Atlantic Cat: Providing Premier Equipment Sales and Service

Atlantic Cat, an equipment distributor headquartered in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, is the largest of its kind in the Maritime Provinces. With eight locations across the region and 400 employees, Atlantic Cat owns the greatest market share in the industry and offers a wide variety of new and used equipment for sale and rent.

Atlantic Cat is a subsidiary of the Hewitt Group, boasting roots in the Maritime construction market. In the 1920s and 1930s, local entrepreneurs started buying Caterpillar products in the Maritimes to support many endeavors. Various provincially based Caterpillar dealers throughout the Maritimes supplied equipment to clients in mining, road building, general construction, forestry, shipbuilding and power generation. Today these businesses, having been combined as Atlantic Tractors & Equipment Limited in the ’90s, offer quality products and services to many of the same customers.

Jim Hewitt, chairman and CEO of Atlantic Cat and the Hewitt Group, along with Stephane Guerin, president and COO of the Hewitt Group, lead the company. Hewitt and Guerin value the help from Atlantic Cat’s team of executives, which includes Andy Hunt, vice president & general manager; Hugh Latimer, vice president of sales; Peter O’Hagan, general manager of product support; Fraser Gray, general manager of finance; and Dianne Gaudet, manager people & organization for Atlantic Cat.

Full-service Distributors

Atlantic Cat is set up to handle a wide range of equipment needs. The business offers a full line of Caterpillar equipment for sale or rent, as well as parts, accessories and service options. Locations are spread between Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, but the team distributes to a vast geographic footprint, encompassing nearly every sector across Canada. A direct partnership with Caterpillar offers Atlantic Cat benefits, such as access to products, as well as training and certification through the manufacturer.

In terms of heavy equipment, the company offers machinery for a range of applications. Loaders, excavators, material handlers and forest machines are available both new and used. The Atlantic Cat sales team is knowledgeable, allowing the team to work with clients to find the right solution for the job at the right price. These solutions can be as comprehensive as a full-component customer service agreement or as simple as a part over the counter.

Atlantic Cat’s new equipment will hold value over long periods of time, especially when maintained by one of the company’s certified shops. In addition, the company’s used equipment offers an affordable alternative to new machines, and each machine is fully serviced before it is turned over to a new owner. Atlantic Cat also offers a complete certified Cat rebuild, which entails a full restoration of an older Cat model. “When in doubt, rent a Cat machine,” says Gray. “Short- or long-term rentals are a mainstream business for the Atlantic Cat team.”

Atlantic Cat also deals in attachments, accessories and parts, creating a one-stop shop for clients looking to outfit an operation. Depending on region and capabilities, many customers choose to work with Atlantic Cat to develop a service and maintenance plan that cuts back on costly repairs and unplanned downtime.

“Our employees pride themselves on being Cat-certified technicians,” notes Gray. “Many of our employees have been here for a long time. Pretty much everything is performed in house, and the operation trains people specifically to be able to repair Cat equipment. We work closely with Cat because we’re exclusive dealers of those products.”

Reinvesting in Growth

The regional economy has slowed down, resulting in a plateau in many of the industries serviced by Atlantic Cat. “People are speculating about what could be next,” says Gray. “The Maritime and shipbuilding industry is expanding, the forestry industry will be ready to rebuild within the next few years, and if you subscribe to some of the longer term economic predictions, people are going to have to come back to farming due to the cost of transportation for food.”

The Atlantic Cat team is ready to shift focus when the economy begins to change direction. “I think in the next few years we’ll see more distribution to those industries,” continues Gray.

A large piece of the market has been in road construction for decades, as the government has been investing in infrastructure as means to boost the economy. “For us, the equipment doesn’t really change, but New Brunswick has seen an economic influx in road building for the last 25 years,” says Gray, surveying the industry. “There are no radically new types of equipment bursting onto the scene; rather, Atlantic Cat is constantly making improvements to older proven technologies.”

The most important factor in business is maintaining relationships. “Many of the companies in the maritime region are privately owned, so it’s really important to maintain relationships with suppliers and even competitors to sustain local ownership,” explains Gray. Regional business owners in many industries rely on Atlantic Cat’s expertise and wide range of equipment to keep business going.

Atlantic Cat continues to provide top service to customers in the Maritimes, serving every possible industry sector. “We’re in road construction, mining, forestry and agriculture,” says Gray. “We also supply generators for all of the hospitals in the Maritime region.”

Atlantic Cat is taking growth as it comes, as organic industry changes are manageable for the experienced team. No matter how the market shifts, Atlantic Cat is ready to sell, service, rent and support a line of equipment noted for quality, durability and efficiency.