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History of John Deere

Feb 14, 2017, 11:47 AM

John Deere is a brand as old and iconic as the Wild West. The brand, founded by Mr. John Deere himself, began when he wanted to help solve a problem faced by most of the earliest farmers: trying to tame the hard prairie land.

John Deere had a history of metal work reaching all the way back to a blacksmith apprenticeship he took at age 17. When he moved to the prairie, he saw farmers struggling to get used to the new terrain and he decided he could design a better tool for the job. By age 33, Deere invented the very first self-scouring steel plow, and the world of agricultural equipment was forever changed.

This new plow was very strong, but also specially shaped to meet the needs of the heavy, damp prairie soil. The polished steel could cut through the ground like no other tool, and it soon became the industry standard for efficient farm work. Ironically, he achieved his very first design by repurposing a broken saw blade!

In just a few years, John Deere was producing 100 plows per year on his own, and eventually began to seek partners to grow his business. By the time the brand was 21 years old, he was able to transfer most of the company responsibility to his son, Charles Deere, who was named the company’s vice president. With his son in charge of most of the business, John was able to spend his time on civic and political relations, which he greatly enjoyed.

As farmers evolved, the company evolved with them. John Deere was known to have said, “I will never put my name on a plow that does not have in it the best that is in me," and his legacy lives on in the way the John Deere company does business.

John Deere’s immediate successor, Charles Deere, focused on distribution, and expanded the product line. He also helped build the wholesale model that local agriculture equipment dealers use today. These dealers were able to work with their neighboring farmers personally to ensure everyone was working with the tool they needed. The product expansions eventually lead the company to create the very first of what might be John Deere’s most iconic piece of equipment: the tractor.

Now, after 175 years of hard work, John Deere’s name still means today what it meant to the first farmers of the west; integrity, quality, commitment and innovation. We work hard every day to make sure that farmers, ranchers, landowners and builders have nothing but the best available to them no matter how big the job. After all, nothing runs like a Deere.

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