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Florida family helps company celebrate a tractor milestone

John Deere officially kicks off celebration of 100th anniversary marketing tractors by delivering a machine

Note: You can watch a special view of the Facebook Live event John Deere conducted when the Purvis Family accepted the new tractor at the end of this story.

Wade Purvis couldn't quite believe the call he got recently, when Tiffany Turner, John Deere tractor marketing, called and explained his new tractor was going to be special.

"We had ordered the tractor back near the end of July, early August," Purvis told Farm Progress. "I had no idea it would be this machine."

That machine, his new 8245R John Deere, would be Serial No. 001 in the 100th year of the company making tractors. That milestone netted Purvis, his wife, Karen, and their son, Kyle, a trip from the Naples, Fla., area to Waterloo, Iowa in late October. And yes it was snowing, but they barely noticed.

This was a Gold Key event when customers can see the final assembly of their newly purchased machine, and even help work on it (at least for Kyle).

The machine gets a commemorative badge, and special decals in the rear window, noting the milestone. That badging will appear on several John Deere models including the 6 Series, 7 Series, 8 Series and 9 Series machines.

Savvy readers will note that John Deere has been selling farm equipment for more than 100 years. However, for tractors, the company is just reaching the century mark. It was in 1918 that Deere started selling tractors through its acquisition of the Waterloo Gasoline Engine Company, makers of the Waterloo Boy tractor. Before that, the company had only sold machines that got their power from horses, but the John Deere board saw the value of getting into what was then the new-fangled tractor business; and it never looked back.

For the Purvis Family, which runs a diverse operation with most of its farmland in the Immokalee, Fla., area, the suite of crops raised includes edible beans, peppers, eggplant, squash and cucumbers.

This is a special tractor, with a unique serial number. Purvis said he had considered tarping the tractor to save for his grandchildren to use someday, but he said it with a grin, noting it would actually be put to work when its delivered to the farm."This tractor will be used mostly for land leveling and preparation for seeding the crops," Purvis said.

Kyle, who just recently returned to the farm after finishing college, is taking on duties in the farm's packing house, where the family packs its own produce, and for other local farmers too.

Karen is a teacher, but on hand when needed during some busy times of the season.

The family has mainly John Deere tractors, and Purvis admits he's going all green as soon as it makes sense for the farm - that's from a capital spending perspective.

The celebration

John Deere kicked off its official 100-year celebration announcement during the Farm Progress Show with a special Facebook Live event. But that was just the start. 2018 will be a year of celebration and promotion of the anniversary.

For example, at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, the museum's American Enterprise exhibition will mark 2018 as the year of the tractor. The museum's 2018 green, yellow and red Waterloo Boy tractor will be installed at the entrance of the business history exhibition in January.

And in the exhibit there a new display on "Precision Farming" will examine a more contemporary story of disruptive technology in today's agriculture industry with the use of technology including a GPS antenna donated by Deere.

In a media statement marking the start of the year-long celebration, Neil Dahlstrom, manager, corporate history and archives at John Deere, noted that the company was excited the Smithsonian had chosen to present one of the company's "most iconic tractors in the context of technological change in America. The display provides an opportunity to educate the public about the importance of agricultural innovation."

The company will also place iconic tractors on display at the John Deere Tractor and Engine Museum in Waterloo, Iowa, the John Deere Pavilion and John Deere World Headquarters in Moline, Ill., as well as the John Deere Forum in Mannheim, Germany.

In June 2018, 100 John Deere tractors and engines will be displayed at the John Deere Tractor and Engine Museum and the Waterloo Convention Center. This is a major celebration with final dates still to be determined, but both venues will include exhibits, food and family friendly activities.

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