CEO of the Week: John May of Deere & Co.

Farm and construction equipment maker Deere & Co. has a new CEO: John C. May.

In November, May, 50, assumed the top post at the Moline, Ill.-based company, as Samuel R. Allen, 65, stepped down while maintaining the board chairmanship. May had served as Deere’s president and chief operating officer since April.

“John’s record of success and proven leadership skills make him highly qualified to lead Deere and guide its success in the years ahead,” Allen said in August, when the company’s board announced May’s election to CEO and to the board of directors.

“His experience in precision agriculture, information technology, and overseas operations will be instrumental in driving the company’s digitalization journey and extending its success in agricultural and construction equipment,” Allen said.

May joined Deere in 1997 and became part of the senior management team in 2012 as president, agricultural solutions and chief information officer. Last year, he was named president, worldwide agriculture and turf division, with responsibility for the Americas and Australia, the global harvesting, turf and utility, and crop care platforms, and intelligent-solutions group.

In addition, May has experience in Deere’s worldwide construction and forestry division having been factory manager at the John Deere Dubuque Works. In other roles, he was vice president, global turf and utility platform, and managing director of Deere’s China operations during a period of significant growth.

He joined John Deere in 1997 after working as a management consultant at KPMG Peat Marwick.

In the third quarter, Deere reported net income of $722 million, or $2.27 a share, compared with $785 million, or $2.42 a share, a year ago – and 15 cents above the analysts’ consensus estimate polled by FactSet, according to MarketWatch.

Excluding one-time items, earnings were $2.14 a share, a penny above the estimate. Sales rose 5% to $9.9 billion – above the $8.47 billion analysts had expected.

Deere’s performance reflected “continued uncertainties in the agricultural sector,” May said in the company’s earnings release.

“Lingering trade tensions coupled with a year of difficult growing and harvesting conditions have caused many farmers to become cautious about making major investments in new equipment,” he said. “Additionally, financial services results have come under pressure due to operating-lease losses.”

At the same time, general economic conditions have remained favorable for the company, May said.

“This has supported demand for smaller equipment and led to solid results for Deere’s construction and forestry business, which had a record year for sales and operating profit,” he said.

He’s No. 85 on Chief Executive and RHR International’s CEO1000 Tracker, a ranking of the top 1,000 public/private companies

Headquarters: Moline, Illinois

Age: 50

Education: University of Maine, MBA

First joined company: 1997

Prior to joining Deere: Management consultant at KPMG Peat Marwick.

Named CEO: August 2019