They all have been on the Fortune 500 list for sixty-eight consecutive years since the ranking started in 1955. On the latest edition of 2022, General Motors is ranked 25th, Proctor & Gamble 47th, IBM 49th, and Deere 84th.
The Fortune 500 (view the full list by year here) is a list of the largest United States companies in terms of total revenue, which is published annually by Fortune magazine, an influential U.S. economic media. Since the very first edition in 1955, over 2,200 companies have decorated the list and a small number of just 49 companies have been included every year in the list until 2022. Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, and Google, the hottest IT giants topping the S&P 500 list in the 2020’s are on the Fortune 500 in 2022 but were not in 1955.
So, then what happened to those 451 companies, who were on the Fortune 500 list in 1955 but not in 2022? Many of the companies are unfamiliar or forgotten. Reasons do vary. They might have been merged with or acquired by another company, gone out of business, or are still in the business but the revenue might not be high enough to make the list.
The past 7 decades have been one of the most fluctuate periods with the fastest technological advancements in history and the 49 companies who have made the Fortune 500 list during this turbulent period can be said to have succeeded in meeting ever-changing customer needs through disruptive innovation.
This innovation DNA is at the core of John Deere’s 186-year heritage. John Deere, the blacksmith, and the founder himself, invented a ‘steel plow’ in 1837 that allowed farmers to cultivate crops more efficiently. When he moved to Illinois in the 1830’s, he realized that the farmers settling the area were having trouble, because their cast iron plow had to be scraped off every few feet in the sticky prairie soil.
Convinced that a different material and shape would solve the problem, John Deere found a broken steel sawblade, reshaped the blade, and turned it into the self-scouring steel plow. The smooth texture of the steel blade would cut through the sticky earth and the curved shape allowed the soil to turn over. This was when one man’s trash became Deere’s groundbreaking innovation that greatly contributed to the agricultural world.
Following the ingenious steel plow, were a series of innovative tractors: Waterloo Boy, Model D, Model A, Model B, and the New Generation of Power. Deere cared about customers too. During the Great Depression, Deere extended payment terms to support customers at a tough time and this helped strengthen the brand loyalty.
John Deere made its debut on the Fortune 500 list at 104th place when the list started in 1955 and was ranked 88th in 2021 and 84th in 2022, climbing up the ladder in the recent years. The future list is yet to be made, but John Deere will sure remain on the list as it is committed to running so life can leap forward.