Caterpillar is a smokestack company, located smack in the middle of America, in Peoria, IL., and when its big bulldozers are pictured in the popular media, they are apt to be shown pushing down trees, or mining coal or knocking over homes in the Gaza Strip or West Bank.
But this industrial giant has begun a journey towards sustainability, as I learned when I spent a day or so in Peoria earlier this week moderating a panel. (Not about Caterpillar, for the most part, but about the city and its efforts to become more sustainable.) I had a chance to meet some Cat executives, and they seem truly engaged by environmental issues. So I took a look at what the company is doing in today’s CNNMoney column.
Here’s how it begins:
Will it play in Peoria?
Since the days of vaudeville, entertainers, politicians and business people have come to this mid-sized midwestern city, halfway between Chicago and St. Louis, to take the pulse of middle America.
Towering over the city is Caterpillar, Peoria’s biggest employer. An 82-year-old industrial giant with $41.5 billion in 2006 revenues and 95,000 workers, Caterpillar makes “big iron” – mining, construction and road-building equipment, diesel and marine engines, and gas turbines, among other big-ticket items.
This is not, in other words, a company where you will find a bunch of tree-huggers. Even so, here are the headlines that jump out when you open Caterpillar’s just-off-the-press 2006 Sustainability Report:
Rapid population growth.
Limited natural resources.
No simple solutions.
You can read the rest here.