Updated 6:15 p.m.: The newly remodeled John Deere Pavilion in downtown Moline is putting as much emphasis on its customers as its history.
“Now our focus is not only agriculture but all of John Deere business from a global standpoint,” Al Higley, the manager of Deere & Co.-branded properties, told reporters after a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday morning.
“That gives us an opportunity to talk about the brand and what that means in all parts of the world.”
The 15-year-old pavilion along River Drive reopened Wednesday after two months of renovations. It also coincides with Deere’s 175th anniversary.
Deere products, shown in their natural environments, Higley said, are the “stars of the experience.”
They include the company’s expansions into forestry, construction, and home and garden machinery.
“(Visitors) really don’t have any idea how this operates and what it means to the people who own it and operate it,” Higley said.
“The more people know about that, the better-informed they are, the better choices they can be making and the better opinions that can be formed.”
The project had been in the discussion stages for several years.
“It’s a wonderful feeling,” said Brigitte Tapscott, the assistant manager of the pavilion.
“It’s been so exciting to see it all pieced together. We went from animated drawings to the real-life version and it’s just beautiful.”
The 12,000-square-foot space includes an expanded children’s area with not toys that can help create bridges and roads and a large-screen interactive smart board.
“It’s fun and there’s a little bit of education that kind of sneaks in there as well,” Higley said.
It’s already made a quick impression on 5-year-old Karsten Hulme of Davenport, one of 30 children from the Red Wagon Preschool in Moline who were brought in to be the first guests.
“I think it’s ...” Karsten said, pausing to gather his thoughts, “pretty awesome.”
Earlier version: The John Deere Pavilion in Moline reopened this morning after a multimillion-dollar facelift.
Deere & Co. officials opened the facility to the public after a ribbon-cutting.
The new visitor center includes different types of machinery under the Deere brand, with forestry equipment, construction, water and lawn and garden implements joining tractors and combines in the 12,000-square-foot space.
The new pavilion, which opened after two months of remodeling, places as much emphasis on Deere customers and employees as it does its own history.
“This facility is all about our customers and all about the brand,” Frances Emerson, vice president of corporate communications and global brand management, told a crowd of about 100 dignitaries and Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce members.