AUSTIN (KXAN) — In its push to become a company increasingly reliant on technology and smart tractors, John Deere is opening up shop in Austin.
Blacksmith John Deere created a clever steel plow 185 years ago, and now the company launched its first fully autonomous tractor this year. It’s that evolution that has convinced the iconic company with its green machines that it’s not just an agriculture company — it’s a tech company operating in the agriculture industry.
It’s the latest development for a company that says it’s been putting advanced technology on tractors for 20 years now.
“At the present moment, technology is just expanding rapidly in agriculture,” said Chief Technology Officer Jahmy Hindman. “Fundamentally, we’ve got 7.5 billion people on the planet today. We’re headed to 9 billion in 2030. We’ve got to feed them all and technology is the answer to that.”
Hindman said the company chose Austin, and specifically its new South Congress Avenue location, for a variety of reasons, but mainly for the city’s “great access to technical talent.” With all the tech businesses setting up shop in Central Texas, all the industry’s top talent is doing the same.
“It also has every production system we care about,” Hindman said. “Corn, cotton, soybeans, you name it, Texas has it. We have the ability to be really close to the customers in agriculture.”
John Deere has 70,000 employees globally, and the hope is for 50 to be in the Austin office for now. Hindman said it would eventually grow to 100 as the company grows. It is also expanding operations in Iowa and in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The company’s office is on two upper floors in a 10,000-square-foot space with boot company Tecovas in the bottom floor’s retail space.
For now, its spot on South Congress will be a technology development site, but as Hindman pointed out, it has an ideal location to also be one for marketing if the company chooses.
“It’s a fantastic location,” Hindman said. ” I think we want to attract people back into the office so they can collaborate, and South Congress is just a wonderful place for us to do that.”