Deere to Lay Off 460 Workers in Waterloo

by George C. Ford, The Gazette

WATERLOO — The layoff of 460 employees at Deere & Co. operations in Waterloo is expected to be felt in terms of reduced retail spending in the community.

Deere, which operates six facilities employing about 6,000 in the community, said workers were notified Friday of the indefinite layoffs, which will begin Oct. 20. Most of the layoffs come from two locations — tractor cab assembly operations (about 240) and drivetrain operations (about 195).

There also will be a few employees affected at service parts operations, engine works and the product engineering center, according to Ken Golden, director of global public relations for Deere.

Steve Dust, president and CEO of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance and Chamber, said the impact will likely begin rippling through the community in coming weeks.

“The workers and their families will start planning ahead and be more conservative about their spending in our local stores and entertainment venues,” Dust said. “We know that’s going to work its way into our marketplace pretty soon.”

Deere manufactures medium and large row crop tractors, cab assemblies, marine and industrial diesel engines, drivetrain components, wheel assemblies, gray and ductile iron castings, and tractor parts and components in Waterloo.

When Moline, Ill.-based Deere reported its third quarter earnings Aug. 13, the company said it planned to reduce production of agricultural equipment for the rest of the year in response to slow market demand due to a sharp drop in commodity prices.

On Aug. 14, Deere said it would indefinitely lay off more than 600 employees at plants in Iowa, Illinois and Kansas.

Deere has hired several hundred manufacturing employees in recent years to meet global demand and also has made significant capital investments in plants and equipment.

“Deere has invested more than $1 billion in its Waterloo operations over the last 10 years,” Dust said. “The company’s Cedar Valley manufacturing base, product engineering center and foundry have all been built to respond to global market requirements.

“We believe this is a market fluctuation adjustment and hopefully those folks will be going back to work fairly soon.”

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