Mike Anderson's American Iron

Better Roads Staff | August 2, 2011

Are You a Fan of the Brand?

By Mike Anderson

What do you do when “your” brand drifts into history? What can you do?

Besides the proverbial gnashing of teeth, not much . . . other than accept the reality that such is the nature of the construction equipment industry. Brands come and go; they are created, built, nurtured, even loved, and then sold, absorbed, shut down and finally, we hope, simply remembered.

The flippant conclusions above notwithstanding, please don’t get me wrong about the hurt feelings of equipment users, owners and plain ol’ fans. Their sentiments are not only totally understandable; they are downright commendable and inspiring.

One can’t imagine that the men who started building machines way back when for Galion, or Allis, or Dominion, or Bucyrus, had any inkling whatsoever that they were, in fact, building legacies. How could they know that, for generations to come long after both they and their work had passed, good and honest people would celebrate that very work? The “fan of the brand” will literally spend years’ worth of weekends and nights toiling away in his barn or garage fixing up an old orange crawler tractor, just to be able to truck his shiny labor of love off to a farmer’s field six states away so that he can polish it up again alongside fellow aficionados and their orange crawler tractors. It’s wonderful . . . and, if the brand fathers could see what kind of kinship their work led to, it would be incredibly humbling, I suspect.

So, cheers to you and your brand, whether it’s Galion, or Allis, or Dominion, or indeed Bucyrus. Following the recent completion of Caterpillar’s $8.8 billion acquisition of mining equipment manufacturer Bucyrus International, a report we posted on equipmentworld.com brought this, unsolicited, from a gentleman living along Florida’s Atlantic Coast:

Dear Sir, I am a huge Bucyrus fan, I knew CAT would do away with the historic name, I am not happy at all . . .

Steve Wunning, Caterpillar group president, explained during the July 8 announcement: “As we examined this issue, it became clear it would be in the best long-term interests of our business to have a single brand for our mining customers.”

And so it goes.

Important people do, indeed, make important decisions. It is their responsibility and obligation to do so.

And the rest of us? Well, we’ll just head on back to our garages and barns. Such a tribute is, truly, the best we can do.

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