Caterpillar History
Caterpillar History

The Legacy of Caterpillar’s Founders Lives On

Over 100 years ago, our founders Benjamin Holt and C.L. Best changed the industry. Their passion for customers and innovation lives on at Caterpillar today.


By Nicole Serena, Contributor | Posted: December 12 , 2020 | Revised: April 26, 2022

In a time when horses powered infrastructure and agriculture, Caterpillar co-founders Benjamin Holt and C.L. Best created products that transformed the way our customers worked. 

In the late 1800s, Holt and Best were rivals. Both had companies that manufactured harvesters and tractors. Their competition fueled innovation – machines advanced from steam-powered to gas, and from large wheels to tracks. They made products more reliable and increased performance.

By the end of World War I, both companies remained competitive, but each with its own unique advantages. Best had a more advanced tractor design and the makings of a solid dealer network. Holt had a worldwide reputation, the “Caterpillar” trademark, larger factories and a combined harvester line that had been around for 40 years.

Blending the best of both worlds, the two companies merged in 1925 and Caterpillar Tractor Co. was born.

Holt and Best's passion for their customers and innovation is stronger than ever here at Caterpillar. We call it "yellow blood."

Watch these videos for more on Holt & Best’s legacy:

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Benjamin Holt and C.L. Best changed the industry over 100 years ago – first as competitors, and then as the founders of Caterpillar. Their passion for customers and innovation lives on today.

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C.L. Best, Caterpillar Tractor Company’s first chairman, helped create one of the most significant tractors in our company’s 90-plus year history: the Sixty. Before there was even a Caterpillar company, there was the C.L. Best Tractor Company.

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Benjamin Holt, a pioneer of American agricultural innovation, changed the world of earthmoving forever on Thanksgiving Day, 1904, when he tested what would become the world’s first commercially successful track-type tractor.

The Legacy of Caterpillar's Founders Lives On
C.L. Best's Legacy of Achievement and Innovation | Caterpillar History
Celebrating Caterpillar Co-Founder Benjamin Holt

Caterpillar History

Find out more about our last 100+ years, get a glimpse into our Corporate Archives, and see some of the photos, artifacts and videos from our historical collection.

Caterpillar History
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Caterpillar History
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Nicole Serena

Contributor

Nicole is a second-generation Caterpillar employee with a passion for digital marketing. Currently in the brand marketing team, she's spent the past several years managing digital media and content — including Caterpillar's social media program. Nicole lives in central Illinois with her husband and two young boys (and two very active dogs).

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