Remanufacturing Bettendorf Plant, 1973.
Remanufacturing Bettendorf Plant, 1973.


Let’s open the Caterpillar vault and look back…

The year was 1973 –– the war in Vietnam was winding down, the word on Watergate was getting out, the Sydney Opera house had its grand opening and Caterpillar was ramping up production on Cat® Reman.

By Cat Reman | Posted: April 1, 2022


First, let’s go back a bit further — to 1925 — when Caterpillar was founded. As it was establishing itself as a leading equipment manufacturer, the concept of remanufacturing parts to lower ownership costs associated with engine and equipment components was just gaining steam. After spending several decades growing its business, Caterpillar leapt into the remanufacturing market to provide customers with affordable, sustainably produced products available through its network of dealers.

As John Disharoon, former Director of Market Access for Cat Reman, explained to the Rochester Institute of Technology: “One of the benefits of Caterpillar’s Reman business model is that it is essentially a closed-loop system. Caterpillar sells a remanufactured product to a dealer and charges a core deposit on the sale. When the core is returned, the deposit is refunded, thus lowering the total transaction cost for the customer and ensuring a high likelihood of the core return.”

Once the core is approved by dealer inspection, the core journeys through the Cat Reman process where it’s inspected, disassembled, cleaned, salvaged and remanufactured to match OEM standards while incorporating the latest upgrades. After it passes a final round of testing, the remanufactured part re-enters the supply chain as a new Cat Reman product.

This circular economy has been spinning for decades and will keep spinning into the future. But back in the early 1970s, there wasn’t much of a model for the remanufacture of engines and other heavy equipment components in the United States. Caterpillar had to make the mold.


"This is Bettendorf’s story — from grimy old to sparkling new engines."

"This is Bettendorf’s story — from grimy old to sparkling new engines."
"This is Bettendorf’s story — from grimy old to sparkling new engines."

It was March 7th, 1973, when Caterpillar established itself as the first American company with its own diesel truck engine remanufacturing plant. On this date — at a plant in Bettendorf, Iowa, U.S. — the first direct injection truck engine came off the assembly line. An additional 240 remanufactured engines were sold through authorized Cat dealers across the United States and Canada. Even then, Cat dealers provided customers with quality, dynamometer-tested remanufactured engines that were ready to be installed into their equipment within hours of delivery.

Fifty years ago, an aging truck engine was usually replaced with a new one after it passed the 120,000-mile mark. That changed thanks to Caterpillar visionaries like Wes Bracken. As one of the Cat Parts Distribution team members involved in the initial Cat Reman project, Bracken helped oversee the remanufacture of Cat 1100 and 3100 Series engines, offering like new performance for truck drivers across North America.

At the time, Bracken said: "The concept of remanufacturing the Cat 1100 and 3100 Series Engines has been enthusiastically accepted by Caterpillar dealers across the country. We also expect growing enthusiasm for the program from engine users… Until this year, these engines were overhauled by Caterpillar dealers and by some independent rebuilders. By remanufacturing them in quantity, we can let dealers offer users a top-quality engine that’s less expensive. If that’s not enough to cause rejoicing at roadside truck stops, they can trade for less than two-thirds the price of a new engine. This is Bettendorf’s story — from grimy old to sparkling new engines."

In the years following the 1973 launch, Caterpillar expanded the Cat Reman product line to encompass most of the industries we serve today. As a result of one such development, in 1985, Caterpillar created the technology to remove and install in-cylinder engine components as a single unit. This changed the way Caterpillar provided remanufactured products to customers — offering replacement liners, pistons and connecting rods in a single, pre-assembled kit: the Cat Reman Cylinder Pack.

The 1980s set other changes in motion as well. The Caterpillar remanufacturing process grew to include facilities in Corinth, Mississippi (1982), Nuevo Laredo, Mexico (1988) and more. Following the success of these facilities, Cat Reman factories opened in Shanghai, China (2006), West Fargo, North Dakota (2008) and Indonesia (2019).


Timeline of Cat Reman's History


According to current Cat Reman team members, the program’s path to present-day success has been clear. As Bob Paternoga, Cat Reman Vice President and General Manager, puts it: “Initially, the messaging back in the early 1970s was more, not necessarily external-focused, but more internally focused, in that, ‘Hey, this is a pretty good value for the company, Caterpillar, and that it will help us reduce our warranty expenses’ … Over time [that] expanded into other industries.”

Trent Tippey, Cat Reman Commercial Manager of Construction Industries, elaborates: "We also take a lot of stewardship in what we do, not only particularly for our customers, but also for an industry. And as we continue to think about where Cat Reman can play helping our customers achieve their business objectives going forward, I think it's going to be even more important … as the portfolio of Caterpillar continues to diversify and grow, the segments that we continue to support, continue to grow and evolve as well."

Today, Cat Reman is a shining example of the staying power of Cat products as well as Caterpillar innovations. Nearly 50 years ago, Cat Reman was just another bold idea from the Caterpillar team. Now, it’s a global program which provides over 8,000 unique parts, components and kits to customers. These sustainably remanufactured parts are available for up to 60 percent off the price of new products — giving equipment new life for a fraction of the cost. It’s a half-century investment that’s been good for Caterpillar and, ultimately, good for customers. 


Check out the range and variety of available Cat Reman parts.

“Cat Reman has been around since 1973, and if you think about the amount of material that over the years we've kept out of landfills, it's definitely something that we take pride in.”

Marcus Fair, Global On-Highway Truck Engine Sales Manager, Cat Reman

The Reman Difference
The Reman Difference




Head to the Cat Reman homepage to learn more about the parts and processes behind remanufactured Cat products.






Nicole Serena

Cat Reman


The thought leaders and subject matter experts involved in the design, development, distribution and marketing of Caterpillar’s remanufactured, like new products.

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