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In 1947 grain production was booming in the United States as farmers responded to the post war food shortages that were plaguing many countries.

Out on the prairie near the small town of Wallace, Kansas, Earnest Bertrand made plans to build a concrete grain elevator. He needed reliable power to construct the facility and reliable power to run it. He chose a Caterpillar generator set. A 35Kw model that is still in operation today, providing emergency power for a third generation of the Bertrand family business. Several years later, in the early 1950’s Dick, one of Earnest's two sons, secured a second, newer Cat gen set which is also in working condition.

Meticulous About Maintenance

So, how have three generations gotten 75 years of life from their generator set?

“My dad was an absolutely emphatic about maintaining equipment and not just engines. It was everything that we own,” says Bertrand. “If he said to grease a bearing every hour and a half, he didn’t mean every hour and forty-five minutes or two hours. He meant every hour and half! That was something we just grew up with and it was ingrained in us.”

The Blizzard of 2006

Their efforts to keep the generator set so well maintained paid off when severe weather threatened their cattle operation.

Dick’s brother Gene remembered, “It was the blizzard of 2006 in late December when we had 32 inches of snow and power outages all the way around us. Lines were on the ground and out, so we had no distribution of power.“

With the lives of more than 2,500 head of cattle at stake, the vintage generator set was called into action powering the entire ranching operation for four days while the storm raged through.

The Next Generation

While there hasn’t been as significant an event as the blizzard of 2006, still today, this vintage Cat generator set has continued to provide emergency back-up power at the family’s cattle operation.

Today, the business is owned and operated by Gene’s son Brent and daughter-in-law Shilea Bertrand. Brent and Shilea have three children and seven grandchildren.

The family cattle operation consists of a backgrounding yard, stocker business and Red Angus commercial cow-calf herd. The family also has a farm enterprise where they raise wheat, corn and roughage.

Brent says, “We will always need to have standby power on the ranch. This is a generator set that just won’t quit and that’s why our family counts on Cat.”

Caterpillar and Foley Power Solutions have been supplying American made generators to livestock and crop producers for decades. Want to learn more about how you can put a Cat generator set to work for you on your farm or ranch? Contact us today at (888) 288-2295.

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