CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Walker Machinery and its Kentucky cousin, Whayne Supply, are now selling and servicing Caterpillar-brand underground coal mining equipment.
Monty Boyd, who owns both Caterpillar dealerships, made the announcement Thursday at Walker's Belle headquarters.
"This is truly an historic event in the life of Walker Machinery and Whayne Supply, that we have become representatives for these Caterpillar products in the territory we serve," Boyd said.
Boyd bought Walker in March 2010 from the Walker family. Walker Machinery has about 700 employees. The company has sold Caterpillar heavy equipment in western West Virginia and southeastern Ohio for 59 years.
Whayne has about 1,400 employees. The company has been in business for 99 years. It is headquartered in Louisville, Ky. Boyd, a former Caterpillar employee, worked his way up at Whayne and eventually bought the company. Whayne is the Caterpillar dealer in 120 counties in Kentucky and 16 counties across southern Indiana.
Boyd announced Thursday that his companies have formed a new division, Whayne-Walker Underground Mining, to sell and service Caterpillar underground mining equipment. He said the new division started doing business Thursday with 38 employees. Some are former employees of Caterpillar who had worked for Bucyrus.
Boyd said he wants to hire 5 to 10 more people for the new division, including some people with technical skills, some support people and some product specialists. Interested individuals are encouraged to visit the employment section of Walker's website, www.walker-cat.com
Announcement of the new division is a direct result of Caterpillar's July 2011 purchase of Bucyrus International for $9 billion. Bucyrus, a major manufacturer of underground mining equipment, had purchased several underground mining equipment companies, including DBT Mining Machinery, Terex Mining, Marion, and Work Tools, prior to its decision to sell out to Caterpillar.
Boyd said Thursday's announcement took some time coming because Caterpillar had to decide whether to operate the underground equipment business as a separate entity or integrate it into the Caterpillar brand. Another decision was whether the equipment would be sold directly by the manufacturer, as Bucyrus had done, or through Caterpillar's established dealer network.
Once decisions were made to fold the equipment into the Caterpillar brand and sell it through Caterpillar's established dealer network, the focus shifted to making sure the dealers could provide the level of service customers expect, Boyd said.
Coal represents 65 to 70 percent of the revenue at both Walker and Whayne, Boyd said. Although coal production in the eastern United States is divided almost evenly between surface and underground mining, Caterpillar's traditional product line included equipment mainly used in surface mining.