The quality of a company is expressed through the quality of its leadership. For more than 180 years, John Deere has benefited from visionary and disciplined leaders at its helm. In 2020, John May became just the 10th person to run this storied company.
We work every day to uphold our founder’s core values. Integrity, quality, commitment, and innovation are more than ideals we work toward. They are values we live and breathe – values found in every product, service, and opportunity we offer.
Since our founding in 1837, John Deere has delivered products and services to support those linked to the land. Read about our past, what we learn from it, and how we use it to improve every day.Learn More About Our History
In Grand Detour, Illinois, blacksmith John Deere hears farmers’ concerns that their plows, designed for the sandy soil of the eastern United States, aren’t shedding the thick prairie soil. In response, Deere fashions a highly polished steel mold board from a broken sawblade.
John Deere, blacksmith, evolves into John Deere, manufacturer. Later he remembers building 10 plows in 1839, 75 in 1841, and 100 in 1842.
After ten years in Grand Detour, John Deere forms a new partnership and moves to Moline, situated on the Mississippi River with water power and transportation options. His new state-of-the-art plow factory doubles production the next year.
John Deere buys out his partners after a disagreement over product quality. When confronted by his partner that customers would buy whatever they make, Deere responded “They haven’t got to take what we make and somebody else will beat us and we will lose our trade.”
The business totters during a nationwide financial panic. Maneuverings to avoid bankruptcy shuffle ownership and managerial arrangements. John Deere remains president, but managerial power passes to 21-year-old Charles Deere. He will run the company for the next 49 years.
Deere launches the Hawkeye Riding Cultivator, its first implement adapted for riding. One innovation is a wooden peg that breaks when it hits a solid object, saving the shovels. Deere & Company will introduce a similar concept on plows in 1950 with Sure-Trip safety-trip.
John Deere receives his first patent. It’s for the molds used in casting steel plows. Another is granted soon after, and a third in 1865.
After 31 years as a partnership or single proprietorship, the business is incorporated as Deere & Company. There are four initial shareholders, and John and Charles Deere own 65-percent of the stock.
Charles Deere and entrepreneur Alvah Mansur establish the first branch house in Kansas City, Missouri. A semi-independent distributor, it is the forerunner of the company’s current sales organization. Within 20 years there are five branches across the country.
John Deere is elected mayor of Moline and serves two years. He is credited with driving infrastructure improvements such as streets, sidewalks, lighting and sewer.
Deere registers the leaping deer trademark with the U.S. Patent Office. It is the longest continuously used American trademark among Fortune 500 companies.
Deere & Mansur Company is formed in Moline to manufacture corn planters. A separate organization from the similarly named Kansas City branch, it will become part of Deere & Company in 1910. Today, planters are still made on the original site at John Deere Seeding, Moline, IL.
The Gilpin Sulky Plow, introduced in 1875, defeats 50 other plows in a field trial at the Paris Universal Exposition, winning the first place Sevres vase valued at 1,000 francs. Unit sales the following year rise to 5,198, and reach a height of 7,824 in 1883.
Deere & Company put into operation the first electric light power plant in Rock Island County. Purchased from the Brush Electric Company of Chicago, 1 dynamo, 16 single lamps, 1 switch and 400 carbons were installed at a total cost of more than $3,000. It was the first electricity in the area.
The five best-selling products between 1879 and 1883 are walking plows, Gilpin sulkies, cultivators, shovel plows, and harrows. Walking plows account for more unit sales (224,062) than the other four combined.
Founder John Deere dies at the age of 82. Just a few months before, he tells someone that "during his long life it had been a great source of consolation to him to know that he had never willfully wronged any man and never put on the market a poorly made article."
John Froehlich tests the first successful, gasoline powered tractor. In 1918, John Deere will acquire the successor company, the Waterloo Gasoline Engine Company.
The World's Columbian Exposition is hosted in Chicago. Charles Deere serves as one of two representatives from the state of Illinois. He orders copper deer statues, which today can still be seen outside of many John Deere facilities.
The Furrow begins publication as “A Journal for the American Farmer.” The magazine’s distribution grows to 4 million readers by 1912. Today, it is published in 14 languages and read in 115 countries making it the most widely circulated farm magazine in the world.
Long-time president Charles Deere dies, and is succeeded by son-in-law William Butterworth. During his 21-year tenure, annual sales would grow from $4.5 million to $61 million, and Deere would become leaders in both the harvesting and tractor business.
To centralize the export of equipment worldwide, the John Deere Export Department incorporates in New York City. In 1911, Frank Silloway becomes manager and travels to South America, England, France, Austria, and Russia.
After several years of consolidations and acquisitions, Deere & Company now counts planters, buggies, wagons, grain drills, and hay and harvesting equipment among its products. Sales grow from $5.2 million in 1910 to $30.7 million in 1913.
John Deere enters the tractor business. In the midst of the launch of the All-Wheel Drive Tractor, Deere buys the Waterloo Gasoline Engine Company, manufacturers of Waterloo Boy tractors. The company sells 5,634 Waterloo Boy tractors in its first year.
An oversaturated and speculative tractor market results in industry over-production and widespread fraud. As a result, the Nebraska Tractor Tests are introduced to implement industry standards for performance. Test Number 001 features a John Deere Waterloo Boy N tractor.
Deere introduces its first combine, the 35-hp No.2, available with a 12' or 16' platform. A year later, Deere adds the smaller No. 1, which featured an 8', 10' or 12' cutter bar.
William Butterworth is elected president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Charles Deere Wiman, an army pilot decommissioned as captain after World War I, is named president. Butterworth maintains influence in the newly created position of Chairman of the Board.
Responding to the impact of The Great Depression, the company took on $12 million in farmer notes, and extended terms on already purchased tractors and power farming machinery. As a result, sales fell 86% between 1930 and 1932, but strong farmer loyalty resulted.
Despite hard financial times, Deere continues to introduce new products, including the Model “A” tractor. The similar, but smaller, Model “B” is produced the next year. These two models will remain in production until 1952.
The Model “DI” tractor, John Deere’s first tractor built exclusively for industrial use, is introduced.
Emerging from the Great Depression, John Deere celebrates its 100th anniversary by achieving over $100 million in sales for the first time in company history.
Industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss, working with Deere engineers, streamlines the "A" and "B" Tractors. Concern for attractive design joins traditional utilitarian values as hallmarks of John Deere products.
President 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.
Deere makes military tractors, ammunition, aircraft parts, and cargo and mobile laundry units during World War II. The John Deere Battalion, comprised of employees and dealers, repair tanks in Belgium and France during the War.
The Model “M” Tractor is built at the new John Deere Dubuque Works. Two years later, the “M” is produced as a crawler, called the “MC.” With a front blade, it becomes a bulldozer. The versatile product is a precursor to John Deere’s construction and forestry businesses.
The No.8 Cotton Picker becomes the first two-row self-propelled machine on the market. It’s rapidly rotating barbed spindles pick only the cotton from the ripe bolls each time during two or three pickings.
John Deere combines the tasks of picking and shelling corn for the first time. A two-row corn head is introduced; coupled with a new Model 45 Combine, it enables a farmer to harvest up to 20 acres of corn in a single operation.
Deere builds a small-tractor assembly plant in Mexico and buys a majority interest in Heinrich Lanz, a German tractor and harvester maker with a small presence in Spain. Today, John Deere does business around the world, with operations in 35 countries.
The 14T Baler produces well-formed, twine-tied bales. With the industry-first No.1 Bale Ejector, short rectangular bales can be thrown into a wagon, making haying a one-man operation for the first time.
Deere introduces the new Industrial Equipment division, complete with dealerships and a full line of construction equipment. The 440 Crawler is the first of the company’s all-yellow machines built specifically for industrial applications.
The John Deere Credit Company, financier of domestic purchases of John Deere equipment, begins operations. The new company consolidated the financing operations of sales branches and dealers to provide a more efficient and competitive financing options.
Four “New Generation of Power” tractor models steal the show at Deere Day in Dallas. The completely new line of four- and six- cylinder tractors offer more horsepower than the two-cylinder models Deere had produced for more than 40 years.
The Consumer Equipment division, today’s Turf business, enters the consumer market with lawn and garden tractors plus attachments such as mowers and snow blowers.
The Deere & Company Administrative Center, today's World Headquarters, opens. Designed by Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen, it will win many architectural awards.
The John Deere 440 Skidder brought operators a new level of comfort and safety with a canopy, side armor and leg shields. It featured four-wheel drive, articulated power steering, 42 flywheel horsepower, and "5-tons of advanced engineering."
John Deere introduces the first commercially available rollover protective structures for farm tractors. The company later shares the patent for this important safety feature with the industry at no charge.
The addition of frame articulation enabled operators to move on slopes, on windrows and in ditches, while the back wheels stayed on solid footing.
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.
Four new “Generation II” tractor models reach the market. The new models boost operator safety and comfort with exclusive Sound-Gard bodies.
The John Deere 743 Tree Harvester combines the speed of rubber tires with the reach of a boom, paving the way for today’s modern harvesters.
John Deere introduces the industry’s first four-row cotton picker. Field tests indicate it will increase an operator’s productivity by as much as 85%.
Deere celebrates its 150th anniversary. Continued low farm income and lower Deere sales lead to a net loss of $99 million.
A joint venture is formed with Japanese company Hitachi to assemble excavators in the United States.
John Deere launches the Gator Utility Vehicle line. The 6x4 model can haul 800 pounds in its cargo box and tow 1,200 pounds.
The 8000 Series tractor debuts and establishes new standards in control, visibility, maneuverability and power. The tractor introduces a patented chassis designed for industry-leading turn radius, new transmission and updated cab.
Deere offers the first fully integrated yield-mapping package, the GreenStar™ system, for all Maximizer™ 9000 series combines. It provided on-the-go yield and moisture readings, differentially corrected position information, data processing, storage and transfer, and yield-mapping capabilities.
Deere acquires Cameco Industries, producer of sugarcane harvesting equipment, and partners with Hitachi Construction Machinery Co., Ltd. to manufacture excavator-based logging machines. The Deere-Hitachi joint venture produces products in Canada, Brazil and the U.S.
John Deere acquires Timberjack, a world-leading producer of forestry equipment, and Waratah, a forestry harvester head manufacturer, becoming the undisputed worldwide leader in the forestry business. John Deere opens a new tractor plant near Pune, India.
John Deere Tianjin Works, a new transmission factory, opens in Tianjin, China. The next year Deere acquires a tractor manufacturing factory in Ningbo, China.
Deere introduces the first cotton picker that builds round cotton modules on the go. The innovative machine offers non-stop harvesting and higher quality cotton, reducing the need for additional equipment in the field.
Deere is the first company to ship construction equipment with above 175-horsepower engines certified to meet rigorous U.S. Interim Tier 4 emissions standards. Deere's first 2-row sugarcane harvester is introduced at the company's largest product introduction in Latin America to date.
In 2012, Deere & Company celebrates the 175th anniversary of the company’s founding. An innovative answer to the needs of farmers became the foundation for more than 175 years of commitment to those linked to the land.
"The Smithsonian Magazine" selects John Deere's plow as one of the "101 Objects that Made America." The plow was chosen from 137 million artifacts held by the Smithsonian’s 19 museums and research centers to include on a list of items that changed the course of U.S. History.
John Deere’s Intelligent Solutions Group further advances productivity by integrating technology with equipment. Using products that collect, transfer, store and analyze data, customers can meet the needs of the growing world population.
At the end of 2017 John Deere acquired the Wirtgen Group, the leading manufacturer worldwide in the road construction industry. The Wirtgen Group complements Deere's construction equipment product line, enhancing its ability to serve customers across the globe.
John Deere is very selective when choosing our suppliers and dealers. We must both totally support John Deere core values: integrity, quality, commitment, and innovation. If this is the way you define your business and your work ethics, then you may benefit from a relationship with John Deere.