John Jenkins - John Deere & Co.
|By DENNE GOLDSTEIN|
|When John Jenkins signed on as an accountant in the Des Moines factory of Deere & Company, he probably never dreamed he would one day become president of a major division of a public company. That was thirty-seven years ago. Today Jenkins is president of the Worldwide Commercial and Consumer Equipment Division, as well as president of John Deere Health Services.|
"I remember shortly after I joined Deere, my boss told me, 'This is a young man's company. There is no limit as to where you can go, provided, you don't set limits for yourself.'" Jenkins has followed that rule. As he climbed up the corporate ladder, he began to realize that Deere & Company was more than just an iron company. Even though Jenkins feels they build the greatest product on this earth, his company has become a people business, striving to provide its various customers with products and services they need to improve their business.
Only a few years ago, Deere & Company got into the irrigation and landscape distribution business by purchasing Century Rain Aid and McGinnis Farms, and renaming the division John Deere Landscapes. Today, John Deere Landscapes has more than 260 stores and covers most of the United States, with locations in Canada as well.
"John Deere would probably not be in the non-equipment side of the business were it not for John Jenkins," said Dave Werning, president of John Deere Landscapes. "John Jenkins is a visionary." Werning knows Jenkins well; they served on the same board of directors some fifteen years ago. John Deere Landscapes is a business unit under Jenkins umbrella.
"These are exciting times," commented Jenkins. "For us to succeed in business, we have to make sure the contractor succeeds in his business. Sure, we sell equipment and we sell irrigation and landscape supplies, but we've learned a while ago how important it is to service our customers, to make their business better. If that means helping them, that's what we're going to do; if we can support them by helping with logistics, that's what we'll do. We're passionate about what we do."
In these fast-paced times, Jenkins feels the need to keep moving. He spends about 75% of his time traveling. "I like to get out and touch the people," remarked Jenkins. He visits factories, spends time with the dealerships and talking to customers. "I like to keep my finger on the pulse."
"A major concern that we all face, especially in our industry, is the conservation of water. We must develop good water management practices," Jenkins emphasized. "Some day, water will be as valuable as oil. It's a fact that the ultimate customer, the homeowner or small commercial property owner, has a tendency to overwater the landscape. It is our responsibility to help educate the contractor so that he can pass along that information to his customers. We feel very strongly that we must learn to conserve our most precious resource."
"If we can develop good water management practices, our industry has no limits to its growth." Jenkins knows his company will be a major part of that growth. "John is a motivational type leader," Werning said. "He sees a vision, sets it, and then allows his people to make it happen."
To this day, Jenkins espouses that very same principle he was told when he first joined the company: "This is a young man's business. There is no limit to where you can go, provided you don't set limits. I believe the opportunities are even greater today than when I joined the company."
Jenkins, with his wife Janice, make their home in Cary, North Carolina. He enjoys playing a round of golf, likes jogging and walking, but he also enjoys working in his yard. "My yard is a part of my personality, I like working with my hands." Unfortunately, his work doesn't allow him to spend that much time in his yard. Jenkins does enjoy traveling, and it's a good thing, since he spends so much time doing it.
Jenkins takes his wife along on a business trip occasionally. "My wife Janice is an important partner, meeting customers and employees, making them feel more comfortable. Occasionally, we'll tack on a few extra days to our business travel and just visit the part of the country that we happen to be in." Inspirational motivator and team leader, John Jenkins is a major reason for the success of his divisions.