honoree2018 FESTIVAL HONOREE | KENNETH RODRIGUE

Kenneth Rodrigue was born on GOLDMINE PLANTATION in Edgard, Louisiana. Goldmine was a diversified agricultural operation consisting of sugar cane, corn, soybeans, cattle, hogs, sheep, and horses. This environment afforded him a vast experience in general agriculture while growing up.

In 1962, Ken received a Bachelor of Science degree from Louisiana State University in AGRICULTURAL MECHANIZATION. This curriculum had many AG Business and AG Engineering courses, besides general agricultural subjects. After graduation, Ken joined the RESEARCH Department of Thomson Machinery, an international sugar cane machinery manufacturer located in Thibodaux. This position soon sent him to the Florida sugar cane region, where later he and a group of associates started a mechanized cane harvesting company using 13 Thomson Harvesters. This was a first in the state of Florida.


By 1965, Ken had joined the founding group of CAMECO INDUSTRIES, which is now JOHN DEERE THIBODAUX. In the 38 years at CAMECO, Ken made a career of delivering 1st Class service to clients all around the world, especially those in the sugar industry. He held positions as Salesman, Service Manager, Production Manager, Vice President of Engineering & Production, and Executive Vice President. From 1999 to 2003, he served as President of the CAMECO–JOHN DEERE FACTORY. This factory is the world leader in sugar cane machinery manufacturing and innovations. Several U.S. PATENTS have his name on the list of inventors. Some of these are the Rotary Piler, the forerunner over all of the mechanical pilers used on grab loaders, and the Box Topper, from which came the popular Shredder Topper used on all Wholestick Harvesters in Louisiana. The Boom and Grapple Basket Cane Loader for developing countries and the Chain Net Hydro Unloader used in most all sugar mills in Louisiana and around the world were two other popular patents. The Automatic Base Cutter Height Control on Wholestick Harvesters also gained commercial use. These are just a few of the many innovations that helped improve and ease many of the tasks required to produce, harvest, and process sugar cane. Ken played a vital role utilizing hydraulic components to replace many mechanical components, which improved reliability on harvesters and loaders and is still used on our sugar cane farms today. This includes the early developments of our current Chopper Harvesters and the Self Unloading Cane Wagon systems.


Ken’s community service includes memberships in the Thibodaux Chamber of Commerce, the Rotary Club, the Bayou Industrial Group, St. Joseph Elementary School Board, E. D. White High School Board, and President of the E D White Cardinal Club for Athletics. His many honors include: LSU OUTSTANDING ALUMNI, COLLEGE of AGRICUTURE 2000 GRAND MARSHAL, THIBODAUX VOLUNTEER FIREMAN FAIR 2002, AGRICULTURAL OUTSTANDING SERVICE AWARD, ST. JAMES PARISH 2005, LSU DISTINGUISHED ALUMNI AWARD, DEPARTMENT OF BIOLOGICAL AND AGRICULTURAL ENGINEERIN 2010, LAFOURCHE PARISH SUGAR CANE FIELD DAY OUTSTANDING SERVICE AWARD 2015, MEMBER OF THE LAFOURCHE SUGARS BOARD OF DIRECTORS 2017.


Always one to remain busy, Ken’s retirement days after Cameco-John Deere did not last very long. By 2004 he was elected President of Sunshine Equipment Company and continues in that role today with 16 thriving retail dealerships. In 2011 he formed OFFSHORE TECHNICAL SOLUTIONS LLC, a company that aids in the removal of abandoned oil well structures in the Gulf of Mexico. Very High pressure water with abrasives is used to cut down and disassemble these structures. In 2013 he was elected President of Goldmine Plantation. Ken is also currently a shareholder and officer in five different Louisiana sugar cane producing companies which represent over 5,000 acres of sugar cane.


Ken enjoys a full personal life as well. His hobbies include collecting antique John Deere tractors and riding off-road with family and friends. He has been married to Wanda Rougeau Rodrigue for the past 57 years. Wanda is the daughter of a lifetime employee of a Louisiana raw sugar factory. They have five children and eleven grandchildren. Ken’s love of agriculture has been passed down. Two of the sons are employed at John Deere Thibodaux, working in agricultural equipment design and manufacturing.