By Mark S. Kuhar
Caterpillar equipment has a high profile role in digging for something other than aggregate: buried treasure.
You can find a 336 excavator, 420 backhoe, D5 dozer and generator – along with a team from Cat dealer Atlantic Cat – in a supporting role on the History Channel’s number-one-rated program, “The Curse of Oak Island.”
This reality television series follows brothers Marty and Rick Lagina as they search for historical artifacts – everything from pirate booty, sunken naval treasure, Marie Antoinette’s jewels and Shakespeare’s manuscripts to the Ark of the Covenant – that some believe are buried on Oak Island.
This small, tree-covered isle is located just off the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada, not far from Atlantic Cat’s headquarters in Halifax. Earlier in 2015, Marketing Manager Colleen Richards received a call from the show’s producers, who were looking for equipment to use during season three of the series.
Convincing the leadership team at Atlantic Cat to participate wasn’t too big of a challenge. “One of our sales managers was a huge fan,” Richards said. “He’d watched every episode of every season.”
After working out the logistical details, cast and crew arrived at Atlantic Cat to choose their equipment. “They basically went on a shopping spree,” Richards said. “Once they picked out what they wanted, we delivered it to Oak Island and provided demos and operator training on site.”
In one episode, the treasure hunters pinpointed a location to explore based on a centuries-old map. Marty Lagina took the controls of the Cat excavator to perform some deep digging, while Rick Lagina stood by with the Cat dozer in case they needed to level off the ground. Later on in the show, the team used the Cat backhoe to handle more fine-tune digging.
All three Cat machines were featured prominently throughout the rest of the 13-episode season.
“Numerous times on the show, they describe the Cat equipment as ‘excellent,’ as ‘beautiful machines,’” Richards said. “They were extremely excited and appreciative about operating it.”
So was the team at Atlantic Cat. Because “The Curse of Oak Island” is filmed entirely in the Nova Scotia area, Richards said many employees were fans long before the dealership got involved in the production.
“A lot of our employees watch the show, and people were excited and proud that we were part of it,” she said. “We showed parts of the episodes at our all-employee meetings and got signed merchandise from the cast that we used in our United Way campaign.”
The series has more than just a local following, however. Nearly 3 million U.S. household viewers tune in each week – with 4.3 million watching the February 2016 season finale. That meant lots of publicity for Atlantic Cat and Caterpillar.
“We were really impressed with the show, both the way they worked with us and how the story came together as the season unfolded,” Richards said. “It was huge for us. We received tons of calls and comments from our customers and from other Cat dealers worldwide.”