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Carolina Cat Returns to Roots With New Salisbury, N.C., Branch

Thu September 14, 2023 - Southeast Edition #19

Neil Carbaugh (L) of Carolina Cat and Ed Weisiger, chairman Emeritus, Carolina Cat, stand in front of a photo of the team from the early days in the original Salisbury location.
(CEG photo)
Neil Carbaugh (L) of Carolina Cat and Ed Weisiger, chairman Emeritus, Carolina Cat, stand in front of a photo of the team from the early days in the original Salisbury location. (CEG photo)
Neil Carbaugh (L) of Carolina Cat and Ed Weisiger, chairman Emeritus, Carolina Cat, stand in front of a photo of the team from the early days in the original Salisbury location.
(CEG photo) Aaron Adams (L) of Carolina Cat goes over the simulator with Nick Hayes, city of Lexington, N.C., Water Resources. The simulator was set up as a Cat D8T and can also offer training on excavators, small wheel loaders, artic trucks and motor graders. The mobile simulator has two operator stations for greater flexibility.
(CEG photo) Cooking the bratwurst, hot dogs and burgers are Carolina Cat chef’s Josh Hartsell (L) and Tyler Clontz.
(CEG photo) The facility has many Cat compact machines in stock ready for rent or sale.
(CEG photo) Carolina Cat also offers allied products for customers’ rental needs.
(CEG photo) Robert Simcox of Land Clearing Solutions in Mt. Ulla, N.C., receives assistance from Alexis Ritchey and Kelsey Schauf, both of Carolina Cat.
(CEG photo) Liz Hayes (L) and David West, both of the city of Lexington, N.C., were presented a gift certificate for $100 off their next rental with the Cat Rental Store in Salisbury from Kelsey Schauf, Carolina Cat.
(CEG photo) Ed Weisiger (L) catches up with Karl Arthur of K.W. Arthur & Son in Salisbury.
(CEG photo) On hand to answer questions on Trimble machine control (L-R) are Tracy Skipper, Chad Love and Jeff Hasenmayer, all of Sitech Horizon.
(CEG photo)

Charlotte-based Carolina Cat, with locations across western North Carolina, has gone back to its roots by opening its 10th store in the town of its origin.

The new location, at 101 Mooresville Rd., just off Interstate 85 in Salisbury, is part of Carolina Cat's plan to expand its reach across the region to better serve its customers.

In doing so, Carolina Cat recognized a bit of the dynamic 21st century company's early history this past April by returning to where the business was formed in 1926 as Carolina Tractor & Equipment.

Eventually, as the dealership became more successful and continued growing, it outgrew its first Salisbury location and established its headquarters in Charlotte, where three of its total number of branches also operate.

Its other stores are in Asheville, Boone, Dillsboro/Sylva, Hickory, Monroe and Greensboro.

Salisbury Strategically Located On I-85 Corridor

In mid-August, Carolina Cat celebrated its reappearance in Salisbury by holding its third "Burgers in the Bay" event at the store to welcome both new and current customers.

A temporary location until a permanent building can be built, the Salisbury store is geared toward its Cat Rental, compact equipment and parts businesses, according to Neil Carbaugh, Carolina Cat's vice president of rental services and compact construction equipment.

He added that with the store being close to I-85, it can easily be supported by the larger Carolina Cat parts hub in Charlotte to the south, and secondarily from the Greensboro store to the north. As a result, customers can get parts for any machine, typically within 24 hours. Via the interstate, the Salisbury facility is approximately 50 mi. from each of the other two dealerships.

According to the company, the new Salisbury location was built to include:

  • New and used compact equipment, as well as sales and financing.
  • A space for customers to rent top brands of aerial, compaction, traffic control, material handling, compressed air, and concrete equipment and attachments.
  • Access to the largest and newest earthmoving rental fleet in the state.
  • Four service bays to support both rental and customer-owned compact equipment.
  • Experienced parts personnel to support all customer ordering needs.
  • A stocked parts warehouse and daily shuttles from Carolina Cat's main warehouse in Charlotte to minimize customer down time.
  • A showroom displaying a wide variety of hand tools, consumables, and novelty items.
  • Cat and non-Cat hydraulic hose-building capabilities.

"This is a great store for supporting the compact customer that owns equipment as well as anything else that we carry in the rental fleet — anything from a plate tamp, to a scissor lift, to a 100,000-lb. excavator can be obtained from this location," Carbaugh said. "The excavator may not be housed in Salisbury, but it can be dispatched from here."

Carolina Cat's rental fleet is divided almost equally between Caterpillar equipment and those from other brands, Carbaugh added.

"We carry all the things that you would expect to get from any national rental company," he said.

Larger Branch to Be Built in Next Few Years

Carolina Cat's return to Salisbury was planned to take advantage of the dramatic growth there and in other towns along the interstate in central North Carolina, according to Carbaugh.

The communities of Concord, Kannapolis and China Grove, all between Charlotte and Salisbury, have seen rapid development in recent years, as have the cities of Lexington, Thomasville and High Point, located along I-85 from Salisbury to Greensboro.

The new Salisbury branch currently operates out of a building that used to serve as a Food Town (now Food Lion) supermarket, the second such store ever built following the grocer's founding in the city in 1957.

"This was an easy way for us to get into Salisbury much more quickly before finding land and getting permits to build a brick-and-mortar facility, which is what we are eventually going to do," Carbaugh said. "It is a good way to start getting back to where everything began for our company."

Carbaugh said that prior to Carolina Cat's move to the building, it had been home to another equipment rental company for 20-25 years, proving, he said, that it could work for Carolina Cat on an interim basis.

Carolina Cat's plans for Salisbury include opening a larger, permanent facility that Carbaugh said would be "purpose-built to best serve our customers' needs. We would just transition from this location at some point in the next three to four years to a building that can better accommodate greater capabilities."

With the temporary Salisbury facility now open and flourishing, Carolina Cat can concentrate on identifying other possible branch locations in the region to extend the footprint of its equipment sales and rental operations.

When asked if those facilities would simply be rental stores or full-service locations like those in Greensboro and Charlotte, Carbaugh said, "We are still doing some business planning for that, but for right now, the idea is for them to be full-service branches in the Winston-Salem and Gastonia areas."

Proud Tradition of Service to Western N.C.

In 1929, three years after the founding of Carolina Tractor & Equipment (CTE) — now the Weisiger Group — its owners were told by Caterpillar that they could not be both a building contractor and a distributor of Cat machines at the same time, meaning they had to sell the distributorship, according to Ed Weisiger Sr., the now retired chairman emeritus of today's Carolina Cat.

"Caterpillar went to my dad, [L.M. Weisiger], who had a dealership in Asheville and a territory that included everywhere west of the Catawba River," he said. "Dad gave [them] $60,000 in 1930 to be paid over two years for the business, and that's what it took to get the Weisigers in the Carolina Tractor business."

Over the next nine decades, Carolina Cat powered its way through the effects of economic depressions, recessions, wars and other market turbulence to establish itself as a well-run business that continues to grow in prosperity, a fact that instills immense pride in Ed Weisiger Sr., who started working for the family business as a young man about 70 years ago.

Today, the company is under the guidance of his son and third-generation leader, Edward Weisiger Jr., who serves as chair and CEO of Weisiger Group (the parent company of Carolina Cat), and Mike Tropsha, senior vice president and general manager of Carolina Cat.

The elder Weisiger said that the company has always tried to invest as much of its profits as it could back into the business and worked hard to treat its employees like family.

"My father started the company with 16 employees, and now we have about 2,000," he said. "You take care of your customers, and your customers will take care of you. There are a lot of families around Carolina Cat for us to feed, and we take pride in that."

As the 100th anniversary of Carolina Cat approaches in three years' time, the Weisiger family's wise decision making, and financial stability is undoubtedly why the company has literally stood the test of time. CEG

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