With family and friends in attendance, MacDon founder Joseph Andrew MacDonald (1924–1991) was inducted posthumously into the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) Hall of Fame, November 4th, 2015. The honor was part of AEM’s Annual Conference in Miami, Florida, and is reserved for pioneering individuals who “collectively represent some of the best, brightest and most influential minds in the history of the off-road equipment industry. ” To date only 55 people in the world have been inducted.
Recognized during the evening as “a quiet, yet forceful leader with a brilliant mind for sales and marketing,” Joe’s career in the farm implements business began in 1947 when he became a parts clerk with the Cockshutt dealership in Truro, Nova Scotia. His advancement at Cockshutt came swiftly, often taking him to locations across Canada and, eventually to Cockshutt’s head office in Brantford, Ontario, where in 1957 he became the company’s Canadian Sales Manager. When Cockshutt was purchased by White Motor Corp. in 1962, Joe became White’s Vice President of Marketing for the Canadian Division. At White Joe continued to distinguish himself, eventually becoming Vice President and Director of Marketing in 1969, and President of its Canadian Division the following year.
In 1971 Joe was enticed to Winnipeg by his friend Tom Killbery to help revive his family’s swather manufacturing business. Later that year Joe would buy the company of approximately 45 employees and rename it MacDon. Thanks to a dramatic resurgence in grain prices, but also Joe’s business acumen and industry contacts, the fortunes of MacDon rebounded over the next several years to the point that in 1976 it had moved into a new plant and was now employing close to 350 employees. Under Joe’s leadership the company was able to build a thriving OEM business supplying companies like White, Case, International Harvester, Massey Ferguson, New Holland and John Deere. By 1980 MacDon was the largest producer of self-propelled and pull-type grain swathers in the world, and the company was beginning to diversify into hay and specialty header products. Over the next decade Joe would continue to contribute his quiet, insightful leadership towards the continued advancement of MacDon, all while transitioning himself out of the business to leave it in the hands of his sons Allan, Gary, John and Scott.
Throughout his career, Joe was a strong champion of the farm equipment industry. He was not only an active member of the Farm and Industrial Equipment Institute in the U.S., he would eventually help found the Canadian chapter of FIEI where he served as its President and Chairman of the Board. He was also a strong proponent of 4-H and its role in preparing future generations of farmers, serving on the board of 4-H Canada. Outside of work, Joe was a tireless and giving member of his community performing responsibilities ranging from a board position with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (Canadian Football League) to tying a child’s skates at a local rink, always giving everyone and everything he came in contact with his undivided attention.
“Joe MacDonald exemplified the best qualities of an honest businessman, a loving father and sincere friend to many. His contributions to the agricultural industry were far reaching and helped develop the level of excellence and reliability we identify with our current products and their productivity. His efforts for his company and the sharing of his intellect with others have left their mark on our past and encouraged setting higher goals for our future.”
- Robert J. Ratcliff, Founder and CEO of AGCO Corporation (retired).
“Perhaps Joe MacDonald’s most important contribution is the legacy he left through his children - leaders in the agriculture industry in their own right who continue in their father’s footsteps. His impact on the industry continues to this day and this honor would be a fitting tribute to a man who gave so much to the industry and to others.”
- Charlie Stamp, Vice President, Public Affairs Worldwide John Deere