A new history titled 'John Deere's Company', just published, contains enough information on the firm and its tractors and its people to keep readers burning the midnight oil from now until the Fourth of July.
It's a blockbuster, with 870 pages and lots of color photos, weighing nearly four pounds and loaded with facts behind the slogan, 'Nothing Runs Like a Deere'.
Rather than get into all the stories about personalities, industrial relations, and foreign expansion, let's center on the matters of prime interest to collectors. Why should they buy it?
The answer: It is the best source we have seen on the history of John Deere products, from the first 1837 scouring plow through all the others including those being made today. If you own, collect, enjoy or covet a John Deere, this is for you.
If you are a Waterloo Boy admirer or owner, this is for you also, for the Deere firm bought out the Waterloo Gasoline Engine Co. in 1918. If you are interested in Dain or the Velie, you'll find information.
The John Deere Co., as many of our readers know, has made a host of machines and pieces of equipment far beyond plows or tractorssuch as wagons, buggies, gang plows, corn planters, cultivators, disc harrows, manure spreaders, hay rakes, binders and on and oneither under the Deere name or through affiliated companies.
The pictures in the book are highly impressivegoing all the way back to Vermont, where John Deere started. Pictures of plows, factories, people and even cartoons from magazines help carry the reader through the fascinating narrative. One set of pictures in color is itself titled a 'pictorial history'. Another color set includes covers of 'The Furrow,' a Deere publication founded in the 1890's and recently published in 37 editions and 13 languages.
Robert A. Hanson, head of the company today, carries on the tradition that John Deere set when he fashioned his famous plow in Grand Detour, Ill. Hanson, shares credit for the concept and cooperation shown the author, with William Hewitt, chairman and chief executive officer, and Ellwood Curtis, vice chairman, at the time the project was begun.
Corporation histories are a motley lot, very often self-serving to tell how grand and free of flaw the company and its executives have been. Not so this. Deere's story is told 'warts and all', in the way in which Abraham Lincoln told the photographer to do his portrait.
Author of this is Wayne G. Broehl, Jr., historian who teaches at Dourtmouth College's Amos Tuck School of Business Administration. Company officials made every effort to assure that Broehl could operate with fullest objectivity.
For the general readers, the book presents a feast of opportunity to learn. It tells more than the story of the men who made Deere what it is; it also records the economic times good and bad, effects of competition, and of world and national affairs, and of key decisions which shaped the firm'-s progress. In many ways it is a guidebook for those who wish to invent, to innovate, and to lead.