By: Rob Wertheimer
Deere’s move from being an implement maker to a tractor maker with its acquisition of Waterloo Gasoline Engine Company in 1918 was a transformational strategic move, that was not risk free or obvious at the time. Somehow the inflated value of the $2.25 million dollar investment, perhaps $30-40 million today, fails to capture the immensity of what happened in the world that followed. The short version is 20 million horses went to a different, sometimes better place, and 50 million horsepower in engines replaced them. Deere began a seven-decade-long climb to global leadership, and is now selling $5-10bn in highly profitable tractors annually.