Saxham: Farm machinery maker’s worldwide 100th anniversary celebrations are CLAAS act
PUBLISHED: 13:14 12 September 2013 | UPDATED: 13:05 13 September 2013
Staff at an agricultural machinery site at Bury St Edmunds took part in worldwide celebrations of its 100th anniversary at the weekend.
The CLAAS UK base at Saxham near Bury St Edmunds has been a familiar sight alongside the A14 for decades, and at the weekend past and current employees gathered there for the worldwide party, joining with colleagues from America in the west through to Russia and China in the east via a live internet link.
Founded by August Claas in 1913, CLAAS has grown to become one of the largest family owned agricultural machinery businesses in the world.
Today, is is headed by Cathrina Claas-Mühlhäuser, and is based at Harsewinkel in Germany. It is a multinational company, with 14 factories around the world and represented in over 100 countries with over 9,500 employees.
From its base at Saxham, CLAAS UK is responsible for sales, service and parts support for CLAAS machines throughout the UK and Ireland and is one of the leading suppliers of agricultural machinery in the British Isles.
The site also houses the CLAAS UK Academy, which is used for the regular training of service technicians from dealerships throughout the UK, but also customers on the efficient use of their new machinery. CLAAS UK also runs one of the most popular service engineer apprenticeship schemes in the UK, with over 80 students currently serving their four year apprenticeship.
CLAAS’s association with Saxham goes back to 1929, when local farmer Jim Mann and his son Bill started importing and selling CLAAS machinery. As one of the first to launch combine harvesters in the UK, they were in the vanguard of a cereals harvesting revolution, becoming official importers for CLAAS combines in the late 1940s. Today, CLAAS is the UK market leader for both combine harvesters and forage harvesters and accounts for a considerable share in the other market sectors it serves.
CLAAS employs over 100 people at Saxham, some of whom are now second generation, following in their father’s footsteps, and there is a considerable number who have been with the company for over 21 years, which is recognised each year by the 21 Club. For many, CLAAS has become part of their extended family and in addition to current employees, CLAAS UK will also be welcoming back past members of the company, with whom it maintains strong and active links.
The family ethos runs deep within CLAAS, and a highlight of the day was the coming together of the company throughout the world via a live internet link, connecting CLAAS at Saxham with the 15,000 gathering at the CLAAS headquarters at Harsewinkel in Germany and other CLAAS companies throughout the world.
Entertainment at the Saxham Family Day included a funfair, complete with a Ferris wheel, and a display of vintage and modern CLAAS machinery. As part of its commitment to other local businesses, all the food and drink was sourced from local producers, including the Old Cannon Brewery and Giffords Hall Vineyard, both from Bury St Edmunds.