CLAAS of America intends to double its Canadian sales over the next five years, using Regina as its base.
Jan-Hendrik Mohr, executive vice-president of sales and service based in Harsewinkel, Germany, said the family-owned company has had strong success since introducing its Lexion combines to Canada about 10 years ago.
About 2,000 units have been sold at an average yearly growth of about 20 percent.
“That is driving downstream parts business, service business and so forth and now we couldn’t keep up with the demand anymore,” he said. “That is why we had to do something.”
That something is a new parts distribution and training facility in Regina’s northeast industrial area.
It will serve as the Canadian distribution centre. The company’s other North American parts centre is in Columbus, Indiana.
Mohr and other company executives from Germany, Nebraska and Saskatchewan were on hand for the official opening Aug. 29.
CLAAS has had a parts centre in the city since it began selling combines but the business outgrew it. The new location includes space to train dealers and service staff.
Torey Hadland, division manager for Western Canada, said about 300 people have already been through the centre since it opened May 1.
Mohr said the company looked at other locations but Regina came out on top because most existing CLAAS combines are in Saskatchewan and Alberta.
“Eighty percent of the parts will be supplied out of this facility,” Mohr said, up from 40 percent previously.
About 10 people are employed in Regina now but that will likely grow.
The company intends to someday introduce other products including balers and tractors.
CLAAS bought Renault’s agricultural line 10 years ago and is working on adapting the tractors for North America.
CLAAS is among the top five agricultural makers in the world with annual sales of about $5 billion and 9,000 employees.
“We are a significant player in Europe but in North America we have to learn the business of the farmers.”