Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue felt right at home Tuesday atop a John Deere tractor while touring the company's 5000 Plant in Grovetown.
Gov. Sonny Perdue climbs aboard a tractor on the assembly line while touring the John Deere 5000 Plant in Grovetown. He said he spent a good portion of his childhood riding tractors.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
"I love tractors," Perdue told plant supervisors after a guided tour of the assembly line. "I love to come to places where things are made, where you take all the component pieces of all the different things and you get a really value-added product at the end. I've always been intrigued by the industrial manufacturing process."
Perdue was invited to tour the John Deere facility while in Columbia County on Tuesday for a public forum with his recent Georgia Supreme Court appointee Harold Melton, concerning how to share and manage the resources of the Savannah River.
Perdue said he has a soft spot for tractors. He grew up on a farm near Bonaire, Ga., and had been riding tractors - pulling a watermelon wagon or in the hay fields - since he was able to walk.
"Tractors are pretty memorable to me and have been a big part of my life," Perdue told plant supervisors. "But it was impressive seeing that facility that is here that y'all created."
Perdue was given the grand tour by 5000 Plant Operations Manager Jim Matthews and took every opportunity to shake the hands of employees and climb on the tractors with a childlike grin.
Wearing cowboy boots, Perdue pushed on all the pedals and played with all the buttons and levers on the tractors awaiting a final test before being shipped.
"I think the governor needs one," Matthews said, watching Perdue climb into the driver seat of a deluxe model with a closed-in cab and air conditioning.
Perdue agreed he would like one, but said his wife does all the yard work.
"It's a sorry man that won't get his wife a good lawn mower," Perdue joked.
Joking aside, the governor said Georgia's future includes manufacturing plants such as John Deere.
As the owner of two agribusinesses, including grain elevators, Perdue said he believes agriculture is a vital part of Georgia's economy and he would like to attract more manufacturers that support agribusiness.
"In my current job, from a jobs perspective and from a manufacturing perspective, it's important to me to keep a good manufacturing base in Georgia," Perdue said.
"Basic manufacturing is still, in my opinion, going to be a huge component of what we do.
"We want Georgia to be very friendly to those people who make things and manufacture value-added goods such as the 5000 John Deere tractor and the 4000 John Deere tractor."
Perdue walked out of the meeting in a green John Deere hat with a toy tractor under his arm.
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