History Of Caterpillar (CAT) Inc.
Caterpillar Incorporated is coming out of its 2011 year with revenue and sales reaching over sixty
billion dollars. All around the world people see the iconic yellow â€œCATâ€ symbol as the companies
machinery moves earth with powerful tractors and trucks, powers buildings and machinery with
rumbling engines and generators, and helps to drive construction or deconstruction in virtually any
location. The company has a history of ups and downs as it dealt with leadership transitions, wartime,
peacetime, and discovering a market.
The Early Years
Caterpillar Inc. Was founded by Benjamin Holt who sought to address a problem. The early
mechanical tractors of the 1890s and early 1900s were extremely heavy when compared to their
horsepower output. This meant that they would sink in the soft soil that most agricultural work
required. Holt envisioned a machine that would be heavy enough to move large amounts of earth, but
designed to distribute the weight efficiently enough to stay on top of the soil.
At first Holt experimented with incredibly large machines that had wheels over six feet wide, and the
entire machine being over 46 feet wide. This led to increasingly complex machines that were difficult
maintain and were prone to failure. Holt had a breakthrough in 1904 when he replaced the traditional
wheels on a tractor and replaced them with a series of wooden planks, which would eventually give
rise to the metal tracks we see on CAT tractors today.
World War I Boom and the Post-war Bubble
Not long after Caterpillar Inc. was founded, the world was plunged into war with WWI. The war time
economy in America saw a huge boost as manufacturers attempted to satisfy the war efforts needs
and CAT Inc. Was no exception. Thousands of Holtâ€™s tractors were shipped to Europe where they
worked as ammunition and arms transportation, and it is suspected that the continuous track design
on the CAT tractors gave inspiration to the first tanks used in WWI.
After the war CAT Inc. Saw a drop in sales and the company struggled. This happened for a few
reasons. In the years after the war many of the tractors were shipped back to the United States which
flooded the market and made new tractors difficult to sell. The plant was also geared towards pushing
out wartime machines and transitioning to agricultural machinery was slow and difficult process for
the relatively young company.
The Bounce Back
Due to an increasing number of debts to banks, a new owner was strong armed into leading to
company rather than Holt. While not an engineering mind, the business sense proved successful and
CAT Inc. Was able to adapt to the continuously and rapidly changing market. Production aimed at
smaller machinery for agricultural use, but as highway development began a new branch opened to
supply large machinery. Now CAT has its fingers almost everywhere with the bright yellow paint being
moving earth and powering machinery with generators all over the world. We can expect CAT to be
around for a long, long while.