John Deere will celebrate its 15th anniversary in Columbia County on Monday with an invitation-only ceremony celebrating the company's employees and its progress.
At 10:30 a.m., corporate executives, previous plant managers and current and former employees will gather at the Grovetown facility for a celebration that will include a history of the company and factory, a luncheon and a demonstration of the construction of a plow, said factory spokeswoman Joye Seibles.
Production lines will shut down for a half-day as the company takes time to reflect on 15 years of growth and success, factory manager Rich Czarnecki said. "What it means for the plant ... is we've shown the ability to start a new business essentially with 25 people 15 years ago and successfully grow it to a level where we are now a billion-dollar business for the corporation," Czarnecki said.
Now, 15 years later, the factory employs as many as 800 people during the spring when production is heaviest, he said.
Several retired employees who were among the original 25 will be present for the ceremony; 10 are still employed at the facility, Seibles said.
On March 15, 1991, the first tractor rolled off the Grovetown assembly line, but Monday is the only day production and personnel schedules could permit the plant to close temporarily, Czarnecki said.
That first tractor also will be on display during the celebration. Czarnecki said it still runs.
Zack Daffin, executive director of the Development Authority of Columbia County, said John Deere remains a vital part of Columbia County's business community.
"They've supported us and worked with us to attract their suppliers and they expanded their operations here earlier this year," Daffin said, referring to an expansion and rearrangement of the facility, which added more than 20 jobs.
"The past has been absolutely wonderful for us and the future is very, very bright," Daffin said. "I see the relationship continuing to be a partnership with the common goal of sustained activity and positive economic growth."
Czarnecki said if John Deere continues to succeed and be cost-effective while providing products relevant to the consumer, his company's relationship with Columbia County should continue to thrive.
"We need to continue to develop products that customers need and if we do that then there are growth opportunities for John Deere," he said.
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