Caterpillar: Poster Child for the U.S. Manufacturing Renaissance: Record Order Backlog of $30 Billion
Reuters - "It hasn't been long since Caterpillar Inc looked like the typical resident of the Rust Belt. Having misjudged how deep the U.S. economy would decline, the world's largest maker of construction machinery reduced its workforce by 33,000 people worldwide in 2009, closed plants and posted lower profits. But the Peoria, Illinois-based company has mounted a quick recovery and is emerging as the poster child for America's manufacturing renaissance.
In 24 months, 15 Caterpillar facilities have been built or updated in the U.S., tens of thousands of workers have been added to the payroll and $2 billion is committed for capital investments on its home soil this year.
"We haven't seen Caterpillar doing this much building in the United States since probably the 1960s," said Peter Holt, owner of the Holt Caterpillar dealership in San Antonio. Caterpillar is building a $200 million plant two hours southeast of his store, in Victoria, Texas, that is slated to start churning out badly needed excavators later this summer.
Underpinning Caterpillar's U.S. momentum is a flood of demand by heavy equipment users in America - ranging from construction companies to oil drillers to cement producers - who are looking to replace aging machines now that the economy is improving and credit is easier to obtain.
While the company has expanded quickly in emerging markets and new sectors, including mining and railroads, much of its confidence hinges on its faith in a gradually improving U.S. economy.
"We came out of the recession much stronger and faster than expected," Caterpillar Chief Executive Doug Oberhelman said in a company report in March. "I'm not one for passing up sales, so we really had to ramp up production quickly." Key to this optimism is Caterpillar's record order backlog of $30 billion, three times higher than it was in 2009. Some customers will not get trucks they have ordered until as late as 2014."
Related: See CD post below on Midwest manufacturing.