Mark Johnston’s passion for John Deere equipment runs deeper than his employment. During the past 15 years, the senior engineer for the Current Product Engineering Hydraulic and Drive Team at John Deere Harvester Works has collected more than 150 vintage John Deere machines.
From the early age of six, Johnston’s interest in restoration and engines was sparked when he and his father would attend the local steam engine rally shows. He cultivated that interest through college where he served as the president of his university’s engineering society, which restored old machinery.
An Auction Fueled his Hobby
A trip to North Dakota set the course for his hobby. “Having started working for John Deere in early 2000, my friend suggested I buy a John Deere ‘D’ tractor at an auction and that’s it.?That was my first piece of John Deere equipment,” Johnston said.
“Initially it was simply a fascination for a tractor or two. But as I learned more, I found a passion for restoration and now have one of the largest collections of two-cylinder diesel tractors.”
Perhaps the item Johnston is most excited about is his most recent purchase from New York. “I just bought an 820 Industrial Tractor with certain option and painted yellow,” said Johnston. Johnston’s collection of more than 150 vintage farm machines continues to grow as he travels around the U.S. to auctions to pick up the machines, collect parts and owner’s manuals.
Better Customer Perspective
Being a collector provides another perspective to Johnston as a John Deere employee. “Being a collector gives me another viewpoint on the company and enhances my loyalty to the company – as if I needed anymore,” shared Johnston. “It gives me another connection to the customer, because I am the customer, and it helps me to see value in the company.”
His favorite machines include a 1960 John Deere 55 Combine and his 1951 Model ‘R’ Tractor. Both are in perfect working condition. “It’s such a wonderful demonstration of the longevity of our products and I often think about that in my work,” shared Johnston. “We need to build products that will last, because quality is our reputation. And that’s what I get to do every day.”