With an eye on the future and a strong respect for the past, Southworth-Milton is changing its trade name to Milton CAT. The company, headquartered in Milford, MA, has been known as Southworth-Milton since 1991. The name change to Milton CAT comes shortly after the company expanded its territory into western New York with the acquisition of bordering Caterpillar dealer Syracuse Supply Company.
Milton CAT’s dealer principal and president, Chris Milton, has a keen admiration for tradition and history. As a third generation Milton to be at the helm of a Caterpillar dealership, he understands the value the Caterpillar partnership brings to the organization. Chris’s father, Jack Milton, learned the ropes under his father, “Milt” Milton, at former Massachusetts Caterpillar dealer Perkins-Milton back in the 1950s.
With that experience, Jack Milton moved north in 1960 with partner Bill Jordan and founded Jordan-Milton Machinery in Concord, NH. They represented Caterpillar equipment and engines in New Hampshire and Vermont and expanded into Maine with the acquisition of Arnold Machinery Company in 1982.
In 1991, Jordan-Milton merged with and later acquired Southworth Machinery, and the company underwent a name change. Jordan had sold his interest in the company to the Miltons when he retired in the early 1980s, but Jack Milton kept “Jordan” in the name until merging with Southworth.
“With the recent acquisition of Syracuse Supply Company, it seems that now is the appropriate time to simplify the company name and better reflect where the company is today,” said Larry Cutliffe, vice president of marketing.
“We have gained tremendous benefits as an organization by blending the people from the companies that today make up Milton CAT into our culture and business philosophy. The history of those organizations will live on through the employees from those companies and their relationships with fellow members of the Milton CAT team as well as our customers.”
Today, Milton CAT is a privately-held company owned by the Milton family. The company’s foundation and reputation has been built in large part as a result of its partnership with Caterpillar.
Having a trade name that ties the Milton name, business philosophy and culture together with the brand recognition of the Caterpillar name also simplifies the trade name without trying to bring a piece of each name of the companies that today make up Milton CAT.
The Milton business philosophy and culture runs deep and has been fully embraced by all members of the Milton CAT team.
“From the beginning, the company’s philosophy has been to hire good people, give them the tools they need to get the job done and empower them to make decisions within their area of responsibility,” said company founder Jack Milton, now a semi-retired advisor to the firm.
“The key is to have the people closest to the action make the necessary decisions in order to best serve the needs of our customers. Machine and engine uptime is critical. If we aren’t able to make informed decisions quickly, we aren’t solving problems and our customers aren’t able to work. The guy looking the customer in the eye is the most efficient one to call the shots — so we give him the authority to make the call that makes the most sense for the customer as well as Milton CAT. It’s really a pretty simple way to do business.”
Even as the company has grown from its roots of 23 employees in a small shop on Main Street in Concord, NH, to more than 1,100 employees covering six states and 14 stores, the philosophy remains unchanged. It filters throughout the organization and remains a constant even in times of change.
“It’s quite remarkable with all of the changes in the company, the industry, the people and the technology that we have been able to maintain our core values — and they have continued to contribute to our success,” said Milton CAT President Chris Milton. “We have been able to take that model and apply it to all aspects of our business.”
Chris Milton acknowledged the company has evolved to keep up with changing times. With the expansion of the Caterpillar product offering and the addition of complementary lines of equipment, Milton CAT now has highly specialized teams for each area of its business.
“Every organization has to adapt in order to remain competitive. The processes we use and the industries we work with will continue to evolve, but we will continue to base our philosophy on what has worked for more than 60 years.”
The employees most recently coming into the Milton CAT fold from the former Syracuse Supply Company have adopted this simple approach to the business. Milton CAT has already made significant changes in upstate New York.
“The company’s size certainly works to our advantage,” said Gib Gagnon, Milton CAT’s New York general sales manager based in the company’s Syracuse location.
“We have a greater selection of equipment, a much-expanded rental fleet and the ability to offer more flexible rental and purchase plans that reflect and serve the unique needs of each equipment user. For people new to the organization, it is exciting to have so much available to them to quickly respond to customer needs.”
Cutliffe commented, “Don’t let the name ‘Milton CAT’ lead you to believe that all we focus on is Caterpillar equipment and engines. In addition to representing the entire line of Caterpillar machinery, engines and power generation equipment, we also have a complete line of crushing and screening equipment, Genie aerial lifts, Challenger agricultural and utility tractors, Timberking forestry products, as well as attachments and work tools ranging from shears, hammers and thumbs to forks, landscape rakes and buckets.
“The ‘CAT’ in Milton CAT sends a clear message that we offer the finest products available in the world. For all of the other complementary lines of equipment that we offer beyond the Caterpillar line-up — we want to convey the message we will accept nothing less than ‘best-in-class’ for the products we represent as well as the product support we provide.”
Cutliffe added that in early July, customers will begin to see the transition to the new name in such areas as signage, advertising, the way the phone is answered, and all the other ways a company identities itself on an on-going basis.