Helmut was all 'claas'. Loss of farm machinery legend

Sad passing of 'claasy' icon of global farm machinery industry

Machinery
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Farm machinery innovator and head of the Claas Group, Helmut Claas, has died aged 94.

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ALL CLAAS: Farm machinery innovator and head of the Claas Group, Helmut Claas, has died aged 94.

ALL CLAAS: Farm machinery innovator and head of the Claas Group, Helmut Claas, has died aged 94.

Helmut Claas, a towering figure in the global farm machinery industry, has died, aged 94.

He was the long-time managing director of Claas which started in 1913 as a small family-owned farm machinery manufacturing business in rural Germany.

The company is still family-owned but is now a global powerhouse in the farm machinery sector.

Helmut Claas was born in 1926 in Harsewinkel, Germany, where his parents, August and Paula Claas, were involved in the family's small agricultural machinery firm.

After leaving school he did an apprenticeship as a machine fitter and then worked in a number of metalworking and casting firms.

After studying agriculture in Paris, he took over the planning and establishment of a Claas distributor in France which now operates as Claas France SAS.

Mr Claas joined his parent's business in the German town of Harsewinkel in 1958 and was appointed managing director four years later.

He helped to steer Claas into becoming one of the world's leading agricultural machinery manufacturers with a focus on innovation and mass production.

Mr Claasy oversaw the development of the Dominator combine harvester (1970), Jaguar forage harvester (1983), Quadrant square baler (1988), Xerion tractor (1993) and Lexion combine harvester (1995).

In 2003 Mr Claas managed the company's acquisition of Renault Agriculture's tractor business in France.

Other achievements included the establishment and expansion of production sites in Russia, the US and China.

In 2013 he was inducted into the Hall of Fame of American Equipment Manufacturers.

Four years later he was awarded the Rudolf Diesel Medal - dubbed the 'Oscar for Inventors' - for his lifetime of achievement in innovation and entrepreneurship.

He also operated a farm in East Anglia in England for many years and often visited there with late wife, Erika.

Their daughter, Cathrina Claas-Muhlhauser, now chairs the Claas Group supervisory board.

The company employs about 11,400 workers worldwide and reported a turnover of about 4 billion euros in 2020.

Chairman of JCB, Lord Bamford, was among other machinery industry leaders who paid tribute to Mr Claas.

"Helmut Claas has been a very important figure in the agricultural machinery business for more than six decades," he said.

"A passionate farmer and engineer, the worldwide agricultural industry is going to miss him tremendously but we can take some comfort in the fact he has left the business in a very strong position and in the very capable hands of his daughter Cathrina."

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