(Photo by Tudor Hampton for ENR)

For equipment enthusiasts who think they know everything about the 168-year-old machinery manufacturer in Moline, Ill., a book published this year about Deere & Co.’s core business principles contains several surprises.

Without a doubt, the heavy equipment company and its 46,000 employees are masters at building brands. But the memorable tagline "Nothing Runs Like A Deere" was almost trashed during a marketing session for John Deere’s new line of snowmobiles in 1971. The slogan outlived the snowmobile line, and today it applies to all Deere equipment, including its familiar yellow construction machines.

Deere attributes much of its staying power to a short line of chief executives and their fair-play corporate attitudes. Since inventor John Deere founded the company in 1837, only eight people have sat in the CEO’s chair.

Describing Bob Lane, Deere’s top leader since 2000, author David Magee says Lane "does not believe one person should be viewed as more important than others." In the 234-page book, The John Deere Way (Wiley, $24.95), Magee says Lane’s top contribution is a focus on making Deere a more Wall Street friendly stock, which motivated the company to adopt lean manufacturing and deliver construction machines faster.

A clear, quick study, the essay occasionally disappoints with sugary superlatives and a few typographical errors.