa State Bank in Orange City and currently serves as chairman of the board with Drew serving as vice chair.
He was the recipient of the George B. Heckel Award from the American Coatings Association and received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Northwestern College.
The Ivy College of Business honored Vogel in fall 2017 as a result of his many accomplishments by presenting him with the Citation of Achievement award.
In the fall 2017, he was inducted into the 2017 Iowa Business Hall of Fame, which honors the achievements of Iowans who have made outstanding contributions to the development and enhancement of Iowa’s business climate.
While working for the family company throughout the years, Vogel and his wife, Jean, have lived in Des Moines, Omaha, Minneapolis, and Denver. Finally, they moved to Orange City, where they have remained for the last 30 years.
They have three adult children: Meika, Trevor, and Tyler. Daughter Meika is the only one in the family business.
A graduate of Harvard Law School, she now serves as vice-president and general counsel of the company.