Almost one year ago, my coworkers and I were challenged to come up with A Big Idea that would get people talking.
Half-joking, a coworker said "why don't we see if Chip Foose would customize a tractor?"
We laughed, thinking there would be no way. Still, it never hurts to ask. So we called Foose Designs.
Turns out Chip had been thinking about customizing a tractor for years.
And so the Big Buck was born.
Here it is on the display floor at Waterloo Works, where they build the 7000, 8000 and 9000 Series tractors. The Big Buck is a classic 4020, one of the most popular tractors that John Deere has ever built.
The chairs and camera showing in the bottom of the frame are for a DVD being put together documenting the project.
The guy standing beside the tractor with a great big grin is Harold, the Big Buck's new owner. His name was drawn out of approximately 200,000 entries for the grand prize. Harold is a phenomenally nice guy who didn't quite believe my coworker when he first told him that he'd won.
The Visitor's Sevices team at the Factory helped us set up a ceremony for the event. We'd planned to hold the event in the factory at first, but the attendee list grew to the point it had to be moved outside.
This was my view during the event. It may not look like much, but it was pretty darn exciting to me. We ran a streaming video pilot, and as with all pilots, there were plenty of unforeseen hurdles. Even in a company as organized as Deere, "pilot" is often a nice way of saying "making it up as we go along."
I took this picture just so I could prove that there really was a point during which it really worked.
After the ceremony, Chip signed autographs before taking a tour of the factory. I had to (shudder) turn off my phone for the tour, but I did get to take some pictures of a ride and drive. Chip had a lot of fun in a 9630 Track Machine.
I will admit the 9030s made me feel a bit short…
It was a great day. Chip is an incredibly gracious guy, and he signed autographs until we were worried that he'd miss his flight if he stayed longer. Harold had a great, if slightly overwhelming, time.
I slept like a log that night. Finishing a project like this is a great feeling.
And boy do I love my job.