With business aviation constantly barraged by criticism over the last few years, you might wonder how a publicly traded company justifies a fleet of transcontinental business jets. In the case of John Deere, the question is rarely asked by shareholders who instead recognize the effectiveness of the global company’s management.
Dave Everitt, president of the Agriculture and Turf Division of the Moline, Ill.-based company says his job would be nearly impossible without the benefits of business aviation. “I shudder to think of how much more difficult it would be to get my job done without business aviation,” he told a crowd at the opening general session of the National Business Aviation convention in Las Vegas on Oct. 10. “Business aviation is crucial to the success in growing a multinational company.”
Everitt told AOPA Live that the immediate tangible benefits of traveling by business aircraft are not always easy to measure. However, he said that face-to-face meetings in the 35 countries on six continents where the company does business yield long-term benefits. He frequently makes trips to China, India, Africa, and throughout Europe building relationships that result in sales to help improve the efficiency of growing food for the growing world population. The world’s population will increase by 30 percent in the next 40 years, he said. As a result, the world’s food supply must double in the next four decades. “And John Deere is well positioned to meet that demand.”
“I have my best meetings in the airplane,” he said, describing the flights as a terrific time for the multiple staff members on board to fine tune a presentation or proposal.
While Everitt isn’t qualified to fly the John Deere fleet, he is a pilot and AOPA member who learned to fly nearly 30 years ago. He said the experience of learning to fly helped him realize the importance of business aviation to John Deere’s success.