Nothing runs like a Deere—especially when the country is need of quality equipment. Although the Moline Seeding Group in Moline, Illinois, are accustomed to building planting equipment and precision agriculture solutions, the employees have switched gears and are now making 400,000 protective face shields to aid in the need for more personal protective equipment, or PPE, for the COVID-19 pandemic.

"These health care professionals are our neighbors and might even be our own family members—we know them well, we go to the same churches, schools, and they care for our employees and families," said David Ottavianelli, John Deere director of labor relations. "Our factory leaders have been in constant communication with their respective healthcare organizations and they expressed the need for additional PPE. This personal connection and these conversations led us to act. We knew we needed to do more to help the true heroes in this fight against this virus."

According to Deere & Co., the face shields will be distributed by factories in Deere’s network to meet immediate needs of health care workers. Originally, Deere was making the shields for health care workers in their immediate area and planned to donate 225,000 shields, however an extreme response to their mission prompted them to up their donation to 400,000 shields in an effort to aid people on the frontline in more areas.

“A high level of employee empathy and passion to make a difference, coupled with an incredible level of efficiency resulted in us quickly delivering face shields to the healthcare workers during the peak of the crisis," Ottavianelli said. "The Seeding factory changed over the production lines and created innovative processes within days—normally takes months—to make this happen. It was amazing to see our employees in action. They are the real stars.”

According to Ottavianelli, by May 1st, the company will have shipped over 200,000 face shields.  After the first round of deliveries, additional deliveries were sent to other local areas. As word of mouth spread about the face shields, additional order requests have come in. Ottavianelli said the facility currently have orders in excess of 300,000 shields and plan to donate 400,000 shields to support healthcare workers in 13 states.

"We are so proud of the actions of our employees," Ottavianelli said. "We wanted to make a difference and stepped up in this time of crisis to support our communities as we fight the pandemic. We thank all the healthcare workers and first responders for their efforts and continued commitment to our communities."

Lacey Newlin can be reached at 580-748-1892 or lnewlin@hpj.com.

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