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Serving: KS

AGCO Product Launch Is Good Show With Touching Announcement

Amid the ceremony and showmanship of new product announcements, AGCO chairman makes touching, personal announcement

I'm in Kansas City, Mo. for the biggest new product launch ever for Agco Corp., which has a special place in my heart because of what the Hesston manufacturing plant means to the economy of South Central Kansas.

This launch is quite the show; the culmination of five years of research and development for Agco, with 15 new products, some of them ground-up redesigns, being announced.

But the big moment of the night for me didn't come with the parade of impressive new tractor, combine, planter and tillage technology.

It came when Agco Chairman and CEO Martin Richenhagen, came to the podium and announced that he won't be around for meetings Tuesday. He has to fly back to Duluth, Ga. for an interview, in his words, to become an American. He said once he is handed that American passport, he expects his accent to simply vanish and his whole world to change.

It was a heartfelt and touching little speech.

On the harder front, he also said that Agco last year had $9 billion in sales, has almost zero debt and plans to invest annually and heavily ($300 million) on each of two fronts: research and development of new products and capital improvements of manufacturing facilities.

The company is in the process of building a new plant at Jackson, Minn. to assemble high-horsepower tractors and is investing $40 million this year in a paint plant upgrade at Hesston.

Good news in tough times for the American economy.

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