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John Deere goes shopping

The big green brand is purchasing specialty manufacturers while “balancing” its workforce

In late March, John Deere announced it had taken ownership of yet another speciality equipment manufacturer. It’s becoming a familiar story for the U.S.-based manufacturer.

This latest acquisition of Hagie Manufacturing, a U.S. specialty manufacturer of high-clearance sprayers, is one of a couple of purchases that Deere has recently announced.

Deere describes the Hagie purchase as a “joint venture,” but it has acquired majority ownership of Hagie.

Hagie Manufacturing has built a quality reputation in high-clearance sprayers.

Hagie Manufacturing has built a quality reputation in high-clearance sprayers.
photo: Hagie

A press announcement says Hagie will continue producing sprayers in its current Clarion, Iowa location, however, and for the time being, equipment made through the joint venture will continue to carry the Hagie brand name. Even so, sales and service for Hagie equipment will slowly be integrated into Deere’s global distribution channel over the next 15 months.

“Hagie Manufacturing is known for innovation and its strong customer understanding in high-clearance spraying equipment,” said John May, president, agricultural solutions and chief information officer at Deere in that press release. “High-clearance spraying equipment is a new market for Deere. The expertise at Hagie allows John Deere to immediately serve customers who need precision solutions that extend their window for applying nutrients.”

Alan Hagie, CEO at Hagie Manufacturing, also commented in the release, saying, “We have great products at Hagie that help producers be more profitable, but we need a business model that helps us reach more customers. This partnership with Deere allows our solutions to reach customers on a global scale and ensure they are supported with the world-class Deere dealer organization.”

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Although Deere already produces its own in-house line of high-clearance machines, May said the joint venture investment allows John Deere to provide a broader range of sprayer options and to integrate Deere’s precision technology into the Hagie equipment.

The Hagie acquisition is the second shortline company the green brand has absorbed since the start of 2016. In early February, Deere announced it had finalized the purchase of planter manufacturer Monosem, which is headquartered in Europe but has had a strong market presence in North America for several years.

At the beginning of November, Deere announced it intended to make the Monosem purchase. And one day later it revealed it had made yet another purchase to improve its precision planting portfolio.

Deere also recently acquired precision planter manufacturer Monosem.

Deere also recently acquired precision planter manufacturer Monosem.
photo: Monosem

A press release announced Deere and Monsanto “…have signed definitive agreements for Deere to acquire the Precision Planting LLC equipment business and to enable exclusive near real-time data connectivity between certain John Deere farm equipment and the Climate FieldView platform. The agreements represent the industry’s first and only near real-time in-cab wireless connection to John Deere equipment by a third party.”

Deere’s May commented that this purchase will “…allow John Deere to extend the range of retrofit options available from Precision Planting to many more products and into new geographies.”

The company has also signed other joint ventures in recent months that haven’t involved the outright acquisition of another firm. For example, last August it announced its dealers would now retail Soucy Track products, and that track modules from that Quebec-based firm could now be fitted onto Deere’s 1770NT and 1775NT planters as a dealer-installed option.

The company has also released its own new or updated green products as well, such as the new 500D Series Draper platform headers for swathers and new commercial and construction equipment, including two new Gator models.

All of this activity comes amid workforce adjustments the brand has made to calibrate plant outputs to the lower sales volumes that are a new reality in the ag machinery industry. In November, 220 workers received layoff notices at the Moline Seeding and Cylinder plant. In February 100 workers at the Davenport and Dubuque facilities were given their pink slips.

Deere said the layoffs “reflect the company’s ongoing efforts to balance the size of its manufacturing workforce with market demand for products.”

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