Ziegler CAT: 100 Years of Building Minnesota and Iowa

📅 Sat August 30, 2014 - National Edition

William H. Ziegler, founder and president of William H. Ziegler Co. Inc.
William H. Ziegler, founder and president of William H. Ziegler Co. Inc.

Ziegler takes great pride in the role it has played in helping build and grow the Upper Midwest during the past century. From the time that William H. Ziegler opened a small office in Minneapolis in 1914 up to today, with 1,700 employees and 21 locations throughout Minnesota and Iowa, Ziegler has stood for integrity, quality, and outstanding customer service. The company’s product is, and always will be service.

During much of its early history, Ziegler provided Minnesota contractors with a broad line of industrial equipment. In 1920, the company became the distributor of the C. L. Best Tractor Co. and spearheaded the use of tracked equipment in the region. It sold its first Best 60 to the Minneapolis Park Board that same year. One of its first jobs was grading and landscaping around Lake Nokomis.

Soon after, Best tractors from Ziegler pioneered Minnesota’s earliest snow removal efforts. Tractors used for farming and snow plowing were new to the country — horses were the mainstay and people hesitated to even consider a machine. One of the biggest concerns for prospects was the lack of a trade-in allowance for their horses and mules, so Ziegler devised a plan with a Minneapolis horse trader that paid cash for horses.

In 1925, the C. L. Best Tractor Co. absorbed Holt Manufacturing Company to form the Caterpillar Tractor Co. Following the merger, Ziegler bought the Highway Supply Co., which handled the Holt line in the Minnesota area.

The purchase, along with the acquisition of Lange Tractor and Equipment Co. in 1937, gave Ziegler exclusive distribution of the Caterpillar line in Minnesota. Cat equipment from Ziegler was used to build the huge Ft. Peck Dam on the Missouri River in Montana during the Great Depression. It also helped send a flood of Mesabi Range iron ore down the Great Lakes to the steel mills and defense plants that helped win the Second World War. During the 1950s and 1960s, Cat equipment from Ziegler and Gibbs/Cook (the Iowa-based Cat dealer acquired by Ziegler in 1987) helped build the network of interstate highways across Minnesota and Iowa.

Today, Ziegler is one of the country’s largest Cat dealers, representing the full line of construction, paving, forestry, and mining equipment, as well as Cat trucks, generators, and industrial engines in Minnesota and west, central, and northeast Iowa.

Equipment from Ziegler helped create the modern industrial and agricultural infrastructure of the Upper Midwest during the past quarter century and will continue to be a major component of the region’s growth in the remainder of the 21st century, according to the company.

Over time, the corporate philosophy has always remained the same — if the customer is successful, then Ziegler will be successful. Sell the best equipment and provide the best service.