Deere's Harvest

The tractor maker stayed flexible — and profitable — in the teeth of the downturn

Seth Perlman / AP

At Deere & Co., It hasn't been so easy being green lately. Since the Great Recession began in December 2007, Deere, the world's largest maker of farm equipment and a major builder of construction machinery, has watched earnings plummet by half. Construction sales worldwide fell by 45% last year alone, and agricultural sales sank more than 15%.

It is no small feat, then, that Deere earned $873 million in 2009 on sales of $23 billion. That's because the iconic manufacturer today is more focused on making profits than on just making tractors. Indeed, over the past decade, the firm's production capabilities...

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