The global economic crisis has had an impact on many industries, including banking and construction. Many banks have tightened their lending criteria, making it more difficult for small businesses to obtain loans. And because of the deep downturn in the construction business, contractors have often found it especially difficult to obtain financing.
JT Russell & Sons, a highway contractor founded in 1939, was in a good position to weather the downturn. As both an asphalt supplier and a paving contractor, the company was diverse enough to thrive. Despite the company's good financial condition, owner Jim Russell was having a hard time getting financing from local banks to purchase new equipment.
When looking to add more skid steers to his fleet, Russell turned to local Cat® dealer Carolina Cat. Each paving crew uses a skid steer. With a variety of attachments, these compact, versatile machines can perform the job of multiple, larger machines. The crews can work more efficiently because one person can operate the skid steer and change the attachments, freeing up others to focus on more labor-intensive tasks on the job site. The one-handed controls on the Cat skid steers are a big benefit to the operators. "That's what my guys want," Russell said.
Mitch Christenbury, a salesman at Carolina Cat, was able to offer Russell some innovative ways to purchase the new equipment. Russell took advantage of financing offered by Cat Financial. The payment plans offered by Cat Financial can be tailored to suit a customer's needs. According to Russell, he can tell them he'd like to pay the loan off in four years and have no payments in the months of January, February and March. "Cat Finance gets it. They know what it takes to work with you and what works for you."
Russell has also financed equipment through Carolina Cat's rental purchase program. Because the equipment is rented, the payments don't show up as a liability on the company's ledgers each month. This often makes it easier for the company to obtain the bond insurance it needs to bid on certain jobs. At the end of the rental purchase agreement's terms, the company owns the equipment outright, the same as they would have if they'd financed it traditionally. Jim Russell, the third generation owner, has carried on his father's and grandfather's tradition of working with Carolina Cat, and the folks at the dealer are more than happy to do what it takes to continue the relationship. Christenbury knows the importance of giving his customer what he needs. "Flexibility is the name of the game," said Christenbury. "Jim knows what he wants and how he wants to get it."
And Russell has been very pleased with both the service and products he's received from Caterpillar. "I have never met one person at Caterpillar — from the salespeople to the mechanics to the corporate folks — who doesn't care about you," said Russell. "I don't feel like a customer. I feel like a partner."
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