Business

Deere offers buyouts to salaried employees

Workers can take the deals during July

Deere & Co. said it could have further reductions, such as layoffs, of salaried employees beyond the buyouts offered, wh
Deere & Co. said it could have further reductions, such as layoffs, of salaried employees beyond the buyouts offered, which was part of the announcement that went out to employees Thursday. Above, Deere tractors are seen as they are transported en route to Texas for shipment to Brazil. (The Gazette)

Deere & Co. rolled out another round of buyouts for U.S. salaried employees Thursday.

The voluntary severance program is for U.S. active salaried employees. Some positions are exempt, such as workers in the Moline, Ill.-based manufacturer’s precision ag, data and analytics and IT departments, said Jen Hartmann, Deere’s director of public relations.

The company could have further reductions, such as layoffs, of salaried employees beyond the buyouts offered, which was part of the announcement that went out to employees Thursday.

“These decisions, while difficult, are designed to ensure we have the skills and competencies needed to best support customers and to successfully position Deere for the future,” Hartmann said.

The structure of this buyout program is similar to a round of voluntary separation packages Deere offered to workers in recent months.

This latest round of buyouts comes on the heels of last week’s announcement of the company restructuring to accelerate integration of smart technology innovation with Deere’s manufacturing.

“With the Smart Industrial Redesign, the company is really looking to have that greater sense of speed and agility and investments on the areas that have the greatest impact for our customers. So this is that additional opportunity for our U.S. salaried employees to take advantage of the separation package,” Hartmann said.

Employees can take buyouts July 1 to July 31.

The salaried employee buyouts — coupled with layoffs of factory workers at facilities in Iowa in the last year — are happening as Deere has been hit by both sides of international trade wars as the company, and its customers, have felt the crunch from trade wars in 2018 and 2019.

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While there was hope of relief when new trade deals were signed in late 2019 and early 2020, the coronavirus has mostly wiped that out.

Deere disclosed its earnings were likely off by $1 billion, largely from COVID-19 and its ripple effects.

The buyouts, coupled with the Smart Industrial Redesign, allow Deere “to continue investing in the talent and research-and-development programs that are going to allow us to respond to our customer needs, now and in the future,” Hartmann said.

This is just the latest action by Deere since John May took over as company CEO last fall, and more recently as chairman, while Deere continues to make investments and focus on precision ag, or the use of technology to allow operators to more precisely operate in their field.

Those moves, combined with Deere’s purchase of Blue River Technologies in 2019, are steps the Moline-based manufacturer is taking to become the Apple of the ag industry.

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