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John Deere CEO discusses roadmap for the future at CONEXPO


March 12, 2020
By Andrew Snook

John Deere’s CEO John May offered press from around the world a glimpse into the company’s plans for future growth during CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2020.

May started his speech by offering a brief history from his 23 years with the company, then expressed his love for his own Deere machines he uses on his 100-acre farm in Illinois: a Deere excavator and a Deere compact track loader.

“I love them for the same reason for the same reason thousands of our other customers love their machines and their equipment: they make me more productive and more efficient, and they give me more uptime,” he told the crowd. “As part of my new role as CEO, it’s to help make sure that never, ever changes.”

May then highlighted John Deere’s three priorities to ensure it continues to make industry-leading construction equipment: 1) Precision technology, 2) Exceptional service, and 3) Smart investment.

Precision technology

May said that technology is the key to helping customers solve their most pressing challenges: skilled labour shortages, safety, productivity and uptime.

“Our WorkSite technology–such as grade control, payload weighing and automated systems–is an example of how we’re helping customers meet those changes,” he said. “By intensifying our investment in precision technologies, we believe we will make more productive equipment, and thus, have more profitable customers.”

Exceptional service

May said that Deere is planning on providing exceptional experience to customers by growing and expanding its aftermarket capabilities.

“Customers want real-time, connected, customer support,” he said. “They want to be able to track the health of their machines and predict machine downtime. We are responding by making our customer support the best in the business. For example, we’re using data analytics to identify preventative maintenance, improve customer uptime, and increase the post-warranty value of their equipment.”

Smart investments

Making smart investments in people and John Deere businesses is the third priority.

“Deere is a technology solutions company, and we will continue to invest in research and development. In fiscal 2019, we did that at a rate of nearly $5 million a day,” May said. “We’re also going to invest in partnerships that can help us bring solutions to make quicker–or give us access to–new and innovative technologies.”

These three priorities will create the necessary conditions to allow John Deere’s construction business to continue to thrive, May said.

“Despite the cyclical nature of the construction industry, we think the long-term trajectory is going to be very, very positive,” he said. “Around the globe we see three macrotrends: first, we see a growing population; second, we see an expanding middle class; third, we see increasing urbanization. Each of these means more demand for construction equipment. Especially the kind of construction equipment we build.”

John Deere recently announced that John May will take over the position of Chairman of the Board this coming May.