After earning marketing and economics degrees at Oklahoma State Univ., Charlie Gause wanted nothing to do with agriculture even though his father was a John Deere dealer for a time. “I grew up in the 50s when it was extremely dry. I never wanted to be involved in anything that depended on the weather,” he says.
But he became smitten with Deere’s iconic green and yellow colors and ended up working his entire career with the company, first as a territory manager until his retirement in 2002 as vice president of marketing.
After his father sold out of the Frederick, Okla., dealership, he became involved in farming, ranching and equipment auctions. “I spent my youth either around a dealership or farming,” says Gause. “I used to say, ‘If you really like dirt, grass and grease, this is the right business.’”
Gause had good reason to avoid a career weather-dependent agriculture. His father was a territory manager for Deere starting in 1926 and in 1932 became part owner of what was a John Deere company store. Then the Dust Bowl of the 1930s took much of the farmland in Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Colorado and Nebraska with it. “Most dealers and farmers in those areas went broke,” Gause says.
Despite his desire to put some distance between himself and farming, as he neared graduation, Deere offered him a job.
“I had several other offers with other companies, but my dad had worked for John Deere and I guess I had it in my blood. I started looking at that farm equipment business and the romance, the history, the tradition. It was kind of like walking out in a fresh-plowed field and smelling the aroma of fresh dirt. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about green and yellow,” Gause says.
“I think our dealers felt the same way and that’s the difference in our dealers and others. It’s the passion we feel. People who have the passion attract others with that same passion. I believe that’s what made the difference, I really do. It might sound kind of goofy, but…”