Daryl Bouwkamp is the 2019 recipient of the Calvin Knight of Distinction Award.
Each year C Club, the Calvin College alumni athletic organization, recognizes a former Knight who has served God, church and community with the Christian character that was shaped in part by participation in the athletic program at Calvin College. Previous recipients of this award have been Dr. Anthony Diekema '56, Dr. Mark Veenstra '76, Gretchen Toxopeus Pyles, '91, Dr. Chris Holstege, '88 and Kelli Schutte '91.
Daryl is a 1990 Calvin College graduate where he was a standout in the classroom and on the baseball diamond.
He received his bachelor's degree in business administration from Calvin with an emphasis in economics.
After graduation, Daryl and his wife LeAnn moved back to his hometown of Pella, Iowa, with the intent of attending graduate school at the University of Iowa while also working part-time at the Vermeer Corporation. He later elected to forgo his graduate degree aspirations to accept a full-time position.
Over the last 28 years, he has held a wide variety of leadership positions within the company with an emphasis on international development.
Daryl supports International business development for Vermeer and directs its government relations, issue awareness and advocacy. From 1990-2006, Daryl developed and then led Vermeer's sales, marketing and distribution development in Latin America and Asia Pacific. From 2006-2012, Daryl helped organize and then served as Chairman of Vermeer China Ltd while also starting Vermeer Government Relations efforts.
Alongside government relations, policy, and business development, Daryl supports Vermeer's CEO and the Chair of the Board in their respective roles as members of key Government liaison councils, supporting them by serving in roles as Deputy Chair B20/G20 SME Task Force, Deputy B20/G20 Education & Employment Task Force, staff representative for President Obama's Export Council, Deputy US-Brazil CEO Forum, Deputy US Ex-Im Bank Advisory Council, and staff representative for President Trump's Advisory Council on Africa. Daryl currently chairs the Iowa District Export Council, the US Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) Trade Policy Group, and serves on the Greater Des Moines International Council, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) Public Policy Steering Committee, the Iowa Advisory Council of the US Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC), as a Trustee of Dordt College, and on local school and church boards/councils.
He began his Calvin baseball career in an unusual way. As a high school standout at Pella Christian, Daryl was a shortstop and pitcher. Upon arriving at Calvin, he found that the shortstop position was manned by a veteran ace while his pitching career was curtailed due to a back injury that was aggravated by twisting on the mound. One position that was open however was catcher – a position he had never played before.
"Coach (Jeff) Pettinga asked if I would be willing to try catcher and I found that I loved it," said Bouwkamp. "I loved being a part of every play and I loved the strategy between the hitter and pitcher."
Over the next four years, Daryl was a four-year starter at the catcher's position.
As a junior in 1989, he was named to the All-MIAA Second Team after batting .324 in league play.
A highlight of the year was always the team's annual spring trip to Florida. "I was always a warm weather guy," he said. "In Iowa, the high school baseball season is played in the late spring and summer. It took me awhile to get used to the cold Michigan spring season. When we were down south, I loved playing ball in the warm weather. "
He also recalls the camaraderie on the team trips. "The bus rides, chewing sunflower seeds in the dugouts and just shooting the breeze with my teammates are wonderful memories that still stand out to me today," he said. "It was just great to be part of a team and finding ways to work together."
As he grew into various roles in his professional career, Daryl found lessons learned at Calvin as a student-athlete translated to his day-to-day vocation. "As a baseball player I came in at one position but was called to fill another," he said. "I've found over my career that looking to fill the position that God is calling you to fill is the way to lead your life. I thought that I was headed to graduate school but I was called to fill a need at Vermeer. Then I was asked if I would help start our (Vermeer) business in China and start its government affairs. Serving as a church elder, on various school boards or in the community have also been ways of following God's leading."
Daryl and his wife LeAnn are the parents of four children, Maria, Thomas, Elizabeth and Benjamin.