Holt - 55
Vista, CA - Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum - The Holt Manufacturing Company traces its roots to the 1883 founding of Stockton Wheel Service in Stockton, California, United States. Benjamin Holt, who was later credited with patenting the first workable crawler tractor design, incorporated the Holt Manufacturing Company in 1892. Holt Manufacturing Company was the first company to successfully manufacture a continuous track tractor. By the start of the 20th century, Holt Manufacturing Company was the leading manufacturer of combine harvesters in the United States and the leading California-based manufacturer of steam traction engines. Holt Manufacturing Company operated from its base in Stockton, California, until opening a satellite facility in Walla Walla, Washington, to serve the Pacific Northwest. In 1909, Holt Manufacturing Company expanded by purchasing the facility of defunct farm implement maker Colean Manufacturing Company in East Peoria, Illinois. Holt changed the name of the company to Holt Caterpillar Company, although he did not trademark the name Caterpillar until 1910. The company's initial products focused on agricultural machinery and were distributed internationally. During World War I, almost all of its production capacity was dedicated to military needs. Its tractors were widely used by the Allies in place of horses to haul heavy artillery and tow supply trains. Holt tractors also played a part, to varying degrees, in the development of military tanks in Great Britain, France, and Germany. Holt's equipment was credited with helping the Allies to win the war, and its tractor was regarded by Colonel Ernest Dunlop Swinton as "one of the most important military vehicles of all time." As the war ended, the Holt company was left with huge surplus inventories of heavy-duty tractors ill-suited for the agricultural market, which had been dominated during the war by the Holt Company's primary competitor, C. L. Best. The company decided to focus instead on heavy construction equipment and sought to capitalize on the passage of the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1921. Laden with debt and needing more capital to switch its product line, the company struggled to move forward. Both the Holt Manufacturing Company and C. L. Best were hurt by the depression of 1920–21 which further inhibited sales. Both companies streamlined their over-lapping product lines. The two companies had spent about US$1.5 million (about $20,484,820 today) in legal fees fighting each other in various contractual, trademark and patent infringement lawsuits since 1905, but, on the advice of investors, the two companies merged in 1925 to form the Caterpillar Tractor Co. As of 2010, Caterpillar Inc. was the 229th largest company in the world. [Wiki]
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