Every month a variety of publications
end up in my mailbox, and I usually make a point of looking through
all of them. The amount of information contained in farm magazines
and newspapers is incredible. When you read through one of
them—especially ours (I’m bragging here)—you get to learn in a
few minutes what it has taken writers and editors hours, days or
weeks to find out.
But occasionally I come across
shouldn’t be surprising, writers make mistakes like anybody else.
Last week I noticed just such an error. A couple of paragraphs about
machinery brands in an article on why Canadian ag equipment
manufacturers have been successful around the world were completely
out in left field.
Many farm machinery manufacturers,
particularly the major brands, have undergone some significant
changes at the corporate level over the last few decades, so it’s
easy to fall behind on what’s really going on. The writer who created
the article clearly hadn’t done his research.
Among the many incorrect statements
that caught my attention was a reference to CNH (the parent company
of Case IH and New Holland) as a “clearly American” company. In
fact, the company’s proper name is CNH Global, and it’s corporate
seat is in Holland. It’s a majority-owned subsidiary of Fiat
The article went on to mention a
“Coyote” equipment brand from China as an emerging player in
dry-land farming. Well, it’s pronounced Coyote, but it’s spelled
Kioti; and it’s from South Korea, not China. It’s also had a North
American presence since 1986, building utility and compact utility
tractors that really only appeal to acreage owners. So, is it an
emerging name in dry-land farming? I don’t think so.
Then the article mentioned “secondary
players”, Caterpillar and AGCO, which it identified as an Italian
firm. AGCO’s world headquarters are in Duluth, Georgia, not Italy. It
had net sales of US $8.8 billion in 2011, making it the third-largest
global ag equipment manufacturer. That’s pretty big to be called
And what about Cat? It isn’t even in
the ag machinery business! That is a persistant misconception that
past few months that also made a reference to Cat as an ag equipment
manufacturer. So let’s take a minute to clear that up right now.
In 1986, partly as a result of an R&D
program designed to give its Special Applications crawlers broader
appeal to farmers, Cat introduced the rubber-belted Challenger
tractors; but in 2002 it sold the Challenger brand to AGCO.
In another ag-related deal, Cat had
entered into a joint marketing venture with Germany-based Claas to
introduce that company’s Lexion line of combines to North America,
but that agreement has long since expired. And Cat is no longer a
whole-goods supplier of ag equipment of any kind. And by all
indications it has no plans to ever become one again.
Yes, you will still find
Challenger-branded equipment and Lexion combines on some Cat dealers’
lots, but they are retailing those products for AGCO and Claas, not
Cat. It’s the same concept as John Deere dealers also selling
Bourgault or Seed Hawk products.
Incidentally, I had the opportunity a
few weeks ago to interview Glen Barton, the former CEO of
Caterpillar. It was fascinating to get a little bit of an inside
perspective on the rationale behind his decision to shed the
Challenger from Cat’s product line.
So please, spread the word. Lets have
no more talk about Cat being in the ag equipment business.