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Ziegler CAT Hosts Regional Caterpillar Global Operator Challenge

A Caterpillar 289D3 Compact Track Loader with laser levels from Sitech Northland
A Caterpillar 289D3 Compact Track Loader with laser levels from Sitech Northland
A Caterpillar D4 Dozer in action on the obstacle course
A Caterpillar D4 Dozer in action on the obstacle course
Attendees take a close look at the equipment on display.
Attendees take a close look at the equipment on display.
Equipment operators compete during the Compact Track Loader Challenge.
Equipment operators compete during the Compact Track Loader Challenge.
The Excavator Challenge features a Caterpillar 323 Excavator.
The Excavator Challenge features a Caterpillar 323 Excavator.
SHAKOPEE, MN — Caterpillar Inc. is on a quest to find the best equipment operator in the world. Local operators recently competed in regional dealer challenges, with those winners moving on to the regional finals. The winners of the regional finals will go to the Caterpillar Global Operator Challenge finals at CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2023 in Las Vegas, where one operator will be crowned world champion. More than 10,000 operators from 30 countries competed in the first-ever Global Operator Challenge in 2019-2020 — with Canadian Jaus Neigum taking home the title "best in the world" at the finals held at CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2020.

Among those regional Caterpillar dealers to hold a competition was Ziegler CAT, with competitions taking place in Shakopee, Minnesota, at Canterbury Park and Altoona, Iowa, at Ziegler’s facility. The competitions offers operators in both states Ziegler covers a chance to test their skills and go on to the global championship. Prizes were awarded for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place at each event, and a Grand Prize was awarded to the overall winner. Each participant also received a gift bag.

Three different challenges on three separate pieces of Cat equipment were held at both events. Scoring was based on the operator’s skills, efficiency, and his or her competence in using integrated technology to enhance the machine’s performance. The first of the three events was the Compact Track Loader Challenge, utilizing a Caterpillar 259 Compact Track Loader. “Operators will have to navigate our obstacle course, raising and lowering the attached grapple bucket holding a bar, without hitting any of the obstacles themselves,” said Michael Bruggeman, Event Planner for Ziegler CAT.

The second challenge was the Excavator Challenge featuring a Caterpillar 323 Excavator. “Operators will have to pick up objects including a steel plate and a carriage filled with basketballs, turn 180 degrees, and set the objects back down in a designated area," Bruggeman said. "And if you knock the balls off or drop the carriage, then you incur penalty time.”

A Dozer Challenge using a Caterpillar D4 Dozer was the third event, where operators had to navigate an obstacle course on which penalties were incurred for hitting barrels, knocking over cones, or failing in other parts of the course.

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In addition to the three challenges, there were plenty of other things offered for those attending including food, Cat merchandise, and a Cat equipment display. “We have a ride-and-drive with a grader blade on a 289D3 Compact Track Loader with our laser levels on it from our Sitech Northland division. Anyone can jump in and ride it, and it’s not part of the competition,” Bruggeman said. “There is a lot of static equipment out here as well, including one piece that we are really happy about — the 908 Hi Lift Wheel Loader. It is a brand-new machine from Cat with extended lift capacities.”

This year’s winners in Minnesota were: 1st place (and overall Grand Champion), David Gruhot with a time of 8:22.0; 2nd place, Jimmer Moses with 10:07.2; and 3rd place, Lucas Beeksma with 10:27.0. The winners in Iowa were: 1st place, Jon Thompson with a time of 9:03.0; 2nd place, Josh Keefe with 10:25.1; and 3rd place, Jimmer Moses with 11:03.0.

With more than 100 years in the business, Ziegler CAT is a family-owned company that offers construction and mining equipment. The company has 2,100 employees in 22 locations in Minnesota and Iowa, making it one of the largest Caterpillar dealers in North America. Ziegler sells and services Cat construction, paving, and mining equipment; trucks, generators, and industrial engines; and Weiler forestry products.

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