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San Antonio Family Business Celebrates 85th Anniversary

One of San Antonio's best-known family businesses celebrated its 85th birthday on the grounds of its new Southeast Side corporate campus, near Loop 410 and East Southcross, over the weekend. 

Corrina Holt Richter and her brother Peter J. Holt are the top executives at HOLT CAT, a company started by their great-great-grandfather Benjamin Holt, who, in 1904, invented what is now known as the Caterpillar tractor, Richter said.

The family got out of the manufacturing end of the business in the 1920s and now sell and service tractors through HOLT CAT, she said.

WATCH | Tractor exhibition during HOLT CAT's 85th anniversary event


The family owns the largest Caterpillar dealership in the country, she added.

"We are 2,700 employees across the state of Texas,” she said. “We are headquartered here in San Antonio. We are in a new building here on our campus. We've been here since 1954 but our building we've only been in it for a year, so that's been an exciting change."

HOLT CAT employee Tom Pfeifer cranked up the antique 1918 Holt 75, owned by the Holt family, and drove around the show site as tractor buffs looked on.

"When it comes to collecting tractors, a lot of it is searching, finding, and making the deal and then searching for parts and trying to find the rare ones,” Pfeifer said. “It's just very addictive."

CAT 120 Experimental Tractor from the 1927 World's Fair.
Credit Brian Kirkpatrick / Texas Public Radio
Texas Public Radio
CAT 120 Experimental Tractor from the 1927 World's Fair.

Kevin Pauli traveled from Austrailia to see the show and parade. He said he grew up around Caterpillars, including a D2 from the 1930s which is the smallest diesel tractor ever made by the company.

"I've worked Caterpillar machinery all my life,” he said. “I had road graders as my business and my dad bought a D2 I think the same year as I was born, so I've grown up with them the whole time."

Among the highlights of the show were a 1910-era wooden model Holt Manufacturing combine, a CAT Experimental 20 from the 1927 World’s Fair, and a Holt 120 tractor on display at the Heidrick Ag History Museum in Sacramento, California.

Brian Kirkpatrick can be reached at brian@tpr.org