The Where I Work series explores San Antonio’s evolving workplaces. It takes readers behind the scenes to learn from the people who work at companies large and small, nonprofits, family-owned enterprises, and in other nontraditional workplaces. Get in touch to share your story.
For almost nine years, whenever I’ve been asked where I work, I’ve proudly responded, “Holt Cat!” I’m proud to be part of a family-owned business with deep Texas roots. While those from outside Texas may not be familiar with our company, most people from San Antonio typically flash a quick smile when they learn I work at Holt Cat – and then ask for Spurs tickets.
While it is widely known that the Holt family owns a key stake in our beloved hometown basketball team, their family’s legacy is just as impactful to me and the other 2,800-plus employees across Texas who work at Holt Cat.
To really understand Holt Cat, you would need to go back to 1904 when Benjamin Holt invented the first successful track-type tractor, which he called the “Caterpillar.” That was the beginning of what would become the Caterpillar Company, which today is among the Fortune 100 largest companies in the world. Caterpillar uses the dealership model to sell and support their products, similar to the way auto manufacturers work. Holt Cat is just one of many Caterpillar dealerships, but one that is unique in many ways, including being among the largest Cat dealers in the world.
But Holt Cat is much more than just a tractor company. Some people might have an image of an industry that’s stuck in the past, but we have a creative, dynamic team committed to investing in technology and adapting to the changing markets around us.
Since joining Holt Cat in July 2012 in the finance department, I have moved into three progressive operations roles before landing in my current position. I am currently the regional parts manager for the southern part of our territory, which means I manage nine stores including Austin, San Antonio, Victoria, Corpus Christi, Edinburg, Weslaco, Eagle Pass, Laredo, and Sonora.
It has been a privilege to serve such a diverse customer base across our territory. Just in this one region of the state, we are proud to support a broad spectrum of customers from small family-run businesses to huge international corporations. We serve customers in a huge array of industries including construction, oil and gas, municipalities, landscaping and ranch work, trucking companies, marine engines, power generation, and mining among many more. Our goal is always to provide legendary customer service, and for me, that means consistent communication and frequent trips to support our local teams and their customers.
Having responsibility for more than 100 people across nine stores is both humbling and inspiring. Within my team, we employ a broad range of skill sets and experience levels, including everything from high school interns to employees with more than 45 years of experience at Holt Cat.
One of our biggest challenges as a company is addressing the labor shortage. Like so many industries in the current economic environment, we are working hard to find the best talent for positions across the company. One way we’ve addressed this challenge is through the development of our internship program.
Students work with us throughout high school, building their skills and learning the business. Upon graduation, many join us full time. We also have targeted college internship programs and we offer some enticing programs like tuition reimbursement. We also support our city’s reputation as “Military City, USA” by working with all branches of the military to hire veterans who are transitioning to the civilian workforce.
Just as important as being able to meet these challenges is being able to diversify into industries that complement our foundational business. Over the last few years, we have made several acquisitions, including businesses focused on renewable energy, air compression equipment, construction technology, rental equipment, and logistics services. Each of these acquisitions has provided opportunities for sustained growth for the company while also creating opportunities for new customer bases. All of our related businesses work hand in hand to support the many diverse needs of our current customers and to grow the breadth of customers we can serve. While some of these businesses are fully integrated into the Holt Cat dealership, others are operated more independently.
With the booming economies across the state of Texas, business is thriving at Holt Cat. San Antonio is experiencing incredible growth, specifically around the southeast side of town, where our new headquarters building is located. It really creates a feeling of excitement and optimism for our company and our city.
Looking back to that day in 2012 when I first walked on campus, I remember being awestruck at the number of tenured employees who had been with Holt Cat for 20, 30, or 40 years. Now, with almost nine years of service under my belt, I am still just as inspired by the commitment with which they serve each other, our customers, and our communities. To use a line from our former owner, B.D. Holt, “The best is yet to come!”