Sam Allen never imagined when, as a graduating senior in Industrial Engineering at Purdue University, he’d be hosting lunch for the senior vice president of John Deere during “Executive in the Class” day at college.
He also never imagined by the end of that lunch, he’d be invited to interview with John Deere for a job. Or that he’d walk into that John Deere store in Moline, Ill., and feel right at home.
Or that one day he’d end up as the head of one of the largest agriculture and construction equipment companies in the world – John Deere.
“I found out it was true that if you come to work for John Deere and you work for two years, you’ll end up staying for the rest of your career,” Allen said, adding John Deere is a company that not only cares a great deal about its customers, it cares about its employees and folks in the ag community around the world as well. He began at John Deere in 1975.
Earlier in May, Allen toured one of John Deere’s customers in Watford City, N.D., Badlands Power Fuels, a drilling fluids and crude oil transportation company, and one of its top John Deere dealerships, RDO Equipment Co. in Bismarck.
Derrick Shaffer, general manager of RDO Equipment in Bismarck, said it was very exciting to host the head of the company. “It’s not everyday the CEO of John Deere comes to visit.”
Shaffer said RDO in Bismarck continues to grow every year and employ the best people possible.
“With agriculture as good as it is and construction growing in western North Dakota, we’re busy and growing and we appreciate the good success we’ve had,” he said.
Shaffer thanked Allen for taking the time to visit the store. After all, it is the 175th anniversary of John Deere – and no one knows that better than Sam Allen himself.
Allen said John Deere was one of the oldest companies in the country and he recognized the legacy of the company everyday as he toured dealerships and talked to customers around the world.
“First of all, there really was a John Deere and he started this company when he was 34 years old,” Allen said. “It’s great to have such a heritage and it gives me a sense of responsibility to continue that success he started.”
Back in the 1880s, John Deere said, “I will never put my name on a product that does not have in it the best that is in me.” It is something that John Deere dealerships around the world still adhere to today, Allen said.
The Deere company will use the 175th anniversary as a springboard to renew its commitment to its customers, and all the people they work with.
Allen said the Bismarck RDO Equipment store was one of John Deere’s best and he was proud of what they have accomplished.
“RDO Equipment has had tremendous growth. Its one of our top dealerships,” Allen said.
And for John Deere as a whole? The company had an all time record, bringing in $1.053 billion this quarter, Allen said.
As to where Allen sees the future of John Deere heading, precision farming will be more and more a part of agriculture, even on small farms, he said.
“We’re increasing productivity on farms and more and more intelligent equipment that will make the best use of nutrients will continue to be important,” he said.
Allen pointed out that John Deere has made commitments to work with the farmers and communities in India, Russia and China, to help them grow and learn agronomic principles. On a past trip to India, he had worked alongside farmers in the fields bringing new tools for them to grow crops.
“We think John Deere has an opportunity in terms of selling equipment to help double the food output,” Allen said.
Over the last year, Allen said they have launched several significant projects that will add to their manufacturing capacity on a global basis.
“Global markets are making a big impact on John Deere’s performance today, and will become even more important in the future,” he said.
In addition, John Deere gives about $20 million a year to charities, about half of it goes to world hunger, he said.
For North Dakota, Montana, South Dakota and Minnesota farmers, RDO Equipment continues to believe in the importance of Farm Rescue, said Shaffer. They donate equipment and personnel to help plant and harvest crops for farmers who are injured or have been hit by natural disaster.
Allen said he and his entourage had made stops in Seattle, Wash., Colorado Springs, Colo., Atlanta, Ga., and were on their way to Mississippi.
Others who accompanied Allen to the Bismarck RDO store were Christi Offutt, CEO of RDO Equipment Co., who noted employees who had served at least 20 years with RDO, and Ron Offutt, founder and chairman of RDO.