Dave Rodger, general manager of John Deere's Waterloo operations since 2007 - who has spent 22 years of his 35-year Deere career here and presided over a massive company reinvestment in its Waterloo facilties - is retiring effective July 1.
"It's been a great 35 years working for John Deere," Rodger said Saturday. Although he plans to travel and spend time with family, he will continue to live in Cedar Falls. "We intend to stay as involved as we can. We like it here," he said.
Replacing Rodger, whose formal title is global director of Deere's large tractor product line, will be Rich Czarnecki, a 20-year Deere employee who has held a number of positions at the company's Horicon, Wis., Works and Davenport Works. Most recently he was global director of Deere's utility tractor product line, and prior to that was worldwide director of Deere's 5000 series tractor business.
Czarnecki holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The changes were announced in company communications Thursday.
Under Rodger's leadership, Deere completed the redevelopment of its downtown Westfield Avenue and East Donald Street Tractor Works sites, initiated in 2000 by former Waterloo operations manager Mike Triplett and continued under successors Barry Schaffter and Pat Pinkston - and then exceeded that investment in Waterloo by a wide margin.
The Triplett-initiated $140 million redevelopment project was essentially completed about three years ago. During Rodger's tenure, Deere has invested more than double that amount in less than half the time in its Waterloo operations.
Major improvements included:
- A new melt operation at the Waterloo Foundry.
- Improvement in drivetrain operations at Westfield.
- An ongoing reconfiguration of production lines and a new high-tech paint operation installed this past year at the East Donald Street Tractor Works.
Also during Rodger's time, Deere's Waterloo employment topped 5,000 - its highest level in a decade or more. Deere and United Auto Workers Local 838 teamed to make record contributions to the Cedar Valley United Way, exceeding $1 million each of the past two years. Rodger served as 2009 United Way campaign co-chairman.
Deere's Waterloo-made and designed large row-crop tractor figured heavily in the company's record-tying five-year run of record profits - culminating in the company's first-ever $2 billion profit year in 2008 - and sustained the company's profitability through a large part of fiscal 2009 when the economy became tight.
Rodger also continued cooperation with the city of Waterloo and the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance in development of the Cedar Valley TechWorks, a record $17 million donation of land, buildings and technical assistance to located an ag-based product research and development center for new and developing businesses in renovated buildings on a former portion of Deere's Westfield site.
Rodger, a graduate of Purdue University, previously worked for Deere in Waterloo from 1976 to 1996 in positions at its Engine Works and Waterloo Works. Between his stints in Waterloo, he also was general manager of the Deere's Ottumwa Works and of the Des Moines Works in Ankeny.