Q&A: Closer to the Customer than Anyone Else

June 11, 2018

Dave Walton, vice president of Caterpillar Inc. and president of Caterpillar Financial Services Corporation, joins the Caterpillar Podcast to share how Cat Financial serves customers when they need it most. Also hear Dave's soul-searching moment in the This or That segment.

Tell us a bit about Cat Financial and how - different from a bank - it brings value for customers

What we do is provide financing to customers that want to buy Cat equipment.  Customers finance with us because we're convenient, because they trust that we'll watch out for them. We're there when customers need us the most - when they're just getting started, while they grow, even when natural disaster strike. But customers also expect us to be a full-fledged finance company. 

What are some early career lessons you learned with Cat Financial on working with customers?

My first 15 years I spent working with customers after the sale had been done. One of the building blocks we want all our employees that work with customers to have is a keen understanding of collections and customer service. When you're collecting, you talk to many of the same people each month; you get to know them and you develop a rapport and understanding. It's very important for us to treat customers that are having trouble, consistent with our values. There's an opportunity, even when a customer is past due, to create an exceptional experience that draws them closer to us and builds loyalty.

What types of customer does Cat Financial serve? Is it primarily larger customers?

Our portfolio is filled with customer with one or four machines. we're proud of the fact that when a customer does business with us at Cat Financial, they tend to do business with us for many years. The first-time buyers and borrowers, that's the first time that we have the opportunity to help them when they need us the most. One particular customer started out with a single used bulldozer and then grew to hundreds of machines and employ over 1000 people. Our opportunity to be able to grow with them, and our capability to grow with them because of the size and strength of Cat Financial, it all allows us to be able to help our customers grow. 

What is the relationship like of Cat dealers and Cat Financial, both serving the customer?

The dealer relationship is essential to our business model. We want them to believe that they personally will be more successful when their customer finances through Caterpillar than when they finance through a bank or pay cash. That additional touch point for Caterpillar, that opportunity to create an exceptional experience is only made when Caterpillar finances it.


Listen to the podcast to hear more from Dave Walton. Show highlights are listed in the program guide below.

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Program Guide:

  • 1:50 – Hear why Caterpillar has a finance arm in Nashville, and a separate quarterly release
  • 6:45 – From collections to president – hear what Dave has learned on his Cat Financial journey
  • 9:50 - Family undeniably influences what we become; learn how Dave's parents played a role in his story of coming to Caterpillar
  • 11:34 - THIS OR THAT SEGMENT: Hear Dave's soul-searching moment as he chooses between John Wayne and Clint Eastwood, and hockey or soccer and more
  • 14:05 – Hear how Cat Financial lends to customers large and small, when they need it most
  • 17:40 - Dave shares a story about how Cat Financial helped a customer starting with a single used dozer and grew to hundreds of machines and almost 1000 people
  • 19:00 - Cat Financial to dealers: "We want them to have confidence that their customer is in better hands with us than anyone else."
  • 20:50 - In times like natural disasters, Cat Financial focuses on ensuring the welfare and safety of their customers
  • 25:25 – Hear how Cat Financial is a leader in creating an empowered environment for employees

Listen to or read about other episodes of The Caterpillar Podcast