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Ziegler CAT: 100 Years of Building Minnesota and Iowa

William H. Ziegler, founder and president of William H. Ziegler Co. Inc.
The tractor pictured, named the X-1 and completed in July 1973, was the first prototype for the D10 tractor and was only used for testing. Four X models were later completed and underwent extensive testing at the Caterpillar proving grounds. Field tests from ten pilot machines provided Cat engineers with invaluable information. The first Caterpillar D10 tractor rolled off the assembly line in early 1978.The elevated sprocket design concept proved so successful that it was incorporated into the new tractor designs. Owners were soon to realize the many economies in upkeep the unique design provided. The largest track-type tractor built by Caterpillar is the D11N introduced in 1986.
Ziegler became the local leader in GPS based-based survey, earthmoving and finish grading control systems in the early 2000s when it became a Trimble dealer.
Operators and servicemen received training in the care and operation of Caterpillar tractors at locally held “Caterpillar schools.” The William H. Ziegler Co. Inc. was an early promoter of these schools. This photo was taken in 1926 in front of the Ziegler facility at 619 Washington Ave., Minneapolis, Minn.
An REO truck hauling a Caterpillar Twenty tractor. The Twenty was the first tractor designed after the formation of the Caterpillar Tractor Co. in 1925 and went into production April 2nd, 1928. Photo taken August 1928.
A Caterpillar Sixty pulls a Russell Super Reliance pull grader with scarifier in front of Williams Arena at the University of Minnesota. In December of 1928, the Caterpillar Tractor Co. purchased the Russell Grader Mfg. Co. This purchase gave dealers like William H. Ziegler Co. Inc. the advantage of transacting business with one company instead of two.
A Caterpillar No. 12 motorgrader with V plow and wings is shown clearing a Carver County, Minn., township road after a February 1952 snowstorm. Thinking it would be a good opportunity to demonstrate the 12’s capabilities, Ziegler offered help with clearing the roads.
A Caterpillar diesel D4 tractor with a cable controlled Traxcavator loader widens streets in Richfield, Minn., in 1946. A city-owned Mack dump truck is used to haul away the fill. The D4 tractor/Traxcavator also was used for stripping gravel pits, loading gravel, moving snow and other miscellaneous jobs.
Area Caterpillar dealers displayed a variety of equipment for public inspection at the 1930 Minnesota State Fair. The display showcased Caterpillar combines, a Cat Thirty snow special, graders and Cat Ten, Fifteen, Twenty and Sixty track-type tractors.
William H. Ziegler Co. Inc. supported the war effort by sponsoring and paying for bond drive billboards located in 14 cities across Minnesota. Photo taken May 1942.
The interstate highway system was designed to be controlled access and to have a minimum of two traffic lanes in each direction with a width of twelve feet each. The right shoulder was mandated to be ten feet wide and paved. The highway itself would be suitable for traffic speeds from 50-70 MPH. These standardized building specifications demanded that vast cubic yards of material be redistributed. In this photo from the early 1960s, a Caterpillar D9G track-type tractor and Cat 834 wheel tractor-bulldozer provide assistance loading the Cat 650 three axle scraper.

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.