The CLAAS Journey to South America

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Historical and authentic images from the 1950s, show Helmut and August Claas on a trip to South America.  Thanks to the meticulous work of an avid and dedicated company archive employee, the world premiere of this “CLAAS Journey” was made possible.

Finding a treasure, who hasn’t dreamed of it at least as a child? For CLAAS company archivist Tomislav Novoselac, this dream became a reality last year.

At first, the treasure appeared unspectacular: about 70 film reels from the estate of Reinhold Claas were handed over to the company archive by his son Rüdiger Claas. The packaging of the films was aging, the inscriptions yellowed. A box like one you might find on eBay described as a “classic attic find.” “But I sensed that the films could have enormous value for the company. My assumption was that the films would provide many insights not only into the life of my father and my uncle Helmut but also into the growth years of CLAAS,” says Rüdiger Claas.

Rüdiger Claas was right. The content immediately sparked Tomislav Novoselac’s historical hunting instinct. And he was rewarded with a rich catch: the film reels in Super 8 format indeed provide unique insights into the life and work of the Claas entrepreneurial family. A bit scratched, a little shaky, but above all: of immense honesty and authenticity.

In a first film, the material of a trip by Helmut and August Claas to South America was processed. The two had not only big plans for the internationalization of their company but also took a Super 8 camera on their several-week ship journey to Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina. They traveled by ship, plane, car, and train for three months, covering over 20,000 kilometers in South America alone.

The tour group led by Helmut Claas (2nd from left) and August Claas (3rd from right) toured
more than 20,000 kilometers through Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina.

From today’s perspective, the archive images and footage are a gift for all CLAAS employees and fans all over the world. What is shown is nothing less than a deep look into their entrepreneurial determination and their openness to the needs of farmers on the South American continent. Here, two people wanted not to proselytize but to help master challenges – and to find new ways for their own company. The recordings make this very clear. The notes from Helmut Claas’s personal travel diary, quoted on the soundtrack, also vividly illustrate this.

Compositional drawing and itinerary of the first South American tour.

The celluloid documents the brand’s history in an authentic way, without the intervention of PR professionals and business consultants. An unvarnished look at the vision of Helmut and August Claas. Incidentally, the foundation for an economic success story was laid.

“Even during the first viewing of the material together with colleagues from the communications department, we felt that we were experiencing the spirit of the company in its purest form,” reports Tomislav Novoselac. “Looking back often helps to better understand the present. Much of what defines CLAAS today is deeply rooted in the DNA that was established back then.”

In the first “CLAAS Journey,” August and Helmut Claas take us to South America of the 1950s. We can be excited to see where the next stage of this fascinating CLAAS time journey will take us.

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