Dordt College News

Vander Haags

January 23, 2012

John C. Vander Haag and his wife, Ruth, have been supporting Dordt College since before the first classes were offered in 1955.

“Henry Buteyn (one of Dordt’s founders) came to talk to me about how great it was going to be to have a local college to teach people to be Christian school teachers,” says Vander Haag.

He, too, thought it sounded like a good idea. So began what would become a decades-long relationship with Dordt College. Vander Haag’s sister, Beverly Vander Haag De Graaff, attended, later his son and daughter-in-law enrolled, and today his grandson is a first-year student at Dordt. Over the years, the Vander Haags have supported many students through scholarships, and they have contributed generously to capital campaigns.

John C. Vander Haag grew up in the family business, following in the footsteps of his father, John Sr., but took the business in new directions. Today his son, John M., serves as president of a company with a national presence that has grown to 150 employees and spread to five locations. 

“We like to think of ourselves as one of the original recyclers,” says Vander Haag. Following his return from the Korean War, John C. shifted the focus of the business from scrap metal to used car parts. He began buying late model wrecked cars to build up an inventory.

Vander Haag soon became involved with the National Auto Recycler Association, which he says had a significant effect on how he developed his business. He eventually took on leadership roles in the organization. His company gradually narrowed its business to used truck parts and used trucks.

“Today my son, John M., doesn’t service anything with fewer than six wheels,” says John C. Vander Haag’s, Inc. buys trucks from all over the country, dismantles them and cleans the parts, and keeps a computerized inventory. They ship parts overnight almost anywhere in the country.

“We view our work as a calling,” says John M. “We’ve built our business on honesty and integrity, trying to serve our customers, employees, and shareholders.” Vander Haag’s employees are also loyal and stick around. A recent retiree ended his employment just a few months short of 40 years. Many have been with Vander Haags for 20 to 30 years. Very few miss the annual overnight family Christmas party, this year held at a hotel and waterpark.

“It’s humbling to come into a business that is strong and steady and have the opportunity to give leadership that will continue to help the company grow,” says John M. He has followed in his father and grandfather’s path, never neglecting the principles upon which they built the business. Today as then, Vander Haag’s, Inc. is committed to offering quality products, treating their customers well, helping others reuse resources; and supporting “kingdom” causes.

“We make money to give money. That focus was instilled in me by my father,” says John M. The family supports a variety of Christian organizations, many of which are involved in Christian education.

The Vander Haag family has given generously to Dordt College over the years out of that commitment—providing young people with the tools and insight to work and live in God’s world.

One area close to their hearts is their scholarship program for international students. Twelve students received scholarships this year. That number will increase next year.

“In the early 70s one of my dad’s cousins came from the Netherlands and attended Dordt. I think that and his love for travel and his interest in knowing people from other parts of the world triggered this focus originally,” says John M. “It’s very good to have Dordt’s student body include people from other countries.”

The Vander Haags’ most recent gift is designated for upgrades to the science building, the main focus of Dordt College fund- raising in the next few years.

“The growth in opportunities in the sciences is exciting,” says John M. “Now’s the time to move ahead and help make sure that Dordt students are well prepared to go out in these areas.”

“We’ve been tremendously blessed. God has opened so many doors,” he adds. In return, the Vander Haags are helping open doors for current and future students at Dordt College.


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