Financial Products is built to provide financing to customers and dealers for the purchase and lease of Cat® equipment, as well as financing for Cat®product sales to dealers. Financing plans include operating and finance leases, installment sale contracts, working capital loans and wholesale financing plans. Financial Products provides various forms of insurance to customers and dealers to help support the purchase and lease of our equipment. Corporate Services provides business and human resources, information technology, accounting and finance services to Caterpillar, serving as the enterprise resource for business-related activities.
What is different about the current downturn compared to others in our history?
In 2009, we had a 37 percent decline in our sales and revenues. It happened fast, and then we had a recovery. This is different. As we look at 2016, we’re on the fourth year of a decline in sales, and it’s our job to manage at the sales level that we have at this moment in time. We have a U.S. economy that is not showing great growth. We have developing countries, such as Brazil and China, at very low levels in terms of our industry. Clearly, mining companies, in terms of commodities, have suffered greatly. The good news is Caterpillar is in a strong position to handle an increase in business. This downturn is the right opportunity to focus on critical initiatives like Digital, Lean and Across the Table.
What provides you with the most confidence about our position?
We have the best people. We hire, develop and train the absolute best workforce in any industry, any company, in my view. That’s clearly a differentiator. As a result, we have quality products and are gaining market position for machines. Because of our good operational performance in this downturn, we have a very strong balance sheet, which gives us flexibility to look for growth opportunities. Even in these tough times, we’ve continued to have very high levels of research and development for new products and other initiatives, such as our digital spend, Across the Table and Lean.
Caterpillar has multiple initiatives across the company related to technology, especially big data and analytics. What role does our information technology team play on this front?
We want our customers to make more money with our products than they do with any of our competitors. Data is going to become a big piece of that value creation as we use the information from our products to create even more value for the customer. We have to be the best at that and we’re well positioned. Our information technology group is an integral part of how we deliver the best value to the customers for our products.
How do you see technology improving the way we work internally?
We are a large company, and we’re very integrated. I think what we’re lacking a bit as we move forward is how we can use technology today to pull all of us together around problems, around issues, around opportunities in a way that’s much more efficient. We will see that change as we use true collaboration tools to solve business problems.
How is the work of the Human Services Division supporting Caterpillar’s growth?
Our human resource group is embedded in our business units. This means that all the issues around people and development are handled as close to the business as possible, such as how we can provide a better culture and environment so our people love to work here. People should feel their opinions and their ideas are listened to and acted on. There’s a lot of value and personal satisfaction when you know if you bring something up, it’ll be listened to, and it’ll be a part of the solution.
What role is Cat Financial playing in supporting our customers?
We do a good (or excellent) job at making sure that our customers understand the value that Cat Financial has to offer. As a result, the percent of dealer deliveries that we’ve financed has gone up significantly in the past four years. That organization also runs extremely efficiently. They touch more customers in a day than you could ever imagine. If you walk through Cat Financial’s customer service center, you can tell the only thing on our team’s mind is “How do I help this customer?”