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Caterpillar History

Caterpillar History

Caterpillar: A Long and Storied History of Heavy Equipment Innovation

Cleveland Brothers is proud of its long and successful relationship with Caterpillar, the worldwide leader in heavy industrial equipment manufacturing headquartered in Peoria, Illinois. Since opening our first Caterpillar dealership in Central Pennsylvania in 1948, we’ve proudly carried on the Caterpillar tradition of excellence and service. It’s a tradition that dates back more than 85 years to Caterpillar’s inception in 1925.

The Caterpillar History Begins with the Name

While the Caterpillar Tractor Company was originally formed in 1925 as the result of a merger between the Holt Manufacturing Company and C. L. Best Tractor Company, the Caterpillar name originated years earlier. In the early 1900s, seeking for a way to improve the mobility and traction of his company’s steam tractors, Benjamin Holt replaced the wheels with wooden tracks bolted to chains. The innovation worked so well that one bystander was said to have remarked that the machine crawled along much like a caterpillar. Holt agreed, and dubbed his new machine “Caterpillar,” a name he eventually trademarked in 1910. In 1986 Caterpillar officially changed the company name from Caterpillar Tractor Company to Caterpillar, Inc.

The Early Caterpillar History is Filled with Achievement

While Benjamin Holt was instrumental in the development of the industrial tractor well before the official launch of Caterpillar, a series of noteworthy accomplishments continued to occur after the formation of the new company in 1925. In the 1930s, for instance, Caterpillar machines played a significant role in the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Grand Coulee Dam, and the Mississippi Levee construction project. Caterpillar heavy equipment supported U.S. military efforts during World War II, and the company was able to ramp up its stateside production to manufacture more than 51,000 track-type military tractors.

International Expansion in the 1950s

Caterpillar history includes expansion into a variety of foreign markets following the war. In the early 1950s CAT machines helped to build a 10.5 mile superhighway that greatly facilitated transportation through the Andes Mountains in Venezuela. In 1953 the Indian government purchased 93 CAT machines to aid in the country’s road development projects. CAT machines also contributed to the completion of event sites for the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. CAT even supplied equipment for use in the most environmentally challenging locations in the world, as evidenced by the use of CAT machines by the U.S. military during Operation Deep Freeze III in Antarctica in the latter part of the decade.

Continued Growth through Acquisition

In addition to improving and increasing its manufacturing efforts over the years, Caterpillar history is highlighted by a process of growth through a series of acquisitions. In 1965 CAT expanded its forklift line through the acquisition of the Mentor, Ohio-based Towmotor Corporation. In 1981 CAT made a foray into the world of industrial gas turbines by acquiring the solar and turbomach divisions of International Harvester Company. Significant international acquisitions include Perkins Limited, a United Kingdom manufacturer of small diesel engines in 1998, and MWM Holding GmbH, a German producer of gas and diesel powered generator sets in 2010.

A Thriving Partnership with an Eye on the Future

Today, Caterpillar continues as the leading manufacturer of heavy industrial equipment in the world. Always seeking ways to increase its footprint and provide even more services to its customer base, the company has also entered into new arenas, such as the sale of financial products and insurance. Cleveland Brothers is looking forward to continuing its strong and enduring partnership with a worldwide leader well into the future, as well as delivering a wide range of quality CAT machines and equipment to our customers for years to come.