Lamma 2013 will mark the start of a special year for Claas – the 100th anniversary of August Claas setting up his own engineering company in 1913.
During its 100 years in business, the firm has grown from a small acorn into the largest family-owned agricultural manufacturing company in the world, employing over 9,000 people and with 14 manufacturing plants spread across the globe.
Although the company has a turnover of €3bn and generates profits of €255m, it remains a family-run concern and is led by the next generation of the Claas family – Cathrina Claas-Mühlhäuser.
While the Claas family business that we know today was established by August Claas in 1913, his interest in machinery was sparked by his father, Franz Claas, who from a young age had been interested in agricultural technology, and in the 1880s set-up a workshop on the family farm to develop and manufacture machinery, including a highly successful cream separator and reaping and binding machines.
In the summer of 1913 August Claas decided to set up his own company, manufacturing straw balers. However, this then had to be put on hold with the outbreak of the First World War the following year.
While the Claas name is widely associated with harvesting machinery, it was August Claas' development of the simple knotter in 1921 which provided the cornerstone of the company's growth and success.
This ingenious invention revolutionised agriculture; its importance is reflected in the fact that the original patents taken out in 1921 still apply to knotters used in current Claas balers.
From balers, August Claas then turned his attention to other machinery, including harvesting machinery and looking at how to improve on the American machinery that had been unsuccessfully trialled in Europe.
This resulted in the launch of the MDB in 1936, which was to be the start of a long list of combine innovations and developments, the recently launched Lexion 780 being the latest incarnation.
When looking at the growth of Claas to becoming a major manufacturer on the world stage, Helmut Claas's name stands out.
His reputation as an engineer and innovator has been recognised worldwide.
Under his management, the Claas Group has grown and developed to be the highly successful company it is today, developing and manufacturing innovative high performance machinery.