Deere & Co. shareholders left the company's annual meeting last week with confidence for the future after paying tribute to two men who shaped the company's past

Before CEO Sam Allen began to discuss the business at hand — the state of John Deere, he led a moment of silence to honor former CEOs Robert Hanson and Hans Becherer, who both passed away in 2016.

Hanson, who died May 19 at age 91, became the first non-Deere family member to head the company in 1982. Only the sixth CEO in the company's history, he devoted 40 years to Deere before retiring in 1990.

Allen reminded the audience how Hanson's courage and grace led Deere through the 1980s farm crisis. His leadership expanded Deere's international footprint as well as advanced the company's products and technologies.       

Becherer, who died Oct. 6 at age 81, joined the company in 1962 and succeeded Hanson as CEO in 1989. He retired in 2000. 

Allen said Becherer is credited with leading Deere through a period of significant growth and financial success. His leadership also expanded Deere's international operations and widened its equipment portfolio. 

It was a poignant tribute to the leaders on whose shoulders tens of thousands of Deere employees stand today.

KFC to remodel four area stores

The iconic image of Col. Sanders will be back and prominently displayed as four Kentucky Fried Chicken locations in the Quad-Cities get a makeover.

A  brand revamp by franchise KBP Foods will include three Davenport stores — Elmore Avenue, West Locust Street and West Kimberly Road — and the 18th Avenue store in Rock Island. KBP expects to invest more than $40 million into renovating about 200 KFCs.

According to Mike Kulp, KBP Foods' president and CEO, the franchise recently acquired the restaurants "and the reinvestment is long overdue.''

The new design returns the Colonel's image to the front and center of the building — inside and outside. Customers will find "the colonel's table" family-style seating and a photo wall that showcases his legacy as one of the South's original celebrity chefs. 

The stores' drive-thrus will stay open during the remodeling, which is expected to be completed in early April.

KBP, with 364 KFC and Taco Bell restaurants in 15 states, has been named one of the 10 Fastest-Growing Restaurant Chains and one of the Top 100 Fastest-Growing Businesses in North America.

Premier donates sporting goods 

With an unusually large amount of sporting goods on hand, Premier Jewelry & Loan, Bettendorf, is looking to donate some of the merchandise to area youth teams.

Manager Shane Tague said the store purchased a large quantity of stock, the majority of which it could easily sell but instead chose to donate. The first donation of baseball shoes went to the Northwest Little League, and Premier is looking for other beneficiaries.

“It’s not every day that you get a call offering you $1,000 of baseball spikes for your Little League team,'' said Corey Graham, the league's vice president.

Tague added "We could sell these spikes, too, but sometimes it’s better to find a good place to donate so we can focus on the items that are more complementary to our business."

He said Premier has more than 100 boxes of merchandise to sort through, but will have many more sporting goods to donate. Local sports teams that want on Premier's donation list should "like" the store on Facebook and send a message. The store is located at 875 Middle Road.

"There are many organizations and people who volunteer their time and support our community, so it really is nice if you can sometimes do them a good turn,'' Tague said.

Patronize Q-C restaurants this week

For the fifth consecutive year, the Quad-Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau is turning the spotlight on our restaurants, urging folks to enjoy lunch or dinner and casual or elegant dining during Quad-Cities Restaurant Week.

The annual promotion begins Monday and runs through Sunday. Visit www.qcrestaurantweek.com to find the 30 area eateries with specially prepared menus in the $7-$10 range for lunch and $15-$30 for multi-course dinners.

Reservations are recommended for establishments that accept them and mention Restaurant Week. For more information, call the tourism bureau at 309-277-0937.

Biz Bytes is a weekly column by Quad-City Times reporter Jennifer DeWitt. Contact her at 563-383-2318 or jdewitt@qctimes.com

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