Deere & Co. CEO Sam Allen on Wednesday administered a welcome dose of anxiety relief to the entire Quad-Cities.
The collective concern wasn't unfounded. Just last month, one of Deere's biggest rivals, Caterpillar, announced its plans to move its corporate offices from Peoria to Chicago.
It's natural, as one stockholder noted, for those interested in Deere's future prospects to wonder if Deere might follow suit. Caterpillar brass cited access to transportation as one driving reason. Surely, Chicago's more significant global prominence and the substantial capital there played a part in the decision, too. Deere faces nearly identical market forces and fluctuations.
But Allen didn't dodge the question.
"Every company has to do what they think is right for their company," Allen said to shareholders at Wednesday's annual meeting. "At John Deere, we feel very strongly this is our home."
Allen added that Moline will be Deere's home for as long as he's around.
Analysts chalked the slumping revenues in recent years at both Deere and Caterpillar to a global farming recession and a slowing construction equipment market. Until recently, stock prices for the two companies largely mirrored each other. Deere broke the slump in the 2017's first quarter. Sales jumped $100 million compared to Q1 2016, the company announced.
Deere is quite literally the spine of the Quad-Cities economy. It's by far the largest private employer in the region, touting about 6,000 employees in the Quad-Cities. The company's total impact on the local economy is immense. Just the PGA tournament it sponsors, the John Deere Classic, pumps more than $4 million into the economy, say local officials. And it's long been a good citizen, supporting numerous local efforts that better the community.
Stock ownership isn't required. Every Quad-Cities resident has a vested interest in Deere & Co.
Deere continues to do well by its shareholders, typically returning steady returns on investment. Deere remains profitable amid the global turmoil. Allen's fairly aggressive stock buyback push over the past few years has saved millions in dividend payments. And the first quarter of 2017 saw an uptick in revenue. At the end of the day, that's what matters most to stockholders.
It all bodes well for Sam Allen. And, on Wednesday, Allen pledged his loyalty to the Quad-Cities.