10 Interesting Facts about John Deere
There is certainly a lot to cover when it comes to the rich 175 year history of John Deere. Despite being from Vermont, John Deere revolutionized farming in the Midwest when he forged his first steel plow at his blacksmith shop in Illinois in 1837. In 1962, a University of Illinois archaeological team unearthed the exact location of the blacksmith shop where John Deere developed the first successful steel plow in 1837. The site is now preserved by an exhibit hall complete with a simulated conversation between John and Demarius Deere talking about their every events on the farm and his development of the self-polishing steel plow that eventually opened the prairie to agriculture.
Here are 10 Random Facts about John Deere the man and the company
GO WEST YOUNG MAN
JOHN DEERE STARTED WORKING AS A BLACKSMITH WHEN HE WAS 17. As a young journeyman blacksmith in Middlebury, Vermont, John Deere soon gained fame for his considerable workmanship and ingenuity. It was a golden age of the burgeoning pioneer and John headed west to join the adventure. It took him many weeks by canal boat, lake boat and stagecoach to reach Grand Detour, Illinois – a journey of more than a thousand miles that could easily be accomplished in 16 hours by car today.
The cast iron plows the pioneers used were designed for sandy New England and proved no match for the rich Midwestern soil. So Deere decided to come up with something better, he took an old steel saw blade and made a plow with a properly shaped moldboard and share that scoured itself as it turned the furrow slice, basically it was a self-cleaning plow blade that made the hard work fast.
In his day it was common practice for blacksmiths to build tools as customers ordered them, however seeing the future as it was, Deere decided to start hammering out the new plows without orders. It was an entirely new way of doing business and made John Deere a very popular man.
NOTHING RUNS LIKE A DEER
At age 33, John Deere worked as a blacksmith and designed his first plow for Midwestern farmers. The polished-steel plow became popular due to its ability to cut through sticky prairie soil and resulted in demand for Deere to build more over the next five years. Ten years after he developed his first plow, Deere was producing a 1000 plows a year. Many years later in 1911, the company purchased the Waterloo Gasoline Traction Engine Company and tractors were added to production line. By 1955 they were the leading producer of farm equipment in the world. Today, the company has become globally renowned with net sales exceeding $640 million dollars.
The famous leaping deer logo has gone through several changes over the years. Deere first registered it for use in 1876, it read “John Deere – Moline, Illinois”. Interestingly, the first deer to appear on the logo was an African deer and not the American white tail used today. Over the years the wording changed and the deer was simplified into line art versus the illustration style of the original. Eventually the deer as the only thing on the logo and it simply read, “John Deere”. The clean cut 1968 version was updated in 200 with the deer leaping up and forward rather than down and forward. The famous green and yellow leaping deer logo has become a hip and modern symbol of John Deere’s and Americans’ ingenuity and integrity.
The John Deere Classic, a charitable golf tournament is played on a course built in the Friendship Farm in Illinois. For many years the farm had been one of the top Arabian horse breeding operations in the United States and the property still maintains a natural beauty to this day. In 2003, $1.5 million dollars was donated to more than 400 charities to benefit children, families and handicapped individuals. This is just one of the many reasons that John Deere was named one of the 100 Best Corporate Citizens for 2002 by Business Ethics magazine.
WHEN JOHN DEERE EMPLOYEES WERE UNABLE TO FIND AFFORDABLE HOUSING, THE COMPANY BUILT THEIR OWN.Along with the Deere family estate, the company built 50 homes in Moline to rent to its employees in 1909. By 1920, John Deere housed another 315 employees and their families, and built over 100 more houses after World War II.
In 1912, John Deere and Company went international when a manufacturing entity opened in Canada. Starting in 1956, the company decided to build plants in Mexico, Germany, and Spain. Over the next few years, France, Argentina, and South Africa were thrown into the mix. There are now 104 John Deere locations across the globe—43 in the U.S. alone.
In 1894, a bicycle craze swept the country and the Deere Company jumped at the opportunity. For the next few years, the Deere Leader, the Deere Roadster, and the Moline Special were manufactured but production stopped when the fad lost steam.
In 1998, the company hit a historic financial landmark when it hit $1 billion in profit. This was a first not only for John Deere but for the entire agricultural equipment industry.
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