Mr. Vanderploeg, an Iowa farm boy who became a successful big city banker, achieved even greater success in his last 20 years as an industrialist. “He grew up planting, cultivating and harvesting the Iowa corn he was destined in his latter years to send to breakfast tables all across America,” (Battle Creek Enquirer, May 28, 1957).
He graduated from Central University Academy in Pella, Iowa, then went to work for the Farmers & Merchants Bank of Pella as a messenger and handy man. He soon became a clerk and 11 years later, in 1917, bought the bank under the new name Farmers National Bank. He managed the bank for six years then sold it in 1923.
Meanwhile, he studied law and passed the bar in 1912. He never practiced law. Instead, he was chosen by the Iowa State Banking Commission to handle simultaneously the liquidation of five banks. In 1930 he was made president of Harris Trust & Savings in Chicago; the bank where W.K. Kellogg had done business for years.
After joining Kellogg Co. in 1937, first as a director and two years later as the top executive, Mr. Vanderploeg guided his local industry over years of continuous growth and progress. Meanwhile, he attained a dominant place in the nation’s cereal industry and in the international manufacturing corporations. In addition to the company’s home office and plants in Battle Creek, he directed the Kellogg’s 14 plants around the world, including Canada, Mexico, England, South Africa, and Australia.
He succeeded the late W.K. Kellogg as president and later became chairman of the board. Mr. Kellogg died in 1951. During his time in Battle Creek, Mr. Vanderploeg became a trustee of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and took to heart the mission of the Foundation to help children and education. He truly believed that, “to have friends you must be one” and was very well-liked by his colleagues for having the “human touch.”
Battle Creek Enquirer “Industrialist, Civic Leader’s Funeral Friday”, May 28, 1957.