A Video Conversation with Janet Kirkton and Jim Mundth, Caterpillar Inc.

Posted September 26, 2018

In the dredging industry, as in any, innovation is key to progress. But branding might be even better. In terms of technology and brand recognition, Caterpillar has been at the front of their industry for decades.

With leaders like Janet Kirkton, Dredging Industry Steward and Jim Mundth, Global Dredge Segment Manager, Caterpillar seems set for smooth sailing. Janet brings over 20 years of experience in the Army and the Army Corps of Engineers. Jim’s expertise began at the Maine Maritime Academy, where he studied maritime engineering.

Janet applies her expertise towards structuring custom proposals, based on the needs of clients and a broad knowledge of available mechanical components. On the other side, Jim is responsible for marine power and propulsion, digital asset monitoring, and minimizing environmental impacts.

Both Janet and Jim will tell you Caterpillar’s greatest asset is the Caterpillar Dealer Network – whereby service and support are not limited to the site of original equipment purchase. Ultimately, Caterpillar supports a global industry by helping their clients wherever they are, whatever they need.

JANET KIRKTON: I came to Caterpillar in 2010 after serving 21 years in the United States Army. I was in the Corps of Engineers and had lots of exposure to Caterpillar equipment, at one time managing the construction fleet at Fort Leonard Wood Missouri, wondering if they had a liaison position at Caterpillar and the Army. Fortunate for me, after I retired from the Army, I was offered the opportunity to come to Caterpillar to be the Army account manager globally, to manage that strategic relationship. That was a way for me to transition away from the Army and also into my civilian role in corporate America. After serving in that role for about four years, I came over to the OEM Solutions where we create innovative, creative solutions for customers who need something just a little bit different than what our core offerings can provide. In that capacity is when I first started to pay attention keenly to the dredging industry, started to notice how our solutions really could support water-based infrastructure, and grew into my current capacity as the Dredging Industry Steward for Caterpillar.

JIM MUNDTH: I am a graduate of Maine Maritime Academy, Marine Engineering. I have a passion—I’ve always had an interest in anything related to marine vessels and maritime commerce. My journey has been wonderful so far. I joined Ashland Water Technologies; grew marine business supporting the cruise segment; had an opportunity to join Caterpillar Marine in 2008 as a key account manager focusing on key customers and critical business needs, and an approach with overall solutions with Caterpillar’s marine scope; and then more recently, over the last couple of years I’ve been leading a global dredge segment, driving innovations and solutions for customers in the overall dredge industry.

JANET KIRKTON: One of the great things about working for Caterpillar in its OEM Solutions group and now in the Hydraulic Mining Shovel Specialty Solutions Group is the opportunity that I have to leverage core product from Caterpillar’s entire portfolio but then work with industry experts such as within the dredging industry to create something a little bit different. We might use the upper of a hydraulic mining shovel, but then we would integrate it on to a vessel. In that way we are kind of master transformers in that every solution can be unique and exactly what the customer needs to be successful, and to create that distinctive advantage they’re seeking in the marketplace.

JIM MUNDTH: We have a very collaborative team. This approach to our customer base—looking at it more comprehensively, knowing that there’s a land-based application, and the overall dredge value cycle with the marine vessel assets. We’re applying our approach to collectively bring value throughout that whole dredge cycle value chain. I’m looking after the marine vessel assets, the dredge vessel assets where there is propulsion, the dry pump systems, and then getting into the digital data analytics to do monitoring and health of the system, to make sure that the operations are efficient as well as environmentally responsible and going in the safest manner. So, we work in tandem together.

JANET KIRKTON: One of the important aspects of our support to this industry are obviously our technological innovations and our ability to have a connected job site, whether that’s through our asset intelligence profiling from the vessel side or it is how we connect our equipment on the ground to one singular digital footprint. Towards that end, control and positioning—especially when you are underwater—we know is so inherently important to this industry. We’re really excited about some of the new products and innovations that our partner, Trimble, is offering through their SITECH dealerships that are connected to our Cat dealerships. It’s another example of how our Caterpillar dealers are working then on the Cat Marine side and with our technology partners to deliver that comprehensive solution, so that they can have the most accurate and effective dredging operation possible.

JIM MUNDTH: Caterpillar Marine’s global footprint—the Americas’ regional office is out of Miramar, Florida, which happens to be in between Fort Lauderdale and Miami, so I work out of that office but with a global reach from there. Activities, infrastructure, and certainly climate change—beach restoration and flooding control—all these things are happening at different places around the world. Whether it’s in Bangladesh, or in China, or Europe, or in Latin American countries, or here in the United States—North America in general—we are able to provide a coverage for those customers and activities and things that are happening there through our collaborative partnerships with our dealers, as well as our approach to customers to understand their business—the challenges that they are facing—and then brining innovations and technology to the table and for consideration how they can potentially achieve what they ultimately need to get to as a goal, with our overall solutions approach.

JANET KIRKTON: Just like here at the Western Dredging Association Expo & Summit, we have representation from our Caterpillar Marine, our land-based equipment side, as well as our Caterpillar network. Our holistic offerings to this industry would not be possible without our dealer network who provides round-the-clock products, support, and service, but also dealer financing, our extended warranty programs—they are really the execution of the vision that we see in terms of our overall support to our customers. Our dealer support network is probably our greatest strength when you look at the ability for these large dredging contractors to work globally. They know that if they have a Caterpillar engine or a Caterpillar hydraulic mining shovel they bought in this one place, they can get the part service support that they need wherever they go in the world, which is really a tremendous testament to the importance of our Caterpillar dealers.

JIM MUNDTH: And building on Janet’s points, the dredging industry is a global business and certainly our world by Caterpillar is covered by our global dealer network. They cover owner-operators, maritime consultants and design engineering firms, shipyards… But again, most importantly, they provide the relationships, the technical competency, the understanding of the customer’s business, the industry and what needs to be done—how to apply the products—and commission, and then provide a lifecycle service for those customers and operations for the lifecycle of those assets.

JANET KIRKTON: With regards to the future for this industry, our plan is to be present. We’re committed to this industry—to water-based infrastructure, global sustainability—and organizations like the Western Dredging Association allows us an opportunity to lead. This year we’re excited to join the Board of Directors, which gives us an additional opportunity to really listen to the industry: What do they need? What research and development dollars do we need to invest in order to ensure that they have the technological solutions? Whether that be on the Cat Marine side or the equipment side, whether it’s working hard to ensure that funding—policy regulation is going to be there to support this industry—or through our Cat Foundation. All of that is so that Caterpillar can support our customers to build a better world.

Connect with  Janet and Jim on LinkedIn

About Caterpillar

The history of Caterpillar is all about doing: creating, building, problem solving, innovating, testing, servicing and improving. Enjoy the ingenious machines from our rich heritage, and more importantly, the people who founded and built the company one breakthrough at a time. Beginning with Benjamin Holt and C. L. Best, the people of Caterpillar have always been – and continue to be – extraordinary.