INTERCONTINENTAL C-26 TRACTOR


| October/November 1987



Intercontinental C-26 Tractor

Cover of the Intercontinental C-26 Tractor Sales Brochure. Below, another view of the tractor from the same publication.

3955 Parkhill Road, Santa Margarita, CA, 93453

A few summers back when I was in Grafton, California helping move the tool and die shop which Bob Yonash operates for his son's company, Empire West Plastics, a tractor appeared in the yard one day, and I asked about it. The tractor itself, although unusual, wasn't particularly fascinating, but the story behind it certainly was. It goes like this:

In May of 1948 Bob Yonash was called to a meeting in the offices of a Dallas lawyer. He had previously advised the lawyer on cases involving manufacturing, and this turned out to be such a meeting. Although the country's manufacturing was getting back on track following the diversion to wartime production, there was still a pent up demand, particularly in some export markets. Harold J. Silver, a New York business man with connections in Argentina, had identified an opportunity to sell tractors there. He returned to search for a supplier.

Silver learned that Nateco, a steel foundry in Marshall, Texas had been considering a tractor design (originally conceived as a copy of the International-Harvester Model H) but based on their own front end casting, a Continental engine, and a Timken transaxle assembly. Mr Silver pushed Nateco along and helped work the paper design into a sales brochure (complete with synthetic 'performance' specifications) which he took to Argentina. The good news was that he had returned with a firm order for 3000 tractors and a letter of credit guaranteeing payment as they were delivered to dockside! The bad news was that several months had slipped by with little progress for Nateco. It was now May, and the contract required delivery by January first. Any delay and the sales would probably be lost to the established manufacturers.

Bob, beginning the next day with a trip to Nateco and then to Detroit where working drawings were supposed to have been commissioned, confirmed the 'no progress' report. He returned to his own drawing board and long sessions of round-the-clock design finishing, casting, and cash flow estimating. He turned to Texas Manufacturing Company, TEMCO, (later the T in LTV) where he had recently served as chief production engineer. TEMCO had an aircraft engine overhaul production line recently idled, and he tried to get them to bid on the tractor assembly. While they were thinking about that he was off to Continental in an attempt to get an allocation of engines from their oversubscribed production. No luck. Then to Timken for axles. Same situation, but Timken did agree to allocate an axle assembly for each engine. Back to Continental, and with a little exaggerating concerning the axles in hand, he got the same promise-an engine for each axle.

Now for production. Back to Dallas, but no response yet from TEMCO. A call to a top executive there elicited the Texas type response, 'Bob, our guys aren't sure about this deal, but if you promise me we'll make money on it we'll go ahead'. 'If you let me set up the line and pick the production foreman I'll promise it.' Next came a delicate bit of negotiating with Silver and the lawyers. Bob thought it ought to be worth a pretty fat fee to pull this deal out of the fire and turn a phoney sales brochure into a finished product with fairly high volume in 7 months flat. The 'Intercontinental Manufacturing Company', which at that point existed only in a briefcase didn't disagree, but their doubts that it could be done were apparent when they scaled back Bob' s salary request and offered him $5 for each tractor delivered on time instead.