|From Seat of His Pants to Company Head|
It can be truly said that Greg Clark learned the farm implement business from the bottom up. He grew up on a farm near Bounty, Saskatchewan and as a youngster spent many hours sitting on the hard steel seats of tractors, hay rakes and other farm equipment. Little did he think as he rode them, that some day he would be the president of the company that makes them!
Today, Greg is President of John Deere Limited, the largest farm implement company in Canada. But the road to the presidency was a rocky one. After spending grades one to eight in a one-room schoolhouse, Greg took part of his high school instruction by correspondence because there was no transportation to the nearest high school. He stuck with his education, attended the University of Saskatchewan where he majored in agricultural engineering, then joined the John Deere Company as a trainee.
Asked if he would follow that same route today he answered enthusiastically "Yes"! But what are the chances for a young person doing the same thing in this new world?
"The world has changed a lot since then. I don't think young people can spring up the ladder as quickly as you could back then. The economics of the business are different. We are dealing in a shrinking market and competition is fierce. But on the plus side the universities are sending out much better trained graduates who have a keener understanding of market conditions. Their education is broader-based. Our company seeks the person who wants to get ahead. The old work ethic is still alive and well at John Deere."
Greg says it is no harder for women or minorities to rise within the company. "If they are willing to go after the job, women have as good or better chance of reaching the top."
Greg's own climb came through that same hard work which meant a move to Columbus, Ohio where he was sales manager in charge of five States. He returned to Canada as General Manager and now is not only the President of John Deere but also Past President of the Canadian Farm and Industrial Equipment Institute.
Greg's brother Brad took over the family farm in Bounty while Greg has a "Gentleman's Farm" in Grimsby, Ontario. This Canadian Achiever, the boy who ran tractors, now runs the company that builds them but, is still a farm boy at heart.
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