Friday, 29 January 2021 09:55

Helmut's last harvest

Written by  Mark Daniel
Former chairman and managing director of Claas Group Helmut Claas recently died aged 94. Former chairman and managing director of Claas Group Helmut Claas recently died aged 94.

Helmut Claas, long-time managing director and chairman of the CLAAS group, has died at the age of 94.

Claas was born in 1926 in Harsewinkel, Germany, to parents August and Paula who managed a small agricultural machinery firm with a workforce of around 100. After completing an apprenticeship as a machine fitter, then some practical experience in metalworking firms, Claas joined his parents’ family firm in Harsewinkel in 1958.

In 1962, he became managing director and pursued a special focus on developing pioneering products and mass-producing them economically. During Helmut Claas’ era, the successful Dominator combine harvester – followed by the completely new Lexion, which is today said to be the most efficient combine harvester in the world, were developed. Also, the Jaguar forage harvester and the large tractor Xerion were developed under Helmut Claas.

In 2003, he succeeded in taking an important step towards the company’s future by making it a long-line supplier, when CLAAS took over the complete tractor business from Renault Agriculture in France.

Helmut Claas oversaw the company’s greater internationalisation with the establishment and expansion of production sites in Russia, the USA and China.

He was also a farmer, running a farm in East Anglia in Great Britain, where he spent time with his wife Erika and enjoyed keeping in touch with farmers in the neighbourhood and indulging in his passion for hunting.

Moving forwards, the Claas Group will be steered by his daughter, Cathrina Claas-Muhlhauser.

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