While you're likely to recognize the yellow machinery dotting your neighborhood construction site, you might not know how how Caterpillar Inc. (CAT) came to earn its namesake.
What does a company specializing in heavy machinery share in common with a very hungry insect? Apparently more than you would think.
In the early 1900s, Holt Manufacturing Company sought a way to improve the mobility of its steam tractors. Benjamin Holt eventually decided to replace the wheels of the tractors with wooden tracks bolted to chains.
A bystander just happened to notice that the movement of the new tractor resembled that of a caterpillar. Agreeing, Holt named his innovation "Caterpillar."
After a trademark and a little M&A, Caterpillar Inc. was born.
Now investors are hoping the stock will blossom into a beautiful butterfly.