Tony Rollin knows how important diverse perspectives and an inclusive culture are to a high performing team. That's why when he became factory manager of John Deere Augusta Works in 2017, he took action.
"Our workforce reflected the community in terms of our number of Black employees, but most were in entry-level positions," Rollin recalled. "I think it is very important that leadership reflects the group they are leading, and I appreciate that John Deere values diversity in the workplace. We made great strides in attracting diverse leadership talent in the first 18 months and it is a privilege to lead this highly collaborative team."
Rollin came to the Grovetown, Georgia, facility—where John Deere builds utility tractors—after previously working at Des Moines Works in Iowa and before that the automotive industry. He is Augusta Works' first Black factory manager.
"I value diversity not because I am Black but because I truly value diverse perspectives and an inclusive culture," Rollin said. "I believe in a diverse and collaborative team, and in my career have had the opportunity to work with diverse high performing teams."
Proof that Rollin's approach worked is evident in Augusta Works' success. In his first year at the factory, Augusta Works had a record year in volume, becoming the company's highest volume tractor factory. That was followed by another record year in 2019, and despite the pandemic, 2020 was also among the top five years in sales volume.
To manage the high volume, Rollin hired over 500 people during the first year, including employees from other John Deere locations to get a diverse perspective.
"We're becoming a very diverse group and working to improve diversity at all levels," he said. "As a result, we're seeing improvements in overall profitability, which is a very big win for us. We couldn't have done this without a high collaborating team with a perspective of diversity."