VIEW FROM THE TOP
DEERE STRESSES COMMITMENT TO EXCELLENCE, INNOVATION
Editor's Note: If ever there were a time to pull back the reigns a bit, now would seem to be that time. Don't tell that to the folks at Deere & Company, Moline, Ill.
Doug DeVries, senior vice president, agricultural marketing for Deere's North American, Australian and Asian Division, proudly points out that the company's new product introduction in August 2001 was the single largest in the company's storied history. And plans are in place for another intro later this summer.
Customers expect an industry leader to display a visible long-term commitment to that industry," DeVries explains. "You can't let tough economic times diminish your commitment to bringing customers new products and new innovations that help them do their jobs more efficiently, productively and profitably."
AM: What's new from Deere in the farm and ag retailer market?
DD: We remain committed as ever to bringing to the market new products and new innovations to the
market that deliver genuine value to our customers. While last August's new product introduction was our largest ever, it was only one in a series over the past three years. And by the end of 2003, we will have literally delivered a completely new, comprehensive product line to our dealers and customers.
Our customers expect us to innovate, to understand their business, and to deliver products that meet the constantly changing needs of their business. Our commitment to meeting this expectation has kept us in business for 165 years, and this is a commitment that doesn't waver, even in challenging economic times.
AM: Deere recently had a workforce reduction. Does this have any affect on marketing products to your customers?
DD: The processes involved in restructuring haven't had any affect on our ability to provide innovative, high-quality products and services to our dealers and customers. That fact is born out in the 56 new products we've introduced for 2002.
That said, it's incumbent upon us to review, analyze and improve our business structure and processes. If we didn't, it would be impossible for us to continue to meet our customers' changing needs and to succeed in a rapidly evolving marketplace.
AM: Is the Internet shaping Deere and its marketing efforts? Tell us about the VantagePoint Network and taking over ownership from Farmland and Growmark.
DD: The Internet is a tremendous conduit for providing real-time information to both dealers and customers, and for interaction between the company and our customers and dealers. We know that customers view the Internet as a great tool for accessing information, and we're committed
to providing as much as we can.
With our ownership of VantagePoint, we'll be able to integrate its core components into a complete package of solutions for customers that extend beyond equipment. And even though VantagePoint no longer exists as a public site, it gives us the model and capabilities to help our customers as they move further into a new age of value retention, identity preservation and traceability of the goods they produce.
AM: Where does Deere see its greatest opportunity for growth in the near-term?
DD: Both near-term and long-term, we believe there will continue to be tremendous opportunity in the large commercial farming segment. That said, we also recognize the lifestyle market is growing and provides a real opportunity for Deere. We intend to be more aggressive in this area and to expand our presence. We're also committed to ag retailers and believe we're uniquely positioned in the market to meet their specific needs.
AM: Will computer technology drive new innovations at Deere in the future?
DD: Outside of the industry, there is probably a misconception of farm equipment as something that is low-tech. In reality, our new 8020 and 9020 Series Tractors contain more computing power than high-end luxury cars.
While computer technology is vital to some of our more exciting innovations, like AutoTrac assisted steering and Independent Link Suspension, it also changes the nature of the buying and selling process. Our company and our dealers have to more effectively sell the value proposition to our customers. We have to clearly demonstrate the benefits and the value these new technologies and innovations can deliver to their business. And we always need to keep in mind that any new technology or innovation we introduce must continue to deliver on the value proposition customers expect from Deere. AM