Caterpillar employee Mike Leonard's father-in-law fell in love with an area of Honduras called the Laguna de Los Micos, "Lagoon of the Monkeys," and made it his home about 60 years ago. He saved money for years to purchase a piece of property along the coast to fish, farm the land and raise his family of eight children.
About 20 years ago, the family dream of building an eco-friendly resort on the coast of this lagoon began. The family, principally Leonard's brother-in-law, Mario, believed that this would be a worthwhile investment because it would bring jobs and more opportunities to the people living in the remote and forgotten community of Agua Chiquita.
With the help of a rented backhoe, Mario broke ground on his own piece of neighboring property about five years ago and today he has four big cabins, an open-air restaurant and a conference room on the property.
When the rented backhoe proved to be an indispensable tool to the continuation of the project, Leonard decided to contribute to the family dream by purchasing a Cat® certified used 420E backhoe loader through the dealer in Honduras, Cemcol.
"I have to say that everyone I dealt with at Caterpillar was very helpful. From the account managers at Whayne and Walker, who got us quotes on used gear; to the people in Miami at Cat Used who were very helpful with information on comparable machines available in Central America; to the representatives at Cemcol in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, who helped us with pricing, purchasing, delivery and training on our machine," Leonard said.
In the near future, Leonard said he intends to assist the community of Agua Chiquita on improving the access road to their remote village.
"But in the meantime, I simply enjoy in being a part of it, visiting once a year to see it grow and to watch how one small Cat machine can make such a life changing difference to a community. It is so cool to work for the company that made what was once believed to be an impossible dream possible," he said.
Leonard and his wife, Maria, also founded a charity, Coffee Arabica Foundation for Education, which utilizes coffee from a cooperative in Honduras as its fundraising vehicle and helps improve the lives of impoverished Honduran children through educational scholarships that allow the children to study beyond sixth grade.