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A History of Innovation

It was the mid-1880s when Benjamin Holt helped establish the Stockton Wheel Company, which later became the Holt Manufacturing Company, in California’s fertile San Joaquin Valley. One of his first innovations, besides the wagon wheels and farm tools on which the company was founded, was the horse drawn “Link-Belt Combined Harvester” — named for the link-belt chains that replaced costly gears.

Although other combines existed at the time, none dealt with current challenges and reduced service requirements like the Holt harvester. As a result, Holt helped lower the cost of harvesting wheat from around $3.00 per acre to $1.75.

  benjamin Holt
  Benjamin Holt

early holt tractors, holt cat
  As Holt's early tractors grew larger and more unwieldy, their giant wheels bogged down in the farmlands, encouraging the development of the pioneering Holt track-type model.

Although other combines existed at the time, none dealt with current challenges and reduced service requirements like the Holt harvester. As a result, Holt helped lower the cost of harvesting wheat from around $3.00 per acre to $1.75. Benjamin Holt also went on to develop the first hillside combine for use in the Northwest. By 1900, Holt Manufacturing Company was the leading combine manufacturer in the nation.

Holt Manufacturing’s commitment to agriculture didn’t stop there. In 1890, the company produced its first steam traction engine. When attached to a Holt combine, in place of horses, it cut the cost of harvesting wheat to only 25 cents per acre. Unfortunately, heavy steam tractors bogged down in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta — prompting Benjamin Holt to come up with an idea for self-laying tracks in place of wheels. On November 24, 1904, the first successful track-type tractor, which he named “The Caterpillar”, crawled into American history. Four years later, in 1908, Holt advanced his track-type machine even further with a gasoline engine.


  original caterpillar tractor, holt
  The Original Caterpillar Tractor - By 1906, Holt tracks had proven so effective in plowing marshy delta lands that wheels had become a thing of the past. Holt machines developed an international reputation.

original holt cat logo
  The first Holt logo used in a 1912 sales brochure commemorated the company's 1883 manufacturing origin.

As the company grew, Holt moved the tractor manufacturing operations to a more central location in Peoria, Illinois, eventually merging with a competitor and becoming Caterpillar Tractor Company. One of Holt’s sons, William K. “Bill” Holt, established the first Caterpillar dealership in Mexico in the 1920’s. In 1933, Bill Holt expanded his Cat operations into Texas. Over the years, Holt innovation once again came to the aid of farmers and ranchers with the development of the HOLT Root Plow™, Root Rake™ and other brush management implements, which are still being manufactured and sold today.

Even before the development of track-type agricultural tractors, Holt was helping Texas producers clear land, till the soil and improve livestock production.

Today, the Holt land-clearing equipment is sold all over the world, a tribute to the second generation of Holt ingenuity.

The Holt family continues to service and support agriculture through HOLT AgriBusiness, which strives to extend the personal service and support to ag customers in Texas, Arkansas, Missouri and beyond.

  The innovative design of Holt combines replaced costly gearing with "link belt" chains that transmitted power from the wheel to the combine's working parts.




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HOLT®AgriBusiness is the authorized dealer for industry-leading agricultural equipment, implements, parts and service in selected areas of Texas. With a history going back to the 1800s, HOLT AgriBusiness sells and provides parts and service for the full lines of tractors from Challenger, Massey Ferguson and Fendt; hay equipment, loaders, combines and Haytools; Sunflower, RoGator and TerraGator. HOLT AgriBusiness also sells Caterpillar machines. Holt AgriBusiness stores are located in Cleburne, Corpus Christi, Fort Worth, Little Elm, Texarkana, San Antonio, Sulphur Springs, Victoria, Waco, Texas.

For a complete list of Caterpillar products for sale by HOLT CAT, see www.holtcat.com.

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