John Deere’s is the remarkable story of an ordinary man who took a discarded piece of rubbish and turned it into an empire.
That piece of rubbish—a broken sawmill blade—entered Deere’s life 180 years ago, in 1837. This humble piece of steel sparked the creation of the self-scouring plough, a tool that streamlined the ploughing process for farmers and set in motion a succession of innovations in the creative blacksmith’s mind.
Deere became an inventor and, just like Ford, Tesla and Edison, the integrity of his creations was of utmost importance to him. Early on, he promised:
“I will never put my name on a plow that does not have in it the best that is in me.”
Now, 180 years later, Deere’s is a household name, even among people who’ve never owned a piece of farming machinery. Still based in his hometown in Illinois, John Deere is now a fortune 500 company, trading in more than 42 countries, and employing over 50,000 people worldwide.
John Deere in Australia
150 years after its inception, John Deere expanded into Australia and New Zealand. So the company’s 180 year anniversary also marks 30 revolutions of our earth around the sun since Deere arrived on Aussie soil. 30 years may seem like small change in comparison to 180, but a lot has been achieved in that time. Deere merged with Australian tractor brand, Chamberlain and continued production while expanding into other areas, like specialised lawn mowers.
Many of the oldest Chamberlain and John Deere tractors are now slumbering in sheds and fields across Australia. The lucky ones are lovingly resurrected and spend their lives in parades, exhibitions, competitions and even working out in the fields.
John Deere’s 175 year anniversary
In recognition of their 175th anniversary, in 2012, the John Deere Foundation gifted a $175,000 grant to a program called “BackPack”. Created by Feeding America, the program works in conjunction with the National School Lunch and Breakfast programs to ensure children receive access to nutritious food, not just at school, but over the weekend. John Deere has been quietly supporting this cause since 2007.
Deere is equally philanthropic in Australia. The company has specific programs targeted at agricultural development to eradicate world hunger, community enrichment, and disaster relief. The Deere Foundation operates internationally, offering grants and establishing initiatives to improve quality of life for people at home and all over the world.
The future of John Deere
The company has some pretty spectacular stuff in store for its 180th year. CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2017, one of the biggest construction and agricultural expos in the world, will feature a futuristic, interactive display from Deere. Attendees at the Las Vegas event will get to sink in to a virtual reality experience with one of Deere’s new concept machines. There will also be real world machines to play with and a blend of the real and the virtual with “augmented reality integration”.
Deere has also released mobile apps, to complement their cloud-based Operations Centre. Their software allows users to connect to in-cab displays on their smartphone, to monitor performance during and after work.