was going to guarantee the loans and [pay or sell them] off if need be,” Edwards adds.
Not only did he have financial backing, Edwards had experience. He was the first African American territory manager in the company’s agricultural group, the first and only African American service manager, and the first and only African American division sales manager. In the golf and turf group, he was the first and only African American business manager, as well as the first and only African American director of sales and marketing worldwide. In 1997, Edwards negotiated a 14-year, $70 million contract between John Deere and the PGA. He was recognized by Golf Inc. magazine as one of the industry’s “21 Most Dynamic Movers and Shakers.”
Edwards’ lawsuit also challenges John Deere to maintain diversity on its board, to increase diversity in upper and middle management, and to improve the number of black-owned dealerships and agencies.