In 1918, the Holt Manufacturing Company of Peoria, Illinois, boasted that its Model 45 tractor could do the work of, “40 mules . . . or 40 horses and countless humans.” The Holt 45 had proven its mettle on the battlefields of World War I, with nearly 10,000 of them serving as artillery tractors. An employee at Yancey Bros. Co. had watched the 45 in action and told Goodloe and Earle they needed to see it for themselves. The brothers traveled to Peoria and were so impressed, they asked Holt if they could represent the product in the southeastern United States.

Holt preferred to make its own direct sales to end users and the United States Army, and questioned the need for local distribution. Goodloe pointed to thirty-five non-current tractors sitting in the yard. (At the end of the war Holt had huge surplus inventories.)

“I think they thought we were out of our heads,” Goodloe recalled years later.

Unable to secure a demonstration tractor, the brothers left Peoria with only a photograph of the Holt Model 45, a price quote of $4,750 per machine, and a promise of a 5 percent commission and a Dealer contract if they could sell all thirty-five.

They were certain that with new highway construction in the South, they could sell plenty of Holt 45s.

The brothers made their first sale of a Model 45 to Troup County, and then another to Ben Hill County, which was building a branch of the Dixie Highway that ran through middle Georgia.

Within twelve months of their trip to Peoria, Goodloe and Earle had sold all of the Model 45s in Holt’s Illinois inventory and several more from the West Coast, using only a single photograph. Georgia counties were eager to make improvements for a growing population of automobiles. When they returned to the Holt factory in Peoria the following year, they were given Holt’s first jobber’s contract, and a higher commission than initially promised. On January 1, 1919, Yancey was officially a Caterpillar Dealer.

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Foundations 1914 - 1938
Era Stories