John Mashak is nearly 80 years old, and for the past 65 years or so, he’s had “yellow blood” running through his veins. Don’t worry. He’s perfectly healthy—just a big-time fan of all things Caterpillar.
He became a fan in the 1950s when he and his brother Rudy began using a 1930s-era Cat® dozer to do wintertime logging in the frozen woods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
“It was a good-handling tractor,” he recalls. “It would start even if it was 35 or 40 degrees below zero.”
Over time, the brothers took on more work and eventually launched an excavating company. They grew the business with a Cat fleet that included two more dozers, a couple of backhoes, a scraper and a motor grader.
John says they chose Cat equipment because “it’s a good, durable product that requires minimal maintenance.” He counted on his yellow iron to deliver “accurate grading and good controls” and says the machines were “easy on the operator” and brought “the most money at resale.”
Through the years, the Mashaks worked with four different Cat dealers, and though the names changed, the quality of service never did.
“Product support was excellent. We always had good service no matter what the machine. If we called before 3 pm, we’d have parts in our dropbox by 6 am the next day.”
While they’re now mostly retired, the Mashak brothers still own two Cat machines and take on private jobs from time to time. John’s son, who’s also named John, didn’t end up in the family business. Instead, he works for Caterpillar.
The younger John Mashak says it’s not uncommon for engineering grads from Michigan to go to work in the auto industry. “It’s usually tied to the first car they drove or liked,” he explains. But since his first ride was a Cat D3, he decided Caterpillar was “a perfect fit.”
His dad was happy to pass along that case of yellow blood.
“I always knew Caterpillar was a good company with lots of opportunity worldwide.”