Doug Oberhelman Visits Loyal Caterpillar Landfill Customer

Maintaining a focus on the customer was the goal when Caterpillar Chairman and CEO Doug Oberhelman paid a visit to Indian Creek Landfill in Hopedale, Ill., in mid-October.

The landfill, located about 25 miles from Peoria, is owned by Peoria Disposal Company (PDC), which operates landfills throughout Illinois and ten surrounding states along with its affiliate, Area Disposal Service, Inc. This 123-acre site receives about 150 truckloads of waste per day (about 1,300 tons).

It takes a lot of machinery to handle that much trash and they do it with 22 Cat® machines, including landfill compactors, dozers, articulated trucks, scrapers and more. They also own eight Cat vocational trucks, which they use for waste collection.

Royal Coulter is the owner of Peoria Disposal Company and has been a friend of Oberhelman’s for about 15 years. He said that the visit sent a strong message to the nine employees who work on the site.

“I want my employees to understand that they have a voice,” said Coulter. “Their opinion about my equipment goes all the way to the top at Caterpillar. In addition, Caterpillar is a historic company that brings a lot of pride to this region of the country. How can anyone not get excited about meeting the guy who runs one of the largest companies in the world? And he cares about us!”

“I try to visit customer job sites as often as I can, and I was impressed with what I saw at Indian Creek Landfill,” said Oberhelman. “They’re a very loyal customer, and they run a very clean operation that looks a lot like a public park as you drive onto the property.

“I’m always very candid when talking to customers, and this was no exception. Their operators gave me some valuable feedback about our machines, and as I always do, I talked about the value that comes with being a Caterpillar customer.”

PDC is a family-run business that has been in operation since 1928, and Coulter said that there are a lot of reasons why they choose Cat products.

“We’ve learned a few things through all those years,” he said.

Those things include:

  • You get what you pay for. He’ll pay a little more for Cat because we stand behind our product and work.
  • Any time they need parts, their Cat dealer (Altorfer) provides them quickly—usually within 24 hours.
  • Cat Financial offers competitive terms and is flexible. If they have a new product with better terms, they’ll let PDC refinance an existing credit arrangement.
  • PDC’s Cat Access Account provides them with extra time to pay a service bill without being charged interest.
  • Whenever PDC needs an extra piece of equipment for a couple days, Cat Rental provides it right away.

And that’s not all.

“Caterpillar communicates with us like no one else, and they’ve proven that they listen time and again. They bring engineers to our facilities to see equipment in action and get our feedback, and they’ve made equipment design changes based on our critiques.”

But this wasn’t the first time Oberhelman has visited one of Coulter’s landfills. When he became Chairman and CEO in 2010, Oberhelman held his first leadership meeting at PDC’s landfill in Clinton, Ill.

“We were operating the largest earthmoving project in Illinois with about 100 pieces of Cat equipment on site,” said Royal. “At that meeting, Doug talked about putting more focus on the customer, and it made me so proud of him, my family and our business. It was a great day. What an honor!”