While buying a steam roller is very different from buying a can of soda, brand still matters. We talked to heavy equipment operators at work sites around the Chicago area to gather their opinions about construction and heavy equipment branding.
How Do Heavy Equipment Brands Compare?
Caterpillar and John Deere are the dominant brands. While competitors have multiplied and chipped away at market share, Caterpillar and John Deere are still highly regarded across many types of equipment, scrappers and backhoes in particular. Brand loyalty in this category is not as strong as it used to be. Economics is the key driver; total cost of operation on a job dominates brand evaluation.
John Deere is seen as having the best price to quality relationship and earns the affections of most of interviewees.
Caterpillar is viewed as the premium brand with that is more expensive, but usually worth the extra expense.
Japanese brands are often mentioned for specific types of equipment. Operators said that the Japanese equipment has comparable features to Caterpillar or John Deere. For certain types of specialty equipment, Japanese brands, specifically Takeuchi and Hitachi were considered superior for fine control.
Terex still has a way to go in terms of quality and durability, particularly with respect to their transmissions.
Brand Preference Factors
Operators consider a number of factors when evaluating brands including the purchase price, the cost of ownership, durability in the field, maintenance demands, the “feel” during operation, and resale value. Operators use brand as short hand when discussing the complex interplay of all these factors.
Though these products are too big to sit on a shelf, heavy equipment brands are every bit as influential as consumer product brands.