Caterpillar CEO: U.S. manufacturing on verge of 'exciting' era of innovation

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Caterpillar Chairman and CEO Doug Oberhelman recently appeared on CNBC’s "Squawk Box" with Honeywell CEO Dave Cote and said the U.S. is on the verge of a renaissance in manufacturing.

Caterpillar has a long history of innovation and using cutting-edge technology to provide customer solutions, and new breakthroughs there and at other large manufacturers could change the face of global manufacturing

“We are seeing a lot of things happening inside our factories that are really cool,” Oberhelman said. “It’s exciting."

Oberhelman’s overall message was what he said he tells employees every day: Innovation is key, now and in the future.

The Caterpillar CEO went on to say new laws and regulations around the world are another key to the promised manufacturing renaissance, as laws directly affect a company’s operations and financial future. Oberhelman told CNBC that the manufacturing sector needs pro-growth policies, including trade agreements.

“We need access to markets,” Oberhelman said. “If foreign markets are opened even further, and if the international playing field is level, we can expect even more opportunities for Caterpillar.”

Oberhelman highlighted the importance he puts on the U.S. Export-Import Bank, which he said supports the company’s customers and suppliers around the world. Failure to reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank may likely cede business to Caterpillar’s overseas competitors, Oberhelman said.

While many international economists would argue the Ex-Im Bank doesn’t level the playing field and rather gives the U.S. an unfair balance-of-trade advantage, Oberhelman said the bank is key to their business.

Purchases of Caterpillar products are often contingent upon Ex-Im Bank financing, Oberhelman said, because if customers can’t get financing from the U.S. Ex-Im Bank, they can get comparable financing from the export credit agencies in other countries, which benefits Cat’s competitors.

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