|Hydro. New dozer (above) follows tranny trend. Artic (bottom), swings into service.|
Case Construction Equipment is rediscovering itself. The historic brand of CNH Global N.V. is starting to update its equipment lines and “soft” services, with hopes to retake market share lost since its 1999 merger with New Holland.
Expanding services is on the radar. “Building the brand isn’t just about selling the equipment,” says Jim Hasler, the newly-appointed vice president of Case Construction Equipment, North America. “It is the support side of the equation that is going to cause the customer to come back.” After some reshuffling last September, Jim McCullough, the former North American chief of Lake Forest, Ill.-based CNH, now has exclusive control of Case, with Hasler in charge of building the brand.
Racine, Wis.-based Case is moving up to speed with extended warranties for new and used models that it hopes will attract more contractors with large fleets and bolster resale values. The desire to roll more machines into rental facilities also is a goal. It continues an aggressive line of financial services, including seasonal zero-down, no-payment deals, while prices remain competitive.
New this year are a dozen machines, each stressing emission reduction, operator comfort, low operating cost and ease of maintenance—the cornerstones of modern machinery. An expanded line of articulating dump trucks has unique maintenance features, such as swing-out fenders that ease brake service and tire changing. Case also adds to the family two compact track loaders—a popular new breed of machine—as well as a 70-ton excavator and six wheel loaders.
Also new is the 1150K, a 118-hp crawler tractor that replaces the 1150H. It is Case’s first to use a hydrostatic transmission combined with drive-by-wire control. ENR took one for a spin last month at the “Customer Experience Center,” Case’s corporate retreat and proving ground in Tomahawk, Wis. Designed for medium-duty grading, the 1150’s electronic blade was extremely responsive. List price: $155,000.
Hydrostatics, which offer more feathered control over mechanical transmissions, are now standard on many small dozers. “If you don’t have these operator comforts, you start to lose some of these customers,” says Jim Hughes, Case marketing manager. The downsides, others argue, are more delicate moving parts to break. “I think Case said: ‘If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,’” notes R. Dale Vaughn, president of dealer OCT Equipment in Oklahoma City.
The manufacturer’s last major rollout was in 2002, when it launched 27 new models (ENR 2/18/02 p. 23). It has since slipped from second to third place in the popular loader-backhoe category. The line has had a strong military demand and following among small fleet owners, but Deere & Co., Moline, Ill., has moved up as the second-largest domestic producer.
Deere is one of Case’s biggest threats. While new designs like the 1150K will help Case compete on the small dozer side, dealers say the firm needs to refresh its loader-backhoes and stress their unique maintenance features. Traditional boom styling and long-life bushings are kingpins of Case loader-backhoes, which have been among the top sellers since introduced in 1957. They were last updated in 2000 with the M-Series.
Dealers applaud this year’s mix but complain that they still lack key products, such as telescopic handlers. After discontinuing models supplied by other producers, Case is said to be unveiling its own version next year.