What I like about that truck is it doesn’t look like anybody
else’s truck. It is beefy. It’s Caterpillar-like. The cab is marvelous
inside with a lot of Cat touch and feel to it. I’m very happy. The
customers we’ve shown it to, and dealers, are thrilled. They say
if you make it durable and reliable, they’ll buy it.
What things is Cat doing that you think you have
We’re in the process of a major purchasing area restructuring
and we’re very close. In fact, by the time the magazine comes
out we’ll have that done.
We are looking at the supply chain process similar to what
we’ve done everywhere else. We’ll get that done. And that will
mean a lot of little cost sourcing, that’ll mean low-cost producer
activity. It really is a restructuring of how we think about our sup-
ply chain, partnering with them a lot like our dealer model. There
is no reason that the Japanese supplier model of partnership
can’t work for us today.
We’ve almost reduced our suppliers in half. We’ve got a long
way to go to get that done, but we want to work more closely and
long term with them. Think about that dealer model. There’s no
reason we can’t have that on the supply side, so that’s where
we’re headed with that. That is a major structure and culture
change for this company.
What do you want Cat to look like when you’re
headline made me smile. “Down and
dirty.” I don’t know how complimentary that is, but what I’m try-
ing to do is, I don’t see how any company can lose that’s highly
focused on its customers’ needs.
It’s trite, it’s old fashioned, but it’s absolutely true. I don’t
think a company can lose if you’re worried about what your
customer needs, if you get it done urgently and better than
And you can’t know it if you’re not with them. I had a big un-
comfortable customer meeting in Europe this week and I loved
every minute of it.
My whole life has been around that, in the field for the most
part, and I will tell you the OEM engine business — where you
feel the direct customer heat against your forehead — that’s a
learning experience. And that’s been great.
To me, if we can get our people thinking about what their
customer really is after — what does our customer need in a
980 wheel loader or a motor grader, whatever it is? What do
they really need that we can do better than somebody else —
and we fill that more quickly than anybody else, we win. You
cannot lose with that.
Are there any markets or areas that Caterpillar is
not in that you’d like to be?
QUESTIONS WITH DOUG OBERHELMAN
“Yeah, I’m a little impatient and I’ve been coached over the
years to be more patient in various performance reviews. It’s
hard to give up and I’m not going to give it up now. It is one of
my personality traits that I have to deal with.”
Doug Oberhelman, CEO, Caterpillar Inc.
Part of our strategy thinking was segmenting the industries
that we serve today and looking at how much of those indus-
tries we serve.
If you think about the mining industry, think about everything
that goes in and out of a mine, we are a very small player in the
mining industry. We’re a leader in the products and services
we sell to miners, but in terms of what a miner buys, we are a
small piece of that whole pie.
We did that with marine, we did it with oil and gas, we did
it with mining, we did it with BCP (Building Construction Prod-
ucts), we did it with a lot of our industries. There are unlimited
opportunities around several industries where we are sort of
small players. We are big in terms of the competitors that we
compete with for that piece of the industry.
It leads us into more service areas and a lot more technol-
ogy issues. I’d say one of the key things would be this whole
area of efficiency around technology.
One pass in a parking lot with a motor grader. How do we
get that done where a contractor saves all kinds of fuel, green-
house gas and operator time when he only has to go once?
Blade control, for example, and that gets into the connected
work site — that’s what we were talking about.
in this issue
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