By Neal Morton
San Antonio Express-News
Caterpillar dealer Holt Cat will pump millions of dollars into its operations across the state, with about $10 million reserved for a long overdue expansion of its San Antonio headquarters.
Much of the investment helps Holt Cat respond to an increase in business, thanks to the Eagle Ford Shale boom in recent years. But officials also said an overall uptick in the economy has improved sales throughout Texas.
The company, which rents, sells and repairs heavy equipment in more than 100 Texas counties, plans to add a 47,000-square-foot facility at its 3302 South W.W. White Road campus to replace an outdated service shop built in 1957.
With 16 so-called “super” bays that can accommodate between 32 and 40 machines, the new building will expand Holt Cat’s existing service capacity by 40 percent. Its best feature, however, has to be the air conditioning, said Howard Hicks, vice president of public affairs.
“By having a state-of-the-art facility — especially one with air conditioning — it’ll give us a lot of advantage over other people as we compete for skilled technicians,” Hicks said. “We’re competing for workers not only within the industry but also the Eagle Ford (Shale),” the booming oil and gas play in South Texas.
“There’s a lot of competition for each and every good worker,” he added.
Hicks said the company plans to hire more technicians for its improved service shop, but he noted Holt Cat already has about 90 open positions listed on its website.
The jobs will help staff new and expanded facilities across Holt Cat’s statewide presence.
As first reported in the San Antonio Business Journal on Thursday, the company plans to invest about $77 million to build new stores and warehouses or to renovate existing ones in some of the cities where it operates as an authorized Caterpillar Inc. dealer.
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In January, Holt Cat broke ground on a $8.5 million, 38,000-square-foot facility in the Rio Grande Valley, and last month it started work on a $13 million, 52,000-square-foot store in Little Elm to serve the northern Dallas-Fort Worth market.
Construction on the new service shop in San Antonio should be complete late in the second quarter of next year, said Joe Carreon, marketing manager for Holt Cat.
Once workers move into the space, he said, the company will convert its existing facility into a specialized repair shop and larger parts warehouse.
“The economy in general is up, but with the Eagle Ford right here in our backyard, we’ve just had a lot of very positive direction in our business,” Carreon said. “As our customers have more business, they need more parts and more repairs .?.?. so we were just way due for upgrades.”
Hicks estimated that Eagle Ford development drives a full one-third of Holt Cat’s total business.
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