John Deere (February 7, 1804 – May 17, 1886) was an American blacksmith and manufacturer who founded Deere & Company, one of the largest and leading agricultural and construction equipment manufacturers in the world. Born in Rutland, Vermont, Deere moved to Illinois and invented the first commercially successful steel plow in 1837. After a meager education, he was apprenticed in 1821 at age 17 to Captain Benjamin Lawrence, a prosperous Middlebury blacksmith, and entered the trade for himself in 1825.
John Deere settled in Grand Detour, Illinois. At the time, Deere had no difficulty finding work due to a lack of blacksmiths working in the area. Deere found that cast-iron plows were not working very well in the tough prairie soil of Illinois and remembered the needles he had previously polished by running them through sand as he grew up in his father's tailor shop in Rutland, Vermont. Deere came to the conclusion that a plow made out of highly polished steel and a correctly shaped moldboard (the self-scouring steel plow) would be better able to handle the soil conditions of the prairie, especially its sticky clay.
The wrought-iron framed plow had a polished steel share. This made it ideal for the tough soil of the Midwest and worked better than other plows. By early 1838, Deere completed his first steel plowand sold it to a local farmer, Lewis Crandall, who quickly spread word of his success with Deere's plow. Subsequently two neighbors soon placed orders with Deere. By 1841, Deere was manufacturing 75-100 plows per year.
In 1843, Deere partnered with Leonard Andrus to produce more plows to keep up with demand. In 1848, Deere dissolved the partnership with Andrus and moved to Moline, Illinois, because the city was a transportation hub on the Mississippi River. By 1855, Deere's factory sold more than 10,000 such plows. It became known as "The Plow that Broke the Plains" and is commemorated as such in a historic place marker in Vermont.
Deere insisted on making high-quality equipment. He once said, "I will never put my name on a product that does not have in it the best that is in me." Following the Panic of 1857, as business improved, Deere left the day-to-day operations to his son Charles.
In 1868, Deere incorporated his business as Deere & Company. He served as President of the National Bank of Moline, a director of the Moline Free Public Library, and was a trustee of the First Congregational Church. Deere also served as Moline's mayor for two years but due to chest pains and dysentery Deere refused to run for a second term. He died at home (known as Red Cliff).
John Deere, is an American corporation based in Moline, Illinois, and one of the largest manufacturers of agricultural machinery in the world. In 2012, it was listed as 97th in the Fortune 500 America's ranking and 348th in the Fortune Global 500 ranking. Deere and Company agricultural products, sold under the John Deere name, include tractors, combine harvesters, cotton harvesters, balers, planters/seeders, sprayers, and UTVs. The company is also a manufacturer of construction equipment and forestry equipment, as well as a supplier of diesel engines and drivetrains (axles, transmissions, gearboxes) used in heavy equipment. Additionally, John Deere manufactures equipment used in lawn, grounds, and turf care, such as walk-behind lawn mowers, zero-turn lawn mowers, lawn tractors, and snowthrowers. To support the core businesses, John Deere also provides financial services and other related activities.
Deere & Company began when John Deere, born in Rutland, Vermont, USA on February 7, 1804, moved to Grand Detour, Illinois in 1836 in order to escape bankruptcy in Vermont. Already an established blacksmith, Deere opened a 1,378 square feet (128 m2) shop in Grand Detour in 1837 which allowed him to serve as a general repairman in the village, as well as a manufacturer of small tools such as pitchforks and shovels.
What was more successful than these small tools was Deere's cast-steel plow, which was pioneered in 1837. Deere's production of plows began slowly, but increased greatly when he departed from the traditional business model of making equipment as it was ordered and instead began to manufacture plows before they were ordered and then put them up for sale. This allowed customers to see what they were buying beforehand, and word of the product began to spread quickly.
The business continued to expand until 1857, when the company's production totals reached almost 1,120 implements per month. Then, in 1858 a nationwide financial recession took a toll on the company.
Increased competition during the early 1900s from the new International Harvester Company led the company to expand its offerings in the implement business, but it was the production of gasoline tractors which would come to define Deere & Company's operations during the twentieth century.
In 1912, Deere & Company president William Butterworth began the company's expansion into the tractor business. Deere & Company briefly experimented with its own tractor models, the most successful of which was the Dain All-Wheel-Drive, but in the end decided to continue its foray into the tractor business by purchasing the Waterloo Gasoline Engine Company in 1918, which manufactured the popular Waterloo Boy tractor at its facilities in Waterloo, Iowa. Deere & Company continued to sell tractors under the Waterloo Boy name until 1923, when the John Deere Model D was introduced.
As of 2006, Deere & Company employs approximately 49,000 people in 27 countries worldwide, including the United States, Australia, Turkey, Canada, United Kingdom, China, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, India, Poland, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Morocco and South Africa, among many others and is the largest agriculture machinery company in the world. Inside the United States, the company's primary locations are its administrative center in Moline, Illinois and manufacturing factories in central and southeastern United States.
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