History of John Deere
– By Pioneer Auto Museum
John Deere is a company that manufactures agricultural, construction, and forestry machines. John Deere was actually a blacksmith and manufacturer who founded Deere & Company back in 1837. John Deere heard concerns from farmers about how their plows weren’t working for thick prairie soil so he worked his magic to provide them with a proper plow. This is when steel plows were developed. Starting with 10 plows in 1839, by the time it was 1842, John Deere built 100.
After 10 years, John Deere opened his new plow factory which doubles in production the year after opening it. The company ended up producing other tools for its steel plows. In 1858, John’s son Charles Deere took over the managing at the age of 21. He ran the company for the next 49 years. John Deere didn’t receive his first patent until 1864. The name Deere & Company came about in 1868. Four initial shareholders were part of this company but John and Charles Deere owned over half of it.
During Charles Deere’s term as a leader, he established the first branch house in Missouri which acted as a semi-independent distributor. From this point on, there were five branches in the country within 20 years. Charles Deere worked on the marketing side of the business to help it grow.
The legendary leaping deer trademark was finally patented in 1876, and to this day it is the longest used American trademark among Fortune 500 companies. In 1878, the Gilpin Sulky Plow won first place at the Paris Universal Exposition leading to sales increasing each year. John Deere died at the age of 82 in 1886.
In 1907, Charles Deere died and the business was taken over by his son-in-law William Butterworth. Deere & Company became leaders in both harvesting and tractor business. By 1910, sales grew to 30.7 million dollars due to the company manufacturing planters, wagons, buggies, and harvesting equipment. The export of equipment worldwide was made popular in 1908 as the John Deere Export Department forms in New York City.
John Deere actually entered the tractor business in 1918, 81 years after the start of the company. In 1927, John Deere manufactured its first combine. The Great Depression was a hard time for everyone and the John Deere Company took a loss in sales. Even through the struggles the current president Charles Deere Wiman found a way for the company to reach over 100 million dollars in sales.
Due to Charles Deere Wiman being in the military, John Deere started making military tractors, cargo units, and ammunition for World War II. In 1947, the Model “MC” became a bulldozer that started John Deere’s construction and forestry business. The company was established as one of the nation’s largest manufacturing businesses by 1955. William Hewitt was the next president of John Deere where he established the company worldwide. At this point, Deere & Company was the leading producer of farm equipment in the world. In 1958, John Deere released its Industrial equipment division.
In 1964, the Deere & Company grew so much they needed a headquarters. This opened in Moline, Illinois. John Deere introduced its first rollover protective structures for tractors in 1966. This allowed farmers and operators to feel comfortable and safe. As the company grew more and more, John Deere needed ways to keep up with the competition. In 1979, they introduced their first cotton picker that allowed farmers to pick four rows at a time. This was said to increase productivity by 85%.
1987 brought more hard times for farmers which led to Deere losing 99 million dollars. This didn’t stop Deere & Company from manufacturing new products. In 1994, the 8000 Series tractor was released and showcased a new transmission, industry-leading turn radius, and new standards in visibility and power. By 2000, John Deere was a world-leading producer of forestry equipment.
John Deere celebrated their 175th anniversary in 2012. The company has been growing and adapting with the changing times. They now integrate technology into the equipment to help collect, store, and analyze data. John Deere has always met the needs of the world. Stop by Pioneer Auto Show to see how John Deere’s history has changed and impacted the industry over time.
“I will never put my name on a product that does not have in it the best that is in me.” – John Deere