Gas Engine Magazine

BOOK Review

By Staff

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

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

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.

  • Published on Nov 1, 1984
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