Cat dealer MacAllister Machinery celebrates 75th year

Marcia Gruver Doyle Pix
MacAllister Machinery’s first building on Gale Street in Indianapolis.MacAllister Machinery’s first building on Gale Street in Indianapolis.

Cat dealer MacAllister Machinery, now in its third generation of leadership, is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.

The company was founded in 1945 in Indianapolis by E.W. MacAllister, the grandfather of the current president and CEO Chris MacAllister. Following World War I, E.W. returned to his home state of Wisconsin and worked for the local county highway department. He eventually found his way to Milwaukee and worked at Drott Tractor, which became an Allis-Chalmers dealer.

In 1941, E.W. was offered an Allis-Chalmers dealership in Indiana. Four years later, he was approached by Caterpillar to become a dealer, and MacAllister Machinery was born. After World War II, demand for residential and commercial construction machinery was “off the charts,” says the company. “Initially, the new company’s greatest challenge was serving this surging need with the limited selection of Cat equipment then available (D2, D4, D6. D7, and D8 tractors; 212, 112, and 12 motor graders; and DW10 and DW15 four-wheel tractor scraper units.)”

Now with 44 locations in Indiana and Michigan, the 2,500-employee company serves the mining, construction, paving, earthmoving, truck engine, power generation, industrial, landscape, municipalities and agriculture markets. It offers new and used equipment, rental services, outdoor power equipment and operates RIG360 truck service centers. In addition to Cat, MacAllister also carries more than 80 brands of equipment, including Kubota, Exmark, Stihl, Echo and Blue Bird school buses.

E.W. (seated) and P.E. MacAllister.E.W. (seated) and P.E. MacAllister.

“If he were here today, E.W. MacAllister would be astounded at the size, nature and success of MacAllister Machinery,” says Chris MacAllister, president and CEO. “He provided an excellent foundation for the company, based in Indianapolis for 75 years, by linking up with Caterpillar and establishing a culture of treating people well and square dealing. “

One of E.W.’s sons, Pershing Edwin MacAllister -– known as P.E. or Mac — succeeded his father.  P.E. was considering a teaching career until E.W. suggested he work at MacAllister, putting him to work as a shipping parts clerk.

E.W’s health became a factor six years later, and P.E. became president in 1951 and remained board chairman until his death in 2019.

Chris MacAllister, P.E.’s son, became president in 1991. Chris lead his team to invest heavily in rentals, and began the company’s Cat Rental Stores. The company now has 25 rental locations in Indiana and Michigan.

In 2011, MacAllister bought Michigan Tractor and Machinery (Michigan Cat). The two Cat dealers retain their original business names operating under the MacAllister Family of Companies. Michigan Cat was established in 1944, and covers the lower peninsula of Michigan.

To further its growth, MacAllister Machinery is emphasizing leadership development. “It is our people, more than anything else, who are the key to MacAllister’s strength, success and longevity,” Chris MacAllister says. “With the fourth generation of MacAllisters now on board and an excellent team in place, the company has tremendous opportunity to continue growing and improving.  We are thankful for all that our teammates have done and for the confidence our customers have placed in us.”