It was 50 years ago when John Deere created its Industrial Equipment Division to provide a springboard for the company to enter the construction and forestry market. Today, the John Deere Construction & Forestry Division — so named in 2000 — distributes its construction, forestry and work site products through a network of more than 1,300 dealers worldwide.
In 1956, company leaders saw an opportunity for the company’s products to be adapted to the construction and forestry market, according to Bob Brock, senior vice president of sales and marketing, John Deere Construction & Forestry. Thus, the Construction & Forestry Division was born.
“Fifty years later, the Construction and Forestry Division serves customers all over the world, with sales of nearly $6 billion,” Brock said. “Our construction equipment performs the full range of earthmoving and material handling work, and John Deere forestry equipment is used in full-tree and cut-to-length harvesting operations and in mill yards.”
In the early years, the division produced wheel tractors, crawler dozers and elevating scrapers. In the ’60s the division added backhoe loaders, forklifts, excavators, wheel loaders, skidders and motorgraders.
“The key to success of the variety of products we have offered over the years is that John Deere has always stood for quality and customer service unmatched in the industry,” Brock said. “We remain industry leaders because we are continuously utilizing the latest technology to improve the efficiency and comfort of the products we sell. Our first priority is to deliver exactly what our customers want, and we work to adapt our products to suit their needs.”
Deere still operates by the four core values its founder first exhibited: integrity, quality, commitment and innovation. In fact, the pioneer blacksmith is well known for saying, “I will never put my name on a product that does not have in it the best that is in me.”
The company pioneered a number of breakthrough machines, including the industry’s first articulated, fully hydraulic motorgrader in 1967 — this machine was the first to rotate the blade into a vertical bank cutting position by the operator without leaving the operator’s station; the industry’s first hydrostatic drive crawler dozer and loader in 1976; and the industry’s first elevating scraper with a microprocessor-controlled transmission in 1982.
In 1979, John Deere introduced motorgraders with microprocessor-controlled hydrostatic front wheel drive, which allowed the machine to pull loads and bank cuts on steep slopes. This technology converted the motor grader from a finish and maintenance machine into a complete road construction machine.
More recent innovations include the single-lever, all-electronic speed and steering controls on Deere hydrostatic crawlers, introduced in 1995, and the Quad-Cool cooling system for waste handlers in 2003, which features coolers that are arranged side by side rather than stacked to allow easy cleaning access to both sides of each cooler.
“These technologies are only a few of those introduced by Deere that have since become industry standards,” Brock said.
John Deere construction and forestry equipment is manufactured at a variety of factories around the world. The Deere Dubuque Works factory, which opened in 1947, stretches more than 1 mi. on 1,465 acres and manufactures crawler dozers, compact track loaders, skid steer loaders, backhoe loaders, knuckleboom loaders, tracked feller bunchers, winches and components for various heavy equipment products.
John Deere’s Davenport Works facility began production in 1974 and today manufactures articulated dump trucks, four-wheel drive loaders, motor graders, log skidders, wheeled feller bunchers, forestry saw heads and cabs. The Davenport Works factory was the first U.S. construction equipment factory to be registered ISO 9000, and later both Dubuque and Davenport were registered ISO 9001, which is the highest standard achievable for recognizing a company’s quality systems.
Some John Deere hydraulic excavators are produced by Deere-Hitachi Construction Machinery in Kernersville, N.C., and in Japan. Formed in 1988, Deere-Hitachi is a joint-venture company that manufactures excavators for Deere and Hitachi.
In 1988, the joint venture formed Deere-Hitachi Specialty Products. Based in Langley, British Columbia, it began shipping tracked forestry machines — delimbers, harvesters, log loaders and road builders — in 1999. Additionally, John Deere Forestry Inc., in Joensuu, Finland, manufactures log forwarders, wheeled harvesters and forwarding heads.