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HomeAsbestos ExposureAsbestos CompaniesJohn Deere Industrial Equipment

With its world headquarters based in Moline, Illinois, Deere & Company (collectively known as John Deere) has a rich history with roots dating back over 170 years.

The company was founded in 1837 in Grand Detour, Illinois by John Deere with his creation of the first commercially successful steel plow. Five years later, in 1842, Deere had manufactured 100 plows. Due to an increasing demand, Deere acquired a partner by the name of Leonard Andrus in 1843.

John Deere Industrial Equipment Company History

In 1848, the ever expanding plow business moved from Grand Detour to Moline, Illinois—a location offering water power and transportation advantages. By 1850, Deere had dissolved his partnership with Andrus and acquired two new partners resulting in the company name of Deere, Tate & Gould. At this time the company was building approximately 2,136 plows with a workforce of about 16. Deere bought out his partners in 1852 and ran the company under various names for the next 16 years until it was incorporated under the name Deere & Company in 1868 under the leadership of Deere’s son Charles. The end of the 19th century witnessed five basic product lines dominating the company’s output: plows, cultivators, harrows, drills and planters, and wagons and buggies.

The onset of the 20th century marked the emergence of the modern Deere & Company with its 11 manufacturing entities and 25 sales organizations. By the mid-1950s, the company was well on its way to becoming a multinational manufacturer by making a presence in Mexico, Germany, Spain, France, Argentina, and South America. In 1963, John Deere not only became the world’s leading manufacturer and vendor of farm and industrial tractors and equipment, but also launched its venture into the consumer market with the production and distribution of lawn and garden tractors. By 1966, the company’s sales exceeded $1 billion for the first time with record-high earnings of $78.7 million and a notable 76 percent rise in sales in the consumer market of lawn and garden equipment. The company’s success continued with total sales topping $2 billion and $5 billion in 1973 and 1979, respectively. John Deere’s celebration of its 150th anniversary in 1987 was marked by a net loss of $99 million only to see a miraculous rebound the following year with a record profit exceeding $315 million. The close of the 20th century marked yet another first in the company’s history—net earnings reaching $1 billion.

As John Deere moved into the 21st century, it continued to grow its business and profits by entering into an agreement with The Home Depot—for the first time in company history, riding mowers were being sold in the mass consumer market.

Today, with over 50,000 employees, John Deere is organized into three major business segments:

  • Agriculture and Turf: John Deere is the world’s leading manufacturer of farm equipment and the producer and marketer of North America’s broadest line of lawn and garden tractors, mowers, golf course equipment, and outdoor power equipment.
  • Construction and Forestry: John Deere is the world’s leading manufacturer of forestry equipment and a major manufacturer of construction equipment in North America
  • Credit: With more than 2.4 million accounts and a portfolio of nearly $23 billion, John Deere is one of the largest equipment finance companies in the United States.

Originating as a one-man blacksmith shop and evolving into a major worldwide corporation, John Deere is a company that credits its growth and success to four core values once exhibited by its founder: integrity, quality, commitment, and innovation.

Products Manufactured by John Deere Industrial Equipment Company that Contained Asbestos

Exposure to asbestos is the primary risk factor for the development of mesothelioma, asbestosis, and other respiratory disorders. Prior to its ban in the late 1970s, the main insulation material used by manufacturers of products such as brake linings and gaskets was asbestos.

Among the products produced by John Deere Industrial Equipment Company that may have contained asbestos are:

  • John Deere A, B, and G Series tractors*

* A documented court case identified the brake linings, clutches and gaskets on John Deere tractors in the 1940s as having asbestos. All asbestos-containing materials were purchased from 3rd party vendors.

Occupations at Risk for Asbestos Exposure

Essentially any individual who has been exposed to asbestos dust could be at risk for developing an asbestos-related illness such as mesothelioma. With regard to products produced by John Deere, occupational exposure may include anyone who came in contact with the asbestos-containing components of the tractors, namely brakes, clutches, and gaskets. Such occupations at risk for this type of exposure may include mechanics, plant workers, and any individuals who may have worked in proximity to those employed in these professions.

Exposure to asbestos-containing components of John Deere tractors could have also been experienced by homeowners and farmers who performed repairs themselves on brake, clutch, and gasket components of this industrial equipment. Families of the aforementioned individuals may also be at risk of asbestos exposure as asbestos fibers were easily carried on clothing and released into the enclosed environment (e.g., a garage, barn) where work on these parts was taking place.

Due to the long latency period associated with mesothelioma, a diagnosis typically occurs in men and women 50-70 years of age. If you or someone you know may have experienced exposure to asbestos, learn more about the symptoms to look for and the diagnostic tests that may be used to confirm the presence of this disease.

Recent News

John Deere produces a “Restricted Materials List” for its suppliers. Current as of February 2009, this document cites specific restricted substances in any “finished products, parts, components, or materials supplied to John Deere.” This document clearly states that all types of asbestos must not be present in items such as brake pads, gaskets, clutch plates, and friction parts. In addition, parts manuals produced by the company in the late 1980s and early 1990s contained specific warnings for individuals to avoid breathing dust generated by components containing asbestos fibers as these fibers, when inhaled, may cause lung cancer. Components in products that may contain asbestos fibers were specifically identified in the manual as follows: brake pads, brake band and lining assemblies, clutch plates, and some gaskets.

Written By

Tara Strand Senior Content Writer

Tara Strand specializes in researching and writing about asbestos, raising awareness and advocating for a ban.

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Reviewed By

Jennifer Lucarelli Legal Advisor and Contributor

Jennifer Lucarelli is a partner at the law firm of Early, Lucarelli, Sweeney & Meisenkothen, specializing in asbestos litigation.

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