The iconic green and yellow has been a leading force in the global agricultural community, powering farms around the world and helping feed the global population.
With nearly two centuries of manufacturing experience under its belt, it is no wonder John Deere is the brand of choice for many farmers when it comes to quality farm machinery, but there is so much more to the brand than meets the eye.
Here are some interesting tidbits on John Deere you might not know.
1. Deere has been using its trademarked leaping deer logo since 1876
John Deere logo in 1876 (L) and John Deere logo in 2020 (R)
Deere…deer…no surprises there on why a deer was used in the company logo. The leaping deer logo was first conceived and used in the 1870s and have been refined over the years to resemble the simpler, sleeker and modern iteration today. It wasn’t clear what type of deer was portrayed in the earlier logos but from around 1950s onwards, the deer used in the logo is a North American white-tailed deer.
The latest version which we see today, unveiled in 2000, showed the deer leaping upwards instead of landing for the first time, reflecting the company’s commitment to be ahead of the curve and leading in its industries.
2. John Deere once made snowmobiles and bicycles
Even as a young company back in the late 19th century, John Deere knew the importance of changing with the times to cater to the masses.
Back in the 1890s, a period fondly known as the Gay Nineties in the United States, a bicycle craze took hold of the population. That was a decade when “safety bicycles” were developed that has equal sized wheels, pneumatic tyres and chain-drive transmission. All of a sudden, people of all genders and ages stopped penny-farthing and instead turned towards these modern, safer bicycles.
John Deere decided to hop on that bandwagon and started producing safety bicycles such as the Deere Roadster and Moline Special over the next few years until the craze eventually died down in a few years.
A John Deere bicycle. Image credit: Walimai.photo via Flickr
Similarly in the 1970s, there was a frenzy surrounding snowmobiles and John Deere once again jumped at that business opportunity to produce its range of snowmobiles. It even became the official supplier of snowmobiles for the 1980 Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid, New York.
In fact, Deere’s official slogan “Nothing Runs Like A Deere” originally came from the marketing of its snowmobile range. After about ten years of making snowmobiles, Deere ceased production of that range in the mid-1980s.
3. John Deere started the business making ploughs, and has never seen a tractor in his life
John Deere started his business making steel ploughs
The company had its roots all the way back in 1837 when founder, John Deere, made his first steel mouldboard plough from a broken sawblade.
However, the company didn’t get involved with tractor production until 1918, some 32 years after John Deere’s death.
Between then and when Deere founded his company, the business made ploughs, harrows, cultivators, corn planters, bicycles, wagons, grain drills and hay and harvesting equipment.
4. Deere has churned out over 700 different tractor models
As aforementioned, John Deere entered the tractor business in 1918 after acquiring the Waterloo Gasoline Engine Company. From there, the business sold 5634 Waterloo Boy tractors in its first year of takeover.
From there, John Deere has went on to produce over 700 models of tractors, including tracked tractors, utility tractors, compact tractors, high-horsepowered tractors and more. *
5. John Deere formed its own battalion and served in the US Army during World War II
In 1942, John Deere recruited a number of dealers and employees to form the John Deere Battalion to service and repair tanks in Belgium and France during the War.
The company also made a number of military tractors, ammunition, aircraft parts and cargo and mobile laundry units for use during WWII.
6. John Deere put out the first edition of its agricultural journal, The Furrow, in 1895
The magazine was believed to be the first content marketing publication in the world, long before the term “content marketing” was even coined. It contained articles promoting its own products, stories of farmers using John Deere products and more.
The magazine attracted up to 500,000 readers by 1907 and is still published today, in 14 languages across 115 countries.
7. There has only been 10 CEOs since the company’s inception
Current John Deere CEO, John C. May
For a company that is almost 200 years old, that is a pretty impressive feat. Out of the 10 CEOs, five were members of the Deere family.
In November 2019, John C. May stepped into the role of CEO, taking over from Samuel R. Allen who held the position for almost 10 years.
8. The John Deere green and yellow colour combination is trademarked…
…As discovered by another farm equipment manufacturer the hard way. In 2017, John Deere filed a trademark infringement and dilution lawsuit against FIMCO Inc, accusing the company of manufacturing its equipment in Deere’s signature green and yellow and potentially misleading consumers to think both brands are associated.
The judge ruled in favour of John Deere saying the green and yellow qualified as a “famous” trademark, meaning it is “widely recognised by the general consuming public of the United States as a designation of source of the goods or services of the mark’s owner”.*
So if you’re thinking of painting your own machine or belongings to remotely resemble a John Deere product, even if it’s simply to show loyalty to the brand, it’s best to think again.
9. John Deere was one of the earliest developers and adopters of GPS and auto steer tech
While self-driving cars are still a concept for now, farmers have been letting their tractors drive themselves for over 10 years. John Deere was one of the earlier agricultural companies to utilise GPS for farming purposes, for example combining GPS location data with readings from sensors on a harvesting combine to determine crop yield on different parts of the field.
John Deere started looking into systems that could let tractors steer themselves while manoeuvring and working in crop rows. In 2003, it has developed its own system with the help of Navcom that is accurate down to an inch or so, but that system was fraught with frequent signal loss issues.
It wasn’t until 2004 that John Deere formed a partnership with NASA that enables the company to tap into NASA’s global network of ground stations and utilise NASA’s JPL’s (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) software that streams satellite tracking data in real time via the Internet. *
Deere successfully modified its StarFire GPS receivers to receive accurate information down to a few inches and allowed Deere to finally offer self-driving agricultural equipment to its customers.
10. There are John Deere attractions and museums in the United States you can visit
Visitors can try their hand at operating machinery in a virtual reality environment at the John Deere Pavilion
Well, not at this very moment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but John Deere has a number of attractions diehard fans can visit to quench their thirst for everything Deere related, when the time is right.
There is a John Deere Pavilion in the company’s birthplace of Moline, Illinois, that allows visitors to hop into machines and try their hands at driving them, albeit in a virtual reality environment.
State-of-the-art simulators allow people to experience driving excavators, dozers, combines and even swing machines and learn a thing or two about how these machines contribute to their respective industries.
A John Deere Historic Site in Grand Detour, Illinois, gives visitors a good look into John Deere’s history where they can watch real blacksmiths recreate Deere’s plough, and even tour the Deere family home back in the 19th century.
Visitors to John Deere's Historic Site in Grand Detour, Illinois, can witness demonstrations by real blacksmiths in a replica of John Deere's workshop in the 19th century.
Then there is the John Deere Tractor & Engine Museum in Waterloo, Iowa, that houses a massive collection of John Deere machinery, both old and new. Visitors will learn all about machines Deere has developed from its early days, from its early ploughs, to horse drawn implements to the engine powered equipment we have today.
Article info and image credit: John Deere unless otherwise stated
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It is a source of consolation to me to know that I never willfully wronged any man and that I never put on the market a poorly-made implement. Strike while the iron is hot. [In 1837 on making his first steel plow] She's finished.What was John Deere's famous quote? ›
It is a source of consolation to me to know that I never willfully wronged any man and that I never put on the market a poorly-made implement. Strike while the iron is hot. [In 1837 on making his first steel plow] She's finished.What is Deere known for? ›
Deere & Company, doing business as John Deere (/ˈdʒɒnˈdɪər/), is an American corporation that manufactures agricultural machinery, heavy equipment, forestry machinery, diesel engines, drivetrains (axles, transmissions, gearboxes) used in heavy equipment, and lawn care equipment.What did John Deere do as a kid? ›
Deere was born in Rutland, Vermont, on February 7, 1804. As a teenager he worked in a blacksmith's shop. At age 21 he set up his own shop. Many of his customers were farmers.