It was probably the fastest decision Sérgio de Bona ever made.
As soon as his wife, Carla, told him she was pregnant in 2005, he replied without blinking, “I know what the baby’s going to be named: John Deere.”
His wife was a little confused “John Deere?” she asked. “Where did you get that idea?”
As he began formulating a response, his mind flooded with memories. Sérgio wasn’t sure where to begin. He thought back to getting his driver’s license at age 18 in his hometown of Farroupilha, a city of 70,000 residents in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul. His license was his ticket to becoming a truck driver.
As a truck driver, Sérgio made deliveries to supermarkets and cooperatives in the city of Horizontina. The highway was his companion, and he carefully observed the landscape wherever he traveled. To access the highway that led to the neighboring city of Crissiumal, his truck passed by a place that astonished him.
It was a very large and modern-looking factory, and he was impressed by the large and powerful-looking tractors and combines displayed in front. He also noted a sign with big letters that bore the company’s name: John Deere. The name had a fullness to it and sounded very beautiful to Sérgio. It was the name he wanted for his son.
Carla listened intently to her husband’s story, and she began to understand why the name was meaningful to him. In the days that followed, she toyed with the name and eventually agreed to it. But things turned out differently. The baby was born a girl, and they called her Érica.
Sérgio’s admiration for the name, however, remained steadfast. Every time he passed by the front of the factory in Horizontina, his desire to name a future son John Deere grew stronger, despite never setting foot inside the factory. He even tried to convince his sister-in-law, who got pregnant soon after his wife, to use the name. But, alas, her baby was also a girl.
A Second Chance
In 2012 Carla was once again expecting a baby. It was a difficult pregnancy plagued by complications. Carla, a religious person, clung to her faith, at one point, fighting both for her and her child’s lives.
She came through this difficult trial and gave birth to a beautiful baby. The boy was named as his father had dreamed. But he also received the name of an apostle, in gratitude for the grace that had been shown. The child was called Matheus (Matthew) John Deere.
People were curious and would ask Sérgio and Carla, “Why did you give your son the name of a tractor?” Sérgio would explain, “It’s not only a tractor; it’s a company.”
“But isn’t it the same as a tractor?” said curious friends and colleagues. So Sérgio would tell the whole story behind the name. He found it amusing and wasn’t bothered repeating it. At long last, he finally had a healthy, beautiful baby boy.
Today, Sérgio and Carla live in São Sebastião do Caí (RS), and he now works in a meat packing plant. In the year following the birth of their son, the young family would have another surprise.
An Unexpected Invitation
As luck would have it, one of Sérgio’s co-workers is married to an employee from the John Deere factory in Montenegro, Brazil. When the co-worker heard about the boy, she told her husband, who told a co-worker who, in turn, told another. One day Sérgio’s cell phone rang. It was a representative from the Human Resources department of Montenegro with an unexpected invitation.
Each year John Deere factories in Brazil welcome friends and relatives of John Deere employees to visit. These “Open Door” events are highly anticipated because they offer communities an inside glimpse of the company. Visitors see the production lines and how the factory operates.
In 2018, Open Door received an illustrious guest. Little six-year-old Matheus John Deere was invited to visit the John Deere factory in Montenegro. Word about the boy spread across the factory, and by the time he arrived, he was already a celebrity.
Paulo Rohde, manager of the Montenegro factory, was there to welcome the boy and his family with open arms.
Across the factory you could hear people murmuring, “Here comes John Deere!”
Sérgio gained a new perspective on the company that he’d only admired from the outside. He saw the innerworkings and met the people who ran the factory. Most special, however, was that he was accompanied by his son named John Deere. For the father, it was a dream come true.
To top it off, the boy was presented with his first John Deere, a toy riding tractor. Now, according to his parents, young Matheus John Deere understands the significance of his name.