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Byline: MICHAEL MINK
For John Deere, complacency was the enemy.
The founder of Deere & Co. was a blacksmith by trade. After arriving in Grand Detour, Ill., from his native Vermont in 1836, Deere set up shop in hopes of capitalizing on the growing local population -- and their horses.
Listening to his customers, Deere (1804-1886) heard about a serious problem that Eastern farmers discovered in the Midwest: because the soil was denser and richer than what they were used to back East, it stuck to their cast-iron plows. The constant stopping and starting while the farmer cleaned off his plow made the work much, much slower and endangered their livelihoods.
An intense and thorough man, Deere's curiosity was piqued and he began researching the problem. He talked at length with farmers to gain a better understanding of what they were dealing with and perused catalogs to see if there was a solution. Soon, he decided that a highly polished steel plow with a reshaped moldboard would allow the soil to slide off of it, or …