Leading with Integrity

Every company claims to be dedicated to its customers, but how many can prove it through their entire century-long history?

HOLT CAT® was providing excellent service to its industry even before its official inception. The man credited with the founding of Caterpillar, Benjamin Holt, passed down a zealous commitment to client service and satisfaction that still rings true for the fifth generation of HOLT CAT, which is currently adapting its skills to the ins and outs of the present-day business. HOLT CAT, after all, is the only Cat® dealership in the world that has been continually owned and operated by direct descendants of Benjamin Holt.

Caterpillar’s Humble Beginnings

But you probably don’t know Benjamin Holt for this—you know him as an inventor. The turn-of-the-century heavy-machinery expert invented what is known today as the first “caterpillar” machine, the crawler-type tread, leading him to found The Holt Manufacturing Company.

This was after two decades of inventions, including the first horse-drawn link-belt combined harvester, which started the trend of invention and innovation for the Holt family. The Caterpillar first crawled across a California wheat field in 1904, was powered by a gas engine starting in 1908, and hasn’t stopped dominating the industry since.

1925 saw The Holt Manufacturing Company merge with a competitor to become Caterpillar Tractor Co., creating a strong, independent line of Cat dealerships which established the brand by providing customers with responsive service. This was after the manufacturing operations company—Caterpillar Tractor Co.—moved to Illinois to be more central for distribution, and helped fight on the front line by towing equipment in World War One.

HOLT CAT: A Caterpillar Dealer is Born

Benjamin Holt’s second son—William K. “Bill” Holt—founded the HOLT CAT we know today in 1933 under the name Wm. K. Holt Machinery Co., which provided Caterpillar machines and parts to 60 counties in South Texas at the time.

The middle of the 1900s saw large expansion in Texas, the invention and domination of Holt land-clearing equipment in the industry, and the passing on of the Caterpillar dealership through Bill Holt to his nephews B.D. Holt and Holt Atherton, and finally to Peter M. Holt, current CEO.

The acquisition of the North Texas Cat dealership, Darr Equipment, in 2002 doubled the size of HOLT’s business. Today the company offers new and used machines and engines for sale, rents machinery, performs service, and offers a full range of parts to ensure customers are able to meet their obligations. These services are available to several different industries including mining, road and home building, commercial construction, oil and gas, as well as energy and emergency power backup for facilities.

But today’s high level of success, diversification, and rapid growth would not be possible without HOLT’s incredible commitment to service, which has been made possible by its dedication to the Values Based Leadership style.

HOLT CAT Management Team

HOLT CAT Management Team

Values Based Leadership

There is no better example of this leadership style than at HOLT CAT, a company that brought VBL into its organization in the late 1980s and has been prospering from it ever since.

By connecting a business’s goals to its employees’ personal values, employees are more motivated and the business more successful. Despite always having a commitment to people and customer service, this was something Peter M. Holt knew the organization sorely needed.

Larry Mills Executive VP

Larry Mills Executive VP

This cornerstone to how HOLT CAT does business was introduced to Peter by Ken Blanchard, management expert and renowned author of The One Minute Manager and other best-selling leadership books. Larry Mills, Executive Vice President, was part of the leadership team that helped institute the VBL model.

Known as the “soul” of HOLT CAT, Mills has worked for the company for four decades and is considered both the patriarch of VBL and the company’s culture steward.

“The Holt family has always had a balanced approach to business—they want their vendors to be taken care of, give back to employees, and enrich the community,” Mills shared. “We decided to formalize this culture in clear, consistent language anyone in the company can understand. It is non-negotiable. It provides the clarity every employee needs to make good choices and exceed our customer’s expectation. Culture trumps strategy every time.”

HOLT’S Values Based Leadership is based on five pillars: ethics, success, excellence, commitment, and being dynamic. Mills shared that these pillars serve as a compass for each employee, guiding them through the personal and business decisions they make every day.

“This is important, because our employees believe and live out our Vision, Values, and Mission every day in every transaction: they are not just posters hung on the walls,” he shared. “Almost thirty years ago when we created our Values we decided it was important to define them so their meaning would be clear for all.”

VBL was even introduced within the San Antonio Spurs organization—the basketball team in which Peter has part ownership. After it was introduced, the NBA team has gone on to win the championship title four times. Coincidence? We think not.

It’s easy to see all of these values in use, even just from the few interactions our editorial team had with HOLT CAT. Commitment, however, stands out above them all.

Edward Craner EVP

Edward Craner EVP

Edward Craner, Senior Vice President of Strategy and Marketing at HOLT, shared that a number of families who were with the business to start—both clients and employees—are still with the company today. This commitment, from both long-term employees and clients, stems from the Values Based Leadership style. Mills agreed, stating that his four decades with the company comes down to the wonderful people he gets to work with on a daily basis.

“My highest and best use is coaching, mentoring, and serving others,” Mills shared. “I have been blessed to be in an organization with wonderful people committed to our unique core values. It has allowed me to grow personally and professionally. The ownership of the company is moving to its fifth generation, and it is very important to me to give back the gifts I’ve received over the years.”

Peter John Holt & Corinna Holt Richter

Both Corinna Holt Richter and Peter John Holt, children of current CEO Peter M. Holt, have joined the company in the last few years, and are in the process of learning the business to carry on the tradition of VBL and the Holt family name.

To ensure new employees adapt to the company culture, a standalone entity within the company—Holt Developmental Services, Inc. or HDSI—provides soft-skills training and evaluations. This division evaluates each person at HOLT and helps customize a training program that will benefit him or her. Craner believes that this has been one of the best investments the company has made.

“HOLT CAT invests not just in business strategy, innovations, safety, and everything else that goes into a business. HOLT CAT invests in its people,” he said. “Every single employee within the company is equipped with the tools to do their job according to our values-based culture.”

Legendary Customer Service

When each employee is given the tools to succeed, the quality of customer service increases. That’s the result HOLT CAT has come to, and Larry Mills shared that it’s the VBL style that has created its “legendary customer service”.

“Many companies struggle with delivering legendary customer service,” he said. “Employees feel conflicted doing the right thing for customers due to ever-changing messages from leadership, counter-intuitive recognition methods, and a lack of clarity about how to make tough decisions. Focusing on our VBL culture empowers employees to make the difficult calls without conferring with the normal hierarchal chain of command.”

With its 24-hour service expertise, remote parts pickup locations, and its ‘On Time, In Full’ parts guarantee however, HOLT CAT has no trouble meeting—and exceeding—its customers’ expectations and needs.

Although the company has upwards of 30 store locations throughout Texas, there could still be a fair bit of distance from a customer’s work site and a HOLT CAT store. To better serve its customers, and to make sure customers have parts when they need them, the company set up over 150 parts pickup locations throughout its dealership territory. HOLT CAT delivery trucks drive over 8,000 miles every night to distribute needed parts to these pickup locations.

HOLT® CAT is the authorized Caterpillar® heavy equipment and engine dealer for 118 counties in South, Central, North and East Texas. Established in 1933, HOLT sells, services and rents Cat equipment, engines and generators for construction, mining, industrial, petroleum and agricultural applications.  HOLT sells Caterpillar used equipment worldwide and fabricates its own line of custom engineered products including root plows and water tankers.

HOLT CAT is one of 15 dealers in the Americas to receive Caterpillar’s “Circle of Excellence” award. This award is given to the top five dealers in Caterpillar’s East Region, West/Canada Region, and South America Region. This prestigious recognition is achieved through a dealerships consistent excellence across a variety of business measurements including performance, quality, safety and customer satisfaction.


Corporate Office
3302 South W.W. White Road
San Antonio, TX 78222

T 210-648-1111