Deere Career

From the corn fields of DeKalb County, Illinois to the sugar cane fields in Thailand, David Gilmore serves the agricultural industry globally through his executive role at John Deere.

David Gilmore has been all over the world with John Deere.

“Every day is a little bit different and the variety of roles I have held at John Deere kept the work ‘fresh’ while knowing in the big picture I was serving in an industry that has a responsibility to deliver food, fuel, and fiber to a growing global population with limited resources,” said David.

David interfaces with Deere dealers and customers primarily in North, Central and South America as Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing in the Ag and Turf Division.

His international travels now take him regularly to Mexico, Brazil, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and throughout the United States. He shares his work regime between global travels and his office at the John Deere world headquarters in Moline, Illinois.

After 33 years at Deere, David claims the most rewarding part of his job is “being close to our customers through the dealers that live and work and represent the John Deere brand in their community.”

Connecting with customers and industry leaders comes natural for David, a skillset he attributes to his farm roots and leadership experiences in DeKalb County.

Farm roots run deep in DeKalb County

David Gilmore grew up on a grain and livestock farm south of Shabbona. His father and grandfather, Robert Gilmore, Jr. and Sr., fed beef cattle and feeder pigs and grew corn and soybeans along with some grass and alfalfa hay for the livestock.

The John Deere 4430 was David Gilmore’s favorite tractor. He often drove this tractor as he helped his father and grandfather with their row crops during his high school years.

Like other farm kids, David said his younger years were “typical” in that he helped with livestock chores and crops. He was also active in the Rollo 4-H Club and Shabbona FFA, with cattle and grain projects, and served as president of these rural youth organizations.

One of his favorite farm stories from the past is when his grandfather taught him how to plow in a straight line with their John Deere 4430 tractor. “He explained the importance of choosing a target far out on the horizon and driving toward it. He also said you need to look behind occasionally to make sure you are doing a good job.”

In his youth, David Gilmore showed beef cattle and one year won the county’s Beef Efficiency Contest.

“As I took on more responsibilities in my John Deere career I use the ‘driving in a straight line story’ from my grandfather as a teachable point of view. The best way to set a vision is to look well out into the horizon, pick a target and drive straight toward it,” David said.

So naturally David wanted to be a farmer when he grew up, just like Dad and Grandpa. “But God had a different, better path for me,” he realized.

After graduating from Shabbona High School (as its valedictorian) David decided to study agricultural economics at the University of Illinois.

David’s father and grandfather, Robert Gilmore, Jr. and Sr., were his inspirations for seeking a career in agriculture. His grandfather was selected as a Master Farmer in 1972.

The mid-1980’s were some tough years for agriculture and farm families, including the Gilmores. Scholarships paved the way for the Gilmores to send their children to college.

Receiving the DeKalb County Farm Bureau Scholarship for the first two years of college, along with another highly regarded Illinois ag scholarship – the Jonathan Baldwin Turner (JBT) Scholarship – made it possible for David to go to college.

Benefactor of Farm Bureau College Scholarship

“I’m grateful for both the DeKalb County Farm Bureau Scholarship and the JBT Scholarship,” said David. “These scholarships were a significant monetary contribution at that time for my college education.”

Three years prior, his sister, Susan, also received a Farm Bureau scholarship to aid in her college studies at NIU.

As a college student, David Gilmore received DeKalb County Farm Bureau’s Scholarship to help with education expenses, 1985-87.

The Gilmores are highly connected to the Farm Bureau organization. Previously David’s father, Robert, Jr, served on the county Farm Bureau Board and his mother, Ann, was a volunteer on the Women’s Committee. His sister also has served on Farm Bureau’s Ag Literacy Committee and participated in the Ag in the Classroom program as a second grade teacher at Indian Creek Elementary. All of the Gilmores are members of Farm Bureau.

The family also supports the DeKalb County Farm Bureau Foundation as they pay it forward for other students to benefit from scholarships.

The Gilmores all earned bachelor’s degrees from the University of Illinois, shown here at Caitlin’s graduation in 2022. They are: (from left) Kyle, Lori, Caitlin and David.

David earned his bachelor’s degree from the U of I in 1989 with honors of being named to the Senior 100 and a finalist for the top ag college student in his class. He was involved in several campus organizations and held leadership roles in FarmHouse fraternity.

His campus leadership was mirrored by his college sweetheart Lori Aden who led various clubs and organizations and earned similar top honors. She also served as the State FFA Secretary-Treasurer before attending Illinois, had a comparable farm background, and received a Farm Bureau scholarship (from Champaign County).

Displaced farm kids maintain agriculture connection

Shortly after Lori graduated with an agricultural communications degree, the two were married and they moved to Nebraska for David’s career with John Deere. For the next 20 years their family moved 12 times to seven different states with David’s job changes.

Lori is supportive of her husband’s successful career path based on his passion for working in the agricultural industry. She says both of them are “displaced farm kids” who still appreciate their connection to farming.

David and Lori Gilmore are paying it forward by giving to the DeKalb County Farm Bureau Foundation in support of scholarships for college students. Both of them benefitted by receiving Farm Bureau scholarships in the past.

“David has had many opportunities which were set up for his success,” said Lori. “He loves working with Deere dealers and customers.”

The Gilmores reside in Geneseo, located about 20 miles from David’s office in Moline. Their adult children, Kyle and Caitlin, both graduated from the University of Illinois and are employed with finance and accounting firms.

While a resident of Henry County, David maintains a sense of pride of being from DeKalb County based on the rich agricultural tradition and history of the county.

“As I travel in many places around the country and the world, when I mention having my agricultural foundation set in DeKalb County, there is an understanding from others about the strong ag legacy of the county,” he stated. “It makes me proud.”