In 1921, the “knotter” was patented as a device designed to create perfect knots. Over the next 90 years, the knotter would go on to become the hallmark of CLAAS.

Later in the decade, the company expanded to the fertilizer spreader before entering the combine harvester market.

Manufacturing of combines began in 1936 and has become a staple of CLAAS. Since the first combine rolled off the line, CLAAS has sold over 440,000 units worldwide.

In fact, the 450,000th combine is scheduled to drive off the LEXION production line in Omaha, Nebraska, this spring.

As productivity and demand grew, CLAAS expanded beyond the borders of Germany. In 1958, a plant was constructed in Metz, France, to produce balers. The first reciprocating plunger balers were built in 1961, and the first sliding plunger balers were manufactured in 1967.

More than 280,000 balers have been assembled at the Metz facility in the last six decades.

CLAAS took a step in tractor development with the 2003 acquisition of French manufacturer Renault Agriculture. In 2008, CLAAS fully purchased Renault. The French workforce accounts for nearly a third of all CLAAS employees.

While European expansion was taking place, CLAAS was also focusing on reaching the American market. CLAAS of America was founded as an import and distribution firm in 1979 in Columbus, Indiana.


The company became a market leader in the sales and services of the JAGUAR forage harvester. During the late 1990s, a new factory for the production of LEXION combine harvesters was built in Omaha, Nebraska.

Today, CLAAS maintains 11 production facilities around the globe. Along with four facilities in Germany, the seven plants are spread out from Hungary to India and from Argentina to Russia.

All told, CLAAS employs more than 9,000 workers worldwide.

Under the guidance of second- and third-generation CLAAS family members, Helmut Claas and his daughter Cathrina Claas-Muhlhauser, the company has stayed true to its roots as a family-run business.

They have seen CLAAS become the fourth-largest agricultural equipment manufacturer in the world and a global market leader in the production of self-propelled forage harvesters.

As CLAAS enters its 100th year as a family-owned agricultural manufacturer, the company is releasing a book chronicling the past century of innovation. The 400-page book is titled “100 Years of Harvesting Excellence” and will be available in bookstores this spring.  FG

—From CLAAS news release