The Green Tractor: John Deere

John Deere mailboxLong before Jason Aldean’s hit single “My Big Green Tractor”, farmer’s had a love affair with John Deere.  John Deere has it all.  Founded in 1868, Deere & Company has grown for over 175 years while continually expanding its products, its markets and its core values.  It serves farmers, ranchers, landowners, home owners,  and builders in the U.S. and throughout the world by providing a broad range of high quality products, large and small.  A worldwide leader in agricultural and building machinery, it has roots deep in the community. Simultaneously, it looks to the future by continuing to provide innovative products for its customers.

ALL BUSINESS IS LOCAL–  Wow.  I love it.  With world headquarters in Moline, Illinois, Deere manufactures products throughout the U.S. at plants in Iowa, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Illinois, North Dakota and California. It’s marketing, design and distribution sites are even more extensive.  In addition, it manufactures its products in Canada, Central and South America, Europe, USA FlagAsia and Africa.  The Deere philosophy espouses conducting business and manufacturing operations at home in the U.S., as wells as in the nations it serves.

WORKING THE LAND-PROTECTING THE PLANET–  John Deere’s long-standing commitment to safeguarding the environment is reflected in its goal to reduce its carbon footprint in its physical plant and in its product lines.  It has adopted 2018 Enterprise Eco-Efficiency Goals.  Deere’s goals include reducing its greenhouse gas emissions and its water consumption by 15% between 2012-2018 and recycling 75% of its waste by 2013.   Deere introduces its first diesel-electric hybrid wheel loader in 2013.

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EMPLOYEES ARE A TOP PRIORITY– Deere also recognizes the value of its employees.  Deere offers base pay, bonuses, stock options and other long-term cash awards. Consistent with its recognition as “among the best places to work”, it encourages employees to continue their educations.  In a partnership between John Deere, its deals, and select community colleges, Deere’s C & F Tech initiative offers job training through a two-year associate degree focused on an Ag & Turf Technician program and a Diesel Technology program.

Deere’s Supplier Code of Conduct requires suppliers to comply with restrictions on child labor, prohibits forced labor, supports diversity and equal opportunity, requires treatment of all workers with respect and dignity, and protects the right of workers to report concerns without fear of retaliation.

9,500 Deere employees are represented by the American Auto Workers.

DEERE’S PHILANTHROPIC COMMITMENT

Deere’s philanthropic activities include support for education, for the development of sustainable food supplies and economic growth, and community enrichment. These activities also include efforts alleviating hunger, while advancing education and supporting community development.

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John Deere:  A best buy!

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Made in the USA Series: Good Buys, Great Clothes

Our blog has repeatedly turned to the issue of buying local products.  When we are together, Meg and I enjoy finding clothes, appliances, and local establishments to investigate and evaluate.  Her most recent visit was focused on clothes.  We are determined to search out and discover exciting products made here in the states and to look for other “good buys”.

Wow.  That is the best way to describe this season’s “made in the U.S.A.” clothes Meg and I found at Halls Department Store [1] on the Country Club Plaza.  Enticed by Meg’s $200 gift card, we decided to check out Halls’s upscale clothing department to see what we could find that is made here in the states.  We were so excited.  There is nothing drab, boring or unappealing about these labels.  Names like Citizen for Humanity, J Brand, Splendid, Vizcaino, Yoana Baraschi and Bailey44 are on the shelves in great styles, vivid colors and wearable clothes.  While not priced for everyone, they are proof positive we can find great clothes manufactured here in the states.

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Meg loved this top made by Splendid.  Virtually everything in this photo was made in the U.S.A.

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This is a fun, casual dress by Splendid.

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Definitely patriotic, befitting its “made in the U.S.A.” heritage, this is another dress by Bailey44.

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I bought this top made by Bailey44.

Who said you can’t find a variety of fashionable clothing made in the U.S.?  Well, actually we have said it ourselves!  Now we are finding that with persistence, and a willingness to carefully check labels, we can find great clothes we are more than happy to wear ourselves.  Happy shopping!

[1]  Some or all of these brands are also available at stores such as Bloomingdales, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom’s and Saks Fifth Avenue.  They are also available online.

Made In–Bangladesh

IMG_2525According to news reports, millions of items of clothing were manufactured in a single building in the city of Savar, in the heart of Bangladesh. When that building collapsed on April 24, 2013, more than 350 workers died as a result of that collapse; almost all women between the ages of 18-20. More than 1000 were injured. Over three thousand workers labored in that building, purportedly working for wages of 26 cents per hour or less. Before 2010, when the minimum wage was increased in Bangladesh from $21 per month to $38 per month, their wages would have been less.

This is not an isolated tragedy. Five months earlier, on November 24, 2012, more than 100 workers were killed when a fire engulfed another garment factory in Savar. The clothing manufactured in those buildings was shipped from the factories for sale in Europe, Canada and the United States.

The highly reputable international charity, Oxfam, has stated that:
“We can make choices that will make a difference. So too can retailers. The easiest thing is to choose not to see the story behind the brands, but we can also choose to buy clothes that are the products of transparent and non-abusive supply chains. Retailers can choose to do the same, and can hold their suppliers to account–not least by ensuring they respect standard safety measures that protect their workers lives.”

This is not the first time our blog has written about the challenges of buying U.S. made products and products made in other countries by businesses that agree to comply with international treaties designed to protect workers. These treaties include the United Nations Global Compact and SA8000.

 See our post on “Made in the USA: The importance of buying local” from Jan. 12, 2012 here.

These treaties were designed to set standards for global companies involving human rights, the environment, anti-corruption and ethical labor standards. It is a challenge, however, to identify consumer products that are made by companies that have agreed to these principles: provide humane working conditions, treat their employees with dignity, provide safe working conditions and pay reasonable wages.

See our post on “Made in the USA: Clothing. What to do when this is no ‘Made in the USA’ Choice? ” from Feb.4, 2012 here.

If the two of us have clothing in our closets that are made in factories like those where workers have been killed, it is not because we turn a blind eye. It is a sad circumstance that it remains difficult to find products made in the U.S. and even more difficult to identify products made abroad according to international treaties.

Perhaps our blog can focus more of our attention to the challenges we face as consumers to support businesses where workers are treated humanely.
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The opinions expressed in this post are not the opinions of our families, our friends or our employers.

Made in the USA Series: The U.S. auto industry gets a well-earned nod during the Super Bowl

It has been a tumultuous 4 years in the automotive industry. The bankruptcies of General Motors and Chrysler as well as the near bankruptcy of Ford Motor Company shook Detroit to it’s core. Stock prices plummeted as we watched what appeared to be the end of Detroit’s influence in the industry. It was a roller coaster ride. But, that was then. This is now.

Yesterday was Super Bowl Sunday. It seems that everyone watched the game. Even people who don’t care about football watch the ads. I loved the Volkswagen ad focused on a dog’s motivation to become physically fit, and was bemused by Chevrolet’s spoof of the Mayan calendar’s 2012 doomsday predictions. But it was Clint Eastwood, in Chrysler’s ad, “Halftime in America,” that inspired us to envision a new era of national rebirth.

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Released before the Super Bowl was Chrysler’s new advertising campaign, “Imported From Detroit.” The message of the ads is that we don’t “have to cross an ocean to obtain luxury.” But is this message accurate? We did some checking and found that there seems to be a rebirth of the U.S. automobile industry. In addition to manufacturing plants throughout the world, foreign and domestic automobile manufacturers have significant operations in the U.S. Here are just some of the companies with manufacturing and/or assembly operations in the United States—

Domestic Companies 

Ford Motor Company—Ford, Lincoln and Mercury in Michigan; Missouri; Illinois, Kentucky; and Minnesota.

General Motors–Buick in Michigan; Cadillac in Michigan and Texas; Chevrolet in Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Kansas, Kentucky, Indiana and Louisiana.

Chrysler—Chryslers in Michigan; Dodge in Michigan and Ohio; and Jeep in Detroit, Ohio and Illinois. Chrysler announced on February 3, 2012, that it will add 1,800 jobs at its plant in Belvidere, Illinois, where it assembles the Dodge Dart, Jeep Patriot and Jeep Compass.

Foreign Companies 

Honda—Ohio, Indiana and Alabama.

Mercedes Benz—Alabama.

BMW—South Carolina.

Infiniti—Mississippi.

Acura—Ohio.

Suzuki—Georgia and Tennessee.

Volkswagen—Tennessee. Its new plant in Tennessee employs 2000 workers and was recently recognized for its commitment to environmentally responsible manufacturing.

There is a lot to celebrate for the U.S. economy in the revitalization of this industry. We had a rough “first half” in our economy, but we are rebuilding. The economy is growing. And we are going to have a much better “second half.”