Robert J. Ratliff turned a struggling $200-million farm equipment business into a major, global manufacturer of some of the most innovative and productive agricultural equipment. With a vision to provide a world of solutions for growing needs of the farm industry worldwide, between 1990 and 2005 Ratliff brought more than 20 agricultural machinery companies under the AGCO umbrella. Today, the company, headquartered in Duluth, Georgia, sells its products in more than 140 countries.
Under Ratliff's leadership, the company blended various business practices and cultures. He created an atmosphere that motivated employees to achieve a mutually desirable goal - the vision of multiple brands operating under the AGCO umbrella. Employees recount it was not uncommon for Bob to visit departments, chatting with employees and making it known he was interested in them and their work. His hands-on leadership style extended to company dealers. Recognizing their strategic importance, Ratliff institutionalized the practice of soliciting feedback, and that senior management was only a phone call away.
Ratliff has given back to the industry: he is a Life Honorary Director of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) and he fulfilled numerous leadership roles for the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), including chair of NAM's Manufacturing Institute, which focuses on manufacturing revival and education.
To advance education, the Robert J. Ratliff Baltimore Polytechnic Institute Incentive Awards Fund was established to fund annual student scholarships through the University of Maryland Incentive Awards Program. Bob is among a select group recognized as program "visionaries."