History

1837 John Deere fashions a polished-steel plow that lets pioneer farmers cut clean furrows through sticky Midwest prairie soil.

1838 John Deere, blacksmith, evolves into John Deere, manufacturer. Later he remembers building 10 plows in 1839, 75 in 1841, and 100 in 1842.

1843 Deere and Leonard Andrus become “co-partners in the art and trade of blacksmithing, plow-making and all things thereto…”

1848 The growing plow business moves to Moline, 75 miles southwest of Grand Detour. Moline offers water power and transportation advantages. Deere chooses a new partner, Robert N. Tate, who moves to Moline and raises the rafters on their three-story blacksmith shop by July 28.

1852 Deere buys out his partners. For the next 16 years, the company is known variously as John Deere, John Deere & Company, Deere & Company, and Moline Plow Manufactory.
1858 The business totters during a nationwide financial panic. Maneuverings to avoid bankruptcy shuffle ownership and managerial arrangements. John Deere remains titular president, but managerial power passes to Charles Deere.

1859 Charles Deere takes over at age 21, and runs the company for 49 years.

1861 Civil War begins. Midwest farmers and their suppliers prosper during the war years as Army demand and European crop failures boost crop prices.

1868 After 31 years as a partnership or single proprietorship, the concern is incorporated under the name Deere & Company. There are four shareholders at first, six within a year. Charles and John Deere control 65 percent of the stock.

1876 Noting sagging business prospects and skyrocketing bad debts, the company institutes a ten-percent wage cut. A brief strike ends and workers return to work on the company’s terms. The “leaping deer” trademark appears.

1886 John Deere dies in Moline at 82.

1907 Charles Deere dies. William Butterworth, his son-in-law, becomes CEO. The company establishes a non-contributory pension plan for employees with 20 or more years of service who have passed age 65.

1912 The modern Deere & Company emerges. It consists of 11 manufacturing entities in the US and one in Canada, and 25 sales organizations—20 in the US, including an export department, and five in Canada. The company also operates a sawmill and owns 41,731 acres of timberland in Arkansas and Louisiana. Harvester Works built in East Moline.

1923 Deere launches the Model “D”. A success from the start and the first two-cylinder Waterloo-built tractor to bear the John Deere name, it would stay in the product line for 30 years.

1930 Consolidations leave only seven full-line farm equipment companies: John Deere, IH, Case, Oliver, Allis-Chalmers, Minneapolis-Moline, and Massey-Harris. Deere and IH dominate most product categories.

1932 The Great Depression hardens, forcing massive layoffs, pay and pension cuts, shortened hours, and a temporary end to paid vacations. A 1920s savings innovation, the Thrift Plan, eases the burden for some employees. John Deere continues group insurance for the unemployed, lowers rent in company housing, and starts “make work” projects.

1935 John Deere, strong in wheeled tractors, and Caterpillar, dominant in tracked tractors, join forces to sell each other’s products, especially in California. Strong at first, the link weakens with time, breaking finally in the mid-1960s.

1942 Charles Deere Wiman accepts a commission as an Army colonel. Burton Peek succeeds him as interim company president. Before returning to Deere in 1944, Wiman briefly directs the farm machinery and equipment division of the War Production Board.

1943 Deere makes military tractors, ammunition, aircraft parts, and cargo and mobile laundry units during the war. About 4,500 employees serve in the military, some in the “John Deere” Battalion, a specialized ordnance group that sees service in Europe.

1955 William A. Hewitt is elected president and later CEO following the death of
Charles Deere Wiman, his father-in-law. He will direct the company for the next 27 years, the last representative of the Deere family to do so.

1958 The John Deere Credit Company, financier of domestic purchases of John Deere equipment, begins operations.

1962 John Deere marks its 125th anniversary. Construction begins on a product-engineering center at Dubuque, Iowa. Company buys a majority interest in South African Cultivators, a farm implement firm near Johannesburg.

1964 The Deere & Company Administrative Center opens. Designed by Eero Saarinen, it will win many architectural awards. Goals of the company and the principles behind its basic policies and procedures are outlined in the “Green Bulletins”.

1971 “Nothing Runs Like a Deere” advertises snowmobiles, a new product of the
John Deere Horicon Works. The slogan lasts far longer than the snowmobile line, which is sold in 1984.

1979 Employment reaches an all-time high of 65,392. Sales top $5 billion, earnings $310 million, both records.

1981 The John Deere Tractor Works in Waterloo becomes fully operational. It wins an award for excellence in using computers in U.S. manufacturing.

1982 Robert A. Hanson succeeds retiring Chairman William A. Hewitt.

1985 John Deere Health Care, Inc. is formed. Its subsidiary, Heritage National Healthplan, grows by century’s end into a health-care provider for more than 700 employers and over 400,000 members in five states.

2000 Hans Becherer reaches retirement, and Robert W. Lane is elected CEO. Deere acquires Timberjack, a world-leading producer of forestry equipment. A new tractor plant is opened near Pune, India. Credit offices are established in Argentina and Brazil. Deere is granted banking license in Luxembourg, allowing John Deere Credit ability to finance equipment throughout Europe.

2007 Deere & Company stockholders approve a two-for-one stock split, increasing the number of common shares to 1,200 million shares. A new tractor manufacturing facility is acquired in Ningbo, China. Deere & Company completes its acquisition of LESCO, Inc., a leading supplier of lawn care, landscape, golf course and pest control products. John Deere is chosen by Ethisphere magazine for its list of the World’s 100 Most Ethical Companies.

Information taken from John Deere Time line

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