Father and Son Share Their Love for Caterpillar

John Mashak’s injection of yellow paint came about 65 years ago, when the now-79-year-old was just 15 years of age. That’s when he and his brother Rudy started using a Caterpillar Fifteen dozer for some wintertime logging work in the woods around their Iron Mountain, Michigan, dairy farm.

“It was a good-handling tractor,” Mashak says of the machine he thinks was a 1933 or 1934 model. “It would start even if it was 35 or 40 degrees below zero. It was a durable product in an environment that was rough on equipment.”

As time went on, the brothers took on more projects—land clearing and soil conservation work to start—and in the mid-1950s established their own business, Mashak Brothers Excavating Contractors. Their fleet of Cat® equipment grew, too. Mashak recalls owning D4 and D8H dozers, 225 and 416 backhoes, a 12 grader and a 627 scraper over the years. When it came to purchasing equipment, his first choice was always Caterpillar.

 

“IT WOULD START EVEN IF IT WAS 35 OR 40 DEGREES BELOW ZERO. IT WAS A DURABLE PRODUCT IN AN ENVIRONMENT THAT WAS ROUGH ON EQUIPMENT.”

 

“It’s a good, durable product that requires minimal maintenance,” Mashak says. “Cat machines are always known for accurate grading, good controls and being easy on the operator. They always bring the most money at resale, too—that says something.”

Over the course of his company’s six decades of operation, Mashak had the chance to work with several Cat dealers—Brebner, Kramer, Fabco and Fabick. While the names may have changed, he says the quality of the service never did.

“Product support was excellent. We always had good service no matter what the machine. If we called before 3pm, we’d have parts in our dropbox by 6am the next day.”

While they’re now mostly retired, Mashak and his brother still own a Cat D3 dozer and 426 backhoe and take on private jobs from time to time. The older Mashak has passed on his love for Caterpillar. One of his sons, also named John, has worked for Caterpillar for the past two years.

 

GET THE LATEST STORIES AND TIPS FROM CATERPILLAR – SIGN UP FOR OUR E-NEWSLETTER

 

“As a Michigan native, a lot of my friends from college wanted to work for one of the Big Three automakers, and it was usually tied to the first car they drove or liked,” the younger Mashak says. “It was a little different for me. The first vehicle I ‘drove’ was a Cat D3. Growing up around machines and attaining a mechanical engineering degree made it feel like Caterpillar was a perfect fit.”

His dad agrees. “I always knew Caterpillar was a good company with lots of opportunity worldwide.”

Sounds like that’s two generations of the Mashak family with Cat yellow paint in their blood.

 

 

 

 

RELATED STORIES:


Protect Your Investment with Customer Support Agreements

Every piece of Cat® equipment is designed and built to provide maximum productivity and operating economy throughout its working life. Your Cat dealer can help you maintain that built-in value through a Customer Support Agreement (CSA).

Learn More

Find a Dealer

When you and your Cat® dealer team up with a CSA, you get more than just a piece of Cat iron, you get the company.

Find a Dealer
Music Video Tells the Story of a Father’s Love, a Son’s Loss & a 1953 Cat® D6 Dozer

“For my dad and for many contractors, Caterpillar is the standard.” Recording artist Matt Stillwell’s new single, “Hey Dad,” honors the memory of his father—and the video features his dad’s prized D6 Dozer.

Learn More
Good Equipment Management Extends Life of Cat® 160M to 18,000 Hours—and Counting

Taking care of the little things keeps the Bouchier Group’s equipment running strong—like its Cat® 160M Motor Grader, which has accumulated 18,000 hours of operation and counting.

Learn More
A True Cat® Dozer Man

Henry Schinske of Henry’s Custom Dozer Service is coming up on his 60th anniversary of operating Cat® dozers. His collection includes a Cat D5B dozer, two D6D dozers, a D6H and a D6R.

Learn More
The Transformers

For decades, Washington farmers have been hot-rodding Cat dozers to manage land conversion, turning the rocky hills into a fertile breadbasket.

Learn More