John Deere Dubuque Works celebrates 250,000th backhoe - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

John Deere Dubuque Works celebrates 250,000th backhoe

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DUBUQUE COUNTY (KWWL) -

One of eastern Iowa's biggest employers added a couple of feathers to its green and yellow cap Thursday, amid an uncertain economy.

For the fifth consecutive year, Fortune Magazine listed John Deere in its annual Top 50 Most Admired Companies.

That, of course, is good news for the Moline, Ill.-based company, but Deere is marking a milestone in eastern Iowa, too.

On Thursday, John Deere Dubuque Works celebrated its 250,000th backhoe. The first-ever Deere backhoe came out of the facility 42 years ago.

A ceremony Thursday brought together more than 200 Deere employees, from engineers to folks who work on the line to upper management.

The 310SK backhoe loader, which marked the facility's quarter-millionth backhoe, is just one of more than 50 backhoe models the company has produced since 1971.

Every John Deere backhoe in North America came out of the Dubuque facility, whose manager Byron Taylor called Thursday's celebration an important event.

"It's demonstrating the value of our brand worldwide, the quality, the craftsmanship that our employees put into the product," Taylor said. "It is a very significant event for us here in Dubuque."

The 250,000th backhoe went to NPL Construction Company, which has bought some 1,000 backhoes from John Deere over the years.

Earlier in February, Deere announced record first-quarter earnings of $650 million.

At Wednesday's annual shareholder meeting in Moline, Ill., chairman and CEO Samuel Allen forecasted a record-setting profit for the year of $3.3 billion. He predicted continued global expansion as countries throughout the world work to increase their food growing and production.

Mike Mack is president of Deere's construction and forestry division. He was at the Dubuque event Thursday and said the company has a big overall revenue goal to reach by 2018.

"We have an overall revenue goal of 50 billion dollars as a full company, and of course each part of it is expected to produce their part and to produce it in a profitable way, quality products, good experience for the customers, good experiences for the employees," he said.

Allen said at the shareholder meeting he attributes the company's strong start to the flourishing agricultural sector. First quarter sales in the agriculture and turf division increased 16 percent. However, in construction and forestry -- the machines produced at John Deere Dubuque Works -- first quarter sales decreased by seven percent. Still, Deere is forecasting an overall three percent increase in sales in this division for 2013.

John Deere Dubuque Works employs nearly 2,500 people from the Dubuque area.

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