Question: What is Caterpillar’s sustainable, distinguishable, and competitive edge?
Answer: Caterpillar Tractor Co.’s edge comes from its sheer span.
Supporting Case Observations:
- Span across the world
- Caterpillar (Cat) manufactures and sells across the globe so they don’t depend on domestic markets. (p. 7, ¶ 5)
- Because of this, Cat has access to foreign markets that are growing
- Demand for earth-moving equipment (EME) growing in the Middle East, Latin America, and Asia (p. 2, ¶ 5)
- Span across the market
- Full product line makes a range of products available to customers
- Caterpillar has twenty times more machines being used than its nearest competitor (p. 8, ¶ 6)
- Caterpillar strives to make high quality products (p. 8, ¶ 8), which small contractors and governments alike prefer when buying EME
- Cat has an excellent reputation, which helps them have a strong customer base.
- New companies will face difficulty entering the industry; Caterpillar management purposely hinders competition (p. 8, ¶ 1)
- Span of operations
- Diversification of products
- Caterpillar devotes resources to solar turbines, natural gas compressors, generators, and power drives. (p. 12, ¶ 3)
- This diversity allows them flexibility in the types of products they sell, giving them an advantage in the EME industry
- Because Cat assembles their products in the foreign areas that they sell them in (p. 8, ¶ 2), Cat does not have to pay as many tariffs and has easier distribution
- Cat has many dealers everywhere, and they have good relations with these dealers (p. 8, ¶ 4&5).
- Dealers are the main distribution source for EME products, so having good dealer relations is essential to good distribution.
- Training dealers means that dealers become self-sustaining (p. 8, ¶ 4&5), and a self-sustaining distribution network aids in making a sustainable market for Caterpillar
- Cat has excellent customer service, which gives them a good reputation. Having a good reputation is essential in establishing an edge in a market. 
- Diversification of products
- Strained labor relations due to lowering wages and laying people off (p. 10, ¶ 1)
- Cat does not devote its R&D to developing new technologies; if a competitor comes out with a substantially better product at a cheaper price due to technology advances, Cat will suffer
- There is apparently secrecy within the EME industry, so claims may not be substantiated and the truth may be obscured
- The rivalry with Komatsu may grow too big, and Komatsu may win. If this were to happen, Cat would lose its standing in the EME industry
 Worked with [teammates] on this case study
 School of International Business Administration, http://jpkc.uibe.edu.cn/jingpin/jpkc2003/courses/mgt213j/download/icmcase5.pdf
 See above source
 Council on Sustainable Development, Caterpillar vs. Komatsu: Four Decades of Global Competition http://theinternationalcouncil.blogspot.com/2005/08/caterpillar-vs-komatsu-four-decades-of.html