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The Holt family business tradition goes back to the mid-1880's in California when Benjamin Holt produced his first horse-drawn "Link-Belt Combined Harvester. Later, Holt produced some of the earliest steam traction engines.
On November 24, 1904, the first successful track-type tractor, the "Caterpillar," crawled across a California wheat field, making history every foot of the way.
Its commercial success was assured once a way to power it with a gasoline engine was found in 1908. As the company grew, Holt moved the tractor manufacturing operations to a more central location in Peoria, Illinois, where Caterpillar Inc. is still headquartered. The impact of the Caterpillar tractor went far beyond agriculture. In World War I, it fought the mud of the Western front, towing equipment for the Allied military forces and was the inspiration for the development of the British tank, which altered ground warfare tactics.
In 1925, Holt Manufacturing merged with one of its longtime competitors, Best Tractor Company, to form Caterpillar Tractor Co., consolidating the dealerships of both companies into a network of independent Caterpillar dealerships.
One of Holt's sons, William K. "Bill" Holt, established the first Caterpillar dealership in Mexico in the mid-1920s, initiating what would be a long-standing business relationship between the Holt Companies and Mexico.
In the 1950's, Bill Holt brought two of his nephews into the dealership - B.D. Holt and Holt Atherton.
In 1969, B.D. Holt and his partner Mark Hulings formed Energy Industries, Inc. to manufacture and market gas compressors powered by Caterpillar engines. As part of the Holt Companies' business strategy, Energy Industries was sold in 1993.
In 1963, Holt Atherton purchased Bill Holt's assets in the northern 40 counties of the Wm. K. Holt territory and established Holt Machinery Co. with its headquarters in San Antonio.
Peter M. Holt, B.D. Holt's son, joined the B.D. Holt Co. in 1983, later becoming Chief Executive Officer of the Holt Companies and pushing forward with a diversification program. In 1987, B.D. Holt Co. acquired controlling interest in Holt Machinery Co. and merged the two territories of the old Wm. K. Holt Machinery Co. to form Holt Cat®.

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