When we think of the John Deere Company, we think of agricultural machinery such as plows, tractors and lawn mowers. But did you know it once made bikes? Probably not! Let's take a look at some interesting facts about John Deere and what helped the company become the largest manufacturer of agricultural, construction and forestry machinery in the U.S.
1. John Deere was one of us
John Deere wasn't born into a rich family. He wasn't a white collar worker. At the age of 33, he was a hard-working blacksmith working on a farm. He blended into the crowd.
2. Deere had a light bulb moment
Deere was just like everyone he worked with until, of course, he had a light bulb moment in the early 1800s. Hoping to make work easier for his fellow crew members, he created a moldboard out of broken steel sawmill blades. These old, steel blades often got caked up with prairie soil, but the moldboard allowed dirt to easily slide off of it.
3. The curve of the blade mattered
In his book "John Deere's Company," Wayne Broehl described the curve of the blade, saying, "Deere must have given a great deal of thought to the shape, to the special curve of his moldboard, for its exact contours would determine just how well the soil would be turned over after the share had made the cut." The blade was shaped much differently than others being used.
4. Charles Deere ran the company longer than his father
When most of us think of John Deere, we think of a man who probably ran his company for decades. However, that's not true. John Deere actually only ran the company from 1852 to 1858. His son, Charles, took over the company in 1958 and managed it for the next 49 years!
5. The John Deere Company began to build bikes in 1894
John Deere is well known for its agricultural machines, but did you know it once made bikes?. That's right! In 1894, bikes became very popular in the U.S., so John Deere created the Deere Leader, the Deere Roadster and the Moline Special. However, they stopped when the fad faded.
6. John Deere did his research
It took years for Deere to popularize his equipment, which makes sense considering the agriculture industry changes slowly. Deere constantly tested his products and took in suggestions from customers, and by 1849, he was producing 2,000 plows a year.
7. John Deere opened its first international branch in 1912
It took 40 years from John Deere and Company's establishment for it to move across the border to Canada. It wouldn't be until 1956 that other parts of the world would also have the opportunity to use Deere's machinery. That same year, the company expanded its operations to Mexico, Germany and Spain.
8. John Deere looks much different than it used to
Many companies never change logos, but Deere has changed its logo eight times. The first trademark of the leaping deer was registered in 1876, although the company used it prior to that for a few years. From there it kept the deer, but changed how it looked. On its website, it notes that the original deer looked like an animal native "to Africa" compared to "the native North American white-tailed deer," which "is portrayed in future trademarks." In 2000, Deere showcased its latest and last trademarked logo, which is the popular green and yellow logo.
9. The company hit $1 billion in 1998
It took a while for the John Deere company to hit the $1 billion mark, but, as we said previously, the agriculture industry changes slowly. In fact, reaching $1 billion wasn't just a first for the John Deere Company, but for the entire agriculture equipment industry.
10. It's always looked for new markets
While we know the John Deere Company for its tractors and plows, it's also expanded into various markets throughout the decades (and centuries). In the first part of our series we noted that Deere built bikes in 1894 because of a new bicycle fad that swept across America. While this tends to be an outlier, Deere has always ventured into new markets. In 1890, for example, the company not only built plows, but also cultivators, harrows, drills, planters, wagons and buggies.
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