From Kristin Bromley Fitzgerald, President
Giles & Ransome was founded in 1916 by Arthur Giles and my great-grandfather, Percy Allan Ransome, Sr. In the early years, the company sold primarily concrete mixers and pavers and was located at 17th & Sedgley, then later on Allegheny Avenue in Philadelphia. In 1932, we became a Caterpillar dealer and soon expanded our market presence and moved to a new location on Hunting Park Avenue, next to the former Tasty Baking facility. In fact, the historic neon sign on top of the parts warehouse of our Bensalem headquarters was originally located at our Hunting Park Ave. facility.
In 1935 Arthur Giles died and his share in Giles & Ransome was purchased by the Ransome family, however, the name was not changed out of respect for his contributions.
Over the years the business grew, and P.A. Ransome’s three sons became involved in the business. Eventually, the second generation assumed leadership positions and P. Allan Ransome, Jr. became President of Giles & Ransome and Ernest L. Ransome, III became Executive Vice President. Dawson Ransome became Vice President of Sales but, after a few years, left the company and founded Ransome Airlines, which at the time it was sold in 1986 was the world’s largest commuter airline.
By 1960, the company had grown to the point where it was necessary to move from our Philadelphia location. The decision was made to construct our current Bensalem facility in what was then Cornwells Heights. Over the years, as our business has grown and the types of products and services we offer expanded, we have added to our Bensalem facility. Currently, our Bensalem headquarters is about 200,000 square feet in size and is located on approximately 110 acres overlooking the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Our corporate administration is located there, as well as our main parts warehouse, which contains about 50,000 line items. Also located in Bensalem, is our Equipment Management Solutions center; oil lab; our main sales, service and rebuild facilities; as well as the management of our construction, engine, and rental divisions.
I thought I would now spend a few minutes and explain what it means to be a Caterpillar dealer. Caterpillar is the world’s leading manufacturer of construction equipment and engines. Their products are sold exclusively through a network of less than 200 dealers worldwide. There are currently, in North America, approximately 50 families that own Caterpillar dealerships. As I mentioned earlier, the Ransome family became a Caterpillar dealer in 1932 and the territory for which we have sales & service responsibility…for the entire Caterpillar construction and engine product line…is Southern New Jersey, New Castle County, Delaware, and Southeastern Pennsylvania; which includes the Philadelphia region, as well as the Lehigh Valley and Reading areas.
Most Caterpillar dealers have been owned and managed by their family for generations. There is a reason for this. Caterpillar, which is based in Peoria, Illinois, is a world-class manufacturer with a strong Midwestern culture that believes in establishing and nurturing long-standing relationships with its dealers…who are the exclusive distributors of their products. As a result, Caterpillar takes a very active role in dealer continuity planning, as well as plays a key role whenever a dealer is not performing up to their standards of customer service or quality.
I am proud to be a Caterpillar dealer. I am proud to be one of the larger, family-owned businesses in the Philadelphia area, and I am excited about the future and the strategic direction we are headed.
Click here to view an article about our Company History published by Construction Equipment Guide on October 2, 1996.