3 Cool Facts About the History of Construction Equipment Makers

Nearly everyone in America has seen or heard of a John Deere tractor, a Caterpillar final drive travel motor, or a Bobcat. What not everyone knows about is some of the amazing history and facts behind these iconic American brands.

  1. Caterpillar is the most popular worldwide brand of construction equipment. The name actually does come from the little caterpillar that crawls along the ground. The founder of the company was testing tractor movement styles, and the one that stuck reminded a bystander of the way a caterpillar moves. The first tractors became so popular that they were ordered by European farmers, and at the outbreak of World War I the British military discovered that CAT tractors did a much better job of getting through the mud and muck than any military vehicle. They ordered CATs specifically built to pull artillery and transfer men and material to the front. The British military went on to design the tank, basing the tank’s tracks on those found on the Caterpillar.
  2. Bobcat specializes in compact equipment, and particularly the skid-steer loader. Bobcat makes compact excavators, loaders, utility vehicles, and all kinds of attachments. Their skid-steer loaders are so popular that any ski-steer loader is likely to be referred to as a Bobcat, regardless of who actually manufactured it. The original Bobcats from the 1960s were black and red. Only later did they incorporate white and add the tagline that Bobcats are tough enough to wear white.
  3. The most famous tractor brand in the world is John Deere, but John Deere was famous for the steel plow rather than the tractor. John Deere has remained a close-knit company for many years. Since the founding in 1837 they’ve only had nine CEOs. John Deere was out looking for a steel blade at the local sawmill one day when he found it: cracked in half. The shape of the bent blade gave him idea for a new kind of ploy that wouldn’t have to be sstopped and scraped clean all the time. Within five years, John Deere had sold a lot of plows, aquired a business partneer, and opened a factory.

The construction equipment industry in the United States continues to grow every year, and is projected to grow another 12% by 2026. The revenue just from maintaining heavy machinery in 2009 was $29 billion! However big the construction industry grows, though, you can bet that John Deere, Caterpillar, and Bobcat will continue to be leading the pack for years to come.

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