CHICAGO, Oct. 9 (Xinhua) -- "China is important to Caterpillar's global success," said Ramin Younessi, a group president of the U.S. manufacturer, in a recent written interview with Xinhua.
Caterpillar sold 38 pipe-layers to the China National Petroleum Corporation 40 years ago and started business in China.
"We established our first manufacturing site in Xuzhou to build hydraulic excavators because it's critical for us to be close to customers and to manufacture in the region," said Younessi, who is responsible for Caterpillar's Construction Industries Group.
In the 1990s, Caterpillar only had five suppliers in China. Now the number has skyrocketed to about 400. Some of the suppliers have gone global, serving not only Caterpillar, but other manufacturers around the world.
"We have strong R&D, supply chain, operations and product sales and support in China," Younessi said. "We saw the need from Chinese customers for high-quality construction equipment as the country's economy continued booming."
Younessi told Xinhua that Caterpillar's strategy in China emphasizes local leadership development, end-to-end business model establishment, long-term sustainable growth, and corporate citizenship.
For years, Caterpillar has been upgrading manufacturing facilities in China, in a bid to make them leaner, more efficient, focused on high safety standards, more digitally advanced and more sustainable.
The Illinois-based construction and farm machinery maker is also investing in digital technologies to upgrade its service offerings in China.
It launched its first e-commerce retail platform to address the growing demand of Chinese customers at an international exhibition of construction machinery in Beijing in early September.
"Chinese customers are advanced in digital applications, and we see rising interest in digital services," said Younessi.
The 94-year-old company is ranked 58th on Fortune's 500 List in 2019, with its 2018 revenues totaling 54.7 billion U.S. dollars, a year-on-year increase of 20 percent, and profits rising more than 700 percent to 6.15 billion dollars.
Now Caterpillar has about 20 facilities and more than 10,000 employees in China. "Caterpillar is proud of our more than 40-year history in China," said Younessi.