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Caterpillar and its GCC dealers talk tactics

by James Morgan on Apr 1, 2015

The Middle East has long since been a favourite stomping ground of the international equipment community. Even so, when it comes to longevity within the Gulf’s PMV establishment, one brand stands head and shoulders above the rest.

The relationships enjoyed between Caterpillar and its Gulf dealers, Al-Bahar and Zahid Tractor, stretch all the way back to the 1950s; a time that predates the formation of the United Arab Emirates by some two decades.

Whilst local markets have altered dramatically during this period, the US manufacturer and its partners have succeeded in maintaining their presence at the forefront of the region’s equipment sector. That’s not to say that this territory has been easily held. Caterpillar has had to compete with countless challengers over the past 60 years, and this trend shows no signs of abating.

In the wake of the 2008 economic crash, Middle Eastern fleet owners adopted an altogether more cautious approach to machinery acquisition. For better or for worse, the days of Saudi Arabian contractors striking cash deals for swathes of earthmovers are fast becoming the stuff of legend. In turn, the Gulf’s equipment sector has continued to evolve.

The appeal of today’s GCC megaprojects appears just as strong as the allure exuded by the blank canvas that presented itself to Caterpillar more than half a century ago. The last decade has seen a steady stream of fresh-faced, Far Eastern manufacturers eager to grab a slice of the Middle East’s construction market, and often at knock-down prices.

“From a cost-of-acquisition perspective, there will always be cheaper options out there,” admitted Corné Timmermans, Caterpillar’s managing director for the Middle East.

“However, if you look at this cost over the life-cycle of a machine, we strongly believe that end users are better off with Caterpillar, especially when you add in the level of aftersales support provided by our dealers. At some point, all machines and engines will break down, and when they do, they need to be up and running again as soon as possible,” he said.

For Timmermans, the premium quality of his products is a given, and it’s hard to argue with this attitude. After all, a brand doesn’t build a market-wide reputation as formidable as Caterpillar’s if its products aren’t built to a high standard. If you’re looking for tangible evidence, simply check out the prices commanded by the manufacturer’s second-hand machines.

In addition to product quality, aftersales support represents an important consideration for end users. In this arena, Caterpillar relies on its regional partners to deliver a level of service befitting of the machines themselves. In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, this is the responsibility of Zahid Tractor. Al-Bahar, meanwhile, is Caterpillar’s authorised sales and service partner for the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, and Bahrain.