Helmut Claas, an engineer by education and with in-depth and hands-on farming experience, has dedicated his professional life and engineering talents to agricultural crop production sustainability. He joined CLAAS in 1957, was named managing director of technology in 1962, and later became CEO. He initiated or co-designed many CLAAS innovations, including the DOMINATOR Series combine harvesters, JAGUAR forage harvesters and XERION tractors.
Much of CLAAS's success can be attributed to Helmut Claas's leadership and belief that progress comes only if companies are willing to invest in often uncharted territory for the sake of advancing equipment technology and innovation. He also recognized the importance of building coalitions, oftentimes with competitors, for the good of the industry. Under his leadership, the company has successfully established manufacturing facilities in many world regions, generating total turnover of approximately $5 billion with about 10,000 employees worldwide. Founded by his father, August Claas, 2013 marks the company's 100th year in business.
A firm believer in fostering development of the next generation, Helmut Claas established the CLAAS Foundation in 1999, which promotes education and research and development in agricultural technology and related engineering and economic disciplines.
In recognition of his contributions, he has received honorary doctorates and professorship from prestigious universities in Germany, Great Britain, Russia, Hungary and Bulgaria. His awards and other high decorations include the Profesor-Niklas-Medal of the German Ministry of Agriculture, Order of Merit of the French Ministry of Agriculture, and Order of Merit of the British Association of Agricultural Engineers.