Caterpillar, Inc. truly does have a long and interesting history. The company originated in the late 1800s when Daniel Best and Benjamin Holt began to experiment with steam tractors typically used for farming. These types of large steam-powered tractors had been plowing California fields for many years, and they often would get bogged down in the soft soil, especially after periods of heavy rain. Once stuck in the mire, these steam powered tractors were extremely difficult to pull free, even with teams of horses – and this started to become a very large problem for farmers in the area.
One of the most popular solutions employed to alleviate this problem was to lay a temporary plank road ahead of the steam tractor. This was, however, extremely time-consuming and expensive, so farmers began looking for a better idea. Holt came up with the idea to combine the road with the tractor itself. On November 24, 1904 Benjamin Holt came up with the idea to add wooden treads around the idlers of the Holt No 77 – his test tractor. The results were phenomenal – thus, the modern tractor was born.
In 1909, Benjamin Holt bought an abandoned tractor manufacturing plant in East Peoria, Illinois. The operations in Holt’s new manufacturing plant immediately took off, and by 1911 the factory employed over 600 people. The Holt Manufacturing Company soon began exporting tractors to South American, Mexico and Canada in addition to their already exorbitant domestic sales. The company’s crawler tractors inspired the first ever military tanks – which most notably helped to end World War I.
Caterpillar officially formed on April 15, 1925 with the merger of Holt Manufacturing Company and C. L. Best Gas Traction Company. In the first year alone, sales for the newly formed Caterpillar Tractor Co. were just over $13 million. By 1929, sales had skyrocketed to over $52 million, and the Caterpillar Tractor Company continued its rapid expansion throughout the 1930s.
Capterpillar, Inc. has come along way since their humble beginnings as a small tractor manufacturer. The Caterpillar Company’s product line now includes such products as work boots, work gloves, and other jobsite apparel in addition to their traditional jobsite machinery product line.
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