Iowa’s top manufacturing employer has factories around the globe, including where coronavirus outbreaks have forced massive quarantines and factory shutdowns.

A spokesman for Quad Cities-based John Deere says procedures are in place to respond to the outbreak in China, where Deere makes farm and construction equipment. Ken Golden says Deere closed its plants temporarily when the government asked it to do so.

Golden says, “For our employees in China, we have a lot of people who are working remotely and we’re following all of the guidance of each province on how to bring employees back to work and bring production back up.” One challenge Deere and Company plans to address is how to attract and retain young, tech-savvy employees.

Golden says the company is zeroing in on three main areas to remain profitable.  “Precision ag is really a focus for the company but then also the idea of all these pieces of equipment out there that need the technology that aren’t on it today,” Golden says. “The after-market becomes important to us as well, putting some of that technology onto equipment that doesn’t have it. We have found the customers want to do that.”

Golden says the third focus is to improve efficiency by evaluating assets and improving performance in markets that haven’t been as successful as others. He says the goal is to become a “smart industrial company and employer.”

(By Michelle O’Neill, WVIK, Rock Island)