AGCO founder Robert J. Ratliff dies

by Holly Demaree
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obert J Ratliff_founder_former president chairman and CEO of AGCO
Ratliff guided the company through a total of 21 acquisitions as it grew.
Photo courtesy of AGCO.
 
DULUTH, GEORGIA, U.S. — Robert J. Ratliff, founder and former president, chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of AGCO Corp., passed away on April 20. He was 85 years old.

“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,” said Martin Richenhagen, chairman, president and CEO of AGCO. “The board of directors, management team, and our employees worldwide are very grateful for his vision, leadership and dedicated service. He will be greatly missed, and our thoughts are with his wife Gini and his entire family.”

Ratliff guided the growth of AGCO from a small North American company into one of the world’s largest manufacturers of agricultural equipment. Through his entrepreneurial spirit, Ratliff led the management team that purchased Deutz-Allis Corp. in 1990 as part of the formation of AGCO.

Under Ratliff’s leadership, AGCO acquired many well-known equipment brands in the industry. In 1994, AGCO purchased the worldwide holdings of Massey Ferguson, a perennial leader in global tractor sales. In 1997, AGCO purchased Fendt, recognized as the leading technology innovator in the industry. In 2002, Ratliff led the acquisition of the Caterpillar agricultural track tractor business and the Challenger brand. In 2004, AGCO completed the purchase of Valtra, further strengthening AGCO’s leadership position in Europe and South America.

His approach to leadership was hands-on, with strong support for employees, their interests and goals, the company said. This also extended to the dealer network, soliciting feedback as a regular practice and encouraging frequent contact and engagement with senior management that today is part of AGCO’s culture.

Ratliff guided the company through a total of 21 acquisitions as it grew sales from $200 million in 1990 to over $5.4 billion in 2005 and retired as chairman in 2006. Today, AGCO, headquartered in Duluth, Georgia, U.S., sells its products in more than 150 countries. A 2014 inductee to the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) Hall of Fame, Ratliff made a significant impact on the global industry leaving a legacy with the businesses he built and the people he developed and supported.

A Celebration of Life service for Ratliff will be held at the Atlanta Athletic Club, Johns Creek, Georgia, U.S., on May 20, 2017.
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