JACKSON - There was a field of pink inside the AGCO Jackson facility Thursday morning, from company executives to the men and women working on the assembly line.
The specially colored attire was in celebration of Tenacity, the new - and pretty-in-pink - tractor that rolled off the assembly line at the Challenger and Massey Ferguson production facility.
Created in a partnership between AGCO and Ziegler, which donated the MT865E tractor, the tractor will be used to promote breast cancer awareness. In addition, a limited number of 1:32 scale models of Tenacity will arrive next week and be offered for sale. Net proceeds from the 500 limited edition tractors, hand-painted in Germany, will go to the Susan G. Komen Foundation for cancer research.
The idea for the pink tractor was offered by the tractor team at AGCO Jackson in October 2013, and AGCO Jackson Director of Operations Eric Fisher said the idea took root from there.
“At any single time we have dozens and dozens and dozens of projects going on in this facility, and you might find it surprising, but in all honesty, this is probably one of the most challenging projects that we’ve had this year,” Fisher said during Thursday’s celebration at AGCO. “The seed was planted, the group continued to water it - they maybe even got a little fertilizer thrown their way - but they got it done. They got the momentum going.”
Fisher said a project like this would normally take four to six months to complete, but employees at AGCO completed the pink tractor in just six weeks. He credited Ziegler for stepping up to support the project, and the employees behind the scenes who pulled it off. He particularly noted the members of AGWN (AGCO Global Women’s Network).
“They used their network, their influence and their leadership to make sure this all came together and got done,” Fisher said. “It was a tremendous amount of work by the entire North American AGWN team.”
Following a “tough, daunting, incredible timeline,” Fisher said there were a lot of challenges in making everything come together.
“It’s tough, right? Naw, it ain’t tough. It’s important. It’s fun to do a project like this,” he said. “What’s tough is people who deal with cancer. That’s what tough is, and that’s why it’s so important to do this.”
The coat of pink on the Ziegler MT865E Challenger just made sense.
“How fitting is it to have the biggest, strongest, toughest tractor out there decked out in pink?” Fisher asked. “What better way to bring awareness to something that has touched everyone of us. … That’s why this is so important, so that we can bring awareness and support - especially right now as we enter October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It’s the perfect tractor at the perfect time for the perfect cause.”
Peggy Gulick, director of AGCO Production Systems and Information Technology, took the lead in getting the idea of the “testosterone in pink” tractor from concept to reality.
“What we learned through this project is everybody has a story,” Gulick said, adding that her sister-in-law is currently in her second bout with cancer.
The people of AGCO also learned that nothing is impossible.
“For those that know how long it takes to plan, purchase, transport materials, receive, kit, assemble, inspect and apply the seal of approval, you know that it’s impossible to make a tractor in six weeks,” Gulick said. “We’ve proved that’s not true.
“With the right team, the right energy, the right contributions, the right partners … anything can be done and nothing is impossible,” she added. “We want to make the same true for cancer patients and their families fighting the disease through the research via awareness and contributions.”
As part of Thursday’s celebration, Carol Seaman of Spencer, Iowa, was invited to ride along as Tenacity was driven off the assembly line. Seaman was diagnosed with HER2 breast cancer in June and is in the early stages of a two-year treatment regimen.
Seaman grew up helping her dad on the farm and now works alongside her husband, Lee, in their farming operation. With her family and friends as her support system, she said, “Praise the Lord for all of the prayers that are going up for me.”
Prior to five years ago, Seaman said patients receiving the same diagnosis she has were basically told it was a death sentence - there was no hope. After the launch of a new drug, people like Seaman have a fighting chance.
“I always tell everyone, ‘When I was born, God said you have a 100 percent chance of dying. Now, with us silly humans, I only have an 80 percent chance of dying.’ I get to live a little longer …”
Lara Long, vice president of corporate accounting and reporting for AGCO’s Duluth, Ga., facility, spoke about the AGWN network, which is dedicated to training, developing and sponsoring women as promoters and growers of profitability. At the same time, AGWN supports and contributes toward the health and wellbeing of its female workforce.
“Given the unique set of health challenges our gender faces, we are proud to support the research and cure efforts of the Susan G. Komen Foundation to combat and hopefully one day expel a disease that impacts approximately 1 in 8 women in the United States,” Long said.
The 1:32 scale model tractors will be available for purchase next week at the AGCO Intivity Center in Jackson, as well as online. In addition, they will be available later this month at the Women In Manufacturing annual conference, the Women in Agriculture Summit and the Oil and Grain Seeds Summit, all in Minneapolis. Tenacity will be on display on the Nicollet Mall during the two summits.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who was unable to attend Thursday’s celebration, offered her thanks to AGCO and Ziegler for their dedication to the fight against breast cancer.
“I would like to take the opportunity to recognize all of you here today as you continue to raise awareness and give support to those fighting this devastating disease,” Klobuchar said in a letter to the company. “AGCO has emerged as a leader in supporting women in the manufacturing industry and women in all sectors of agriculture. Your partnership with Susan G. Komen on events like this one gives me hope that one day we will win the fight against breast cancer.”