Remembering Robert Ratliff

AGCO Ratliff

AGCO’s Robert J. Ratliff

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With all the fast-paced happenings in agriculture this spring, with multiple mergers in the works and planting season in full swing, it’s easy to overlook some newsworthy events. One of these took place late in April with the passing of Robert J. Ratliff, former President, Chairman, and CEO for AGCO Corp.

To say that Ratlliff had a lasting impact on the industry and AGCO would be a gross understatement. When he joined the company in 1990 as part of a management team that purchased Deutz-Allis Corp., AGCO’s annual sales were in the $200 million range. By the time he retired from the business in 2006, overseeing 21 brand/company acquisitions in the process, AGCO’s annual sales had ballooned to more than $5.4 billion. Among the major acquisitions the company engineered during his tenure were Massey Ferguson in 1994, Spra-Coupe in 1998, Ag-Chem in 2001, and Challenger tractors in 2002.

“We’ve set out to create a multi-brand business, but it’s really not unusual,” Ratliff told CropLife magazine during an interview in early 2002. “We’re establishing a General Motors model in an industry where it hasn’t existed before.”

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In a press release detailing his life, current AGCO Chairman, President, and CEO Martin Richenhagen had this to say about Ratliff and his contributions to the company: “Bob Ratliff’s commitment to excellence and complete dedication to AGCO, our customers, dealers, employees, and shareholders helped our company become what it is today. He will be greatly missed.”

Indeed he will. However, the legacy he helped build with AGCO and its brands to the agricultural industry is likely to live on for some time to come . . .