In 1975, Caterpillar negotiated its first contract with the People’s Republic of China since trade doors were reopened in 1972. The contract was for a sale of 38 pipelayers and replacement parts produced in East Peoria, Ill. The Chinese government invited the company to send a team to Peking, China to discuss sales of Caterpillar equipment earlier that year.
Caterpillar representatives negotiated with China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation (Machimpex), the trade organization representing the People’s Republic of China for import and export of construction equipment. Delmar R. Lammers, a Caterpillar vice president at the time, was pivotal in the negotiation and signed the order.
Lammers and his team met frequently with Chinese governmental officials in Ottawa, Canada from 1972 to 1975 to discuss Caterpillar products, parts and service. In the summer of 1975, he received a three-word Telex – ”SEND PIPELAYER EXPERTS.”
Lammers and his team met with George H.W. Bush the next morning to discuss the deal. His team then traveled to Peking where they had extensive product presentations and long discussions about prices and contracts for two weeks. During the third and final week of their trip, they negotiated the order and eventually closed the $3.8 million deal. The order included five 583 pipelayers and 33 572 pipelayers.
“We were the first Caterpillar employees to visit China in 23 years, and I was the first one to step off the plane in Shanghai,” said Lammers in a recent interview. “I was real satisfied with the order then, and it is a great accomplishment that Caterpillar has so much machinery going into China today.”
Lammers recently sent the Caterpillar gold pen, which was used to sign the order, back to Caterpillar because he said he felt it is important to preserve the company’s history. The gold pen is currently on display at the Caterpillar Visitors Center.
When asked about other accomplishments he was proud of, Lammers said, “I just celebrated my centennial birthday!” He celebrated his 100th birthday at his favorite restaurant with 175 family and friends. Lammers currently lives in Montgomery, Texas.