The History of John Deere

The History of John Deere

How Charles Deere Transformed His Father’s Legacy into a Household Name

We know you’ve heard of John Deere, the name behind the famous brand many have come to know and love. However, there was another Deere who was responsible for the company’s successful growth before and during the turn of the 20th century. That man, referred to as John Deere’s son, was better known as Charles Deere.

John Deere’s second son, Charles Deere, was born in 1837, the same year that John Deere created his trademark self-cleaning plow from an old steel saw blade. Despite this coincidence, the Deere family did not initially plan for Charles to take a management role. It was John Deere’s eldest son, Francis Albert, who planned to take over the family business.

However, that changed when Francis passed away during a flu outbreak at age 18. Charles Deere assumed his older brother’s role and attended business school. In 1854, he began working at his father’s company. He advanced quickly in managing the company’s finances and moved on to become head of sales.

After years of success under Charles’ direction, the Deere business hit a rough patch during the “Panic of 1857.” Struggling with overspending in production and manufacturing costs, John Deere turned leadership of the company over to Charles, who guided finances in the right direction, which included reorganizing the business into a partnership called John Deere & Company. John Deere and Charles Deere shared this equally with colleagues Luke Hemenway and David Bugbee. This partnership allowed the Deeres to manage more money within the family, avoiding personal bankruptcy in the event that something should happen to the business.

To ensure future success of John Deere & Company, Charles maintained his leadership role. Under Charles’ management the company continued to prosper, giving birth to new branch houses across the country. Through his father’s death in 1886 until his own passing in 1907, Charles Deere helped expand a product line that included over 300 models of plows and a variety of farm equipment. Today, Deere & Company continues to serve customers and deliver quality products to agricultural and landscaping professions.

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