"Our combine harvesters are made in China, but above all, made by CLAAS."


Dr Chen, you studied for your first degree and doctorate in Germany. What insights have you brought from your studies to the Gaomi factory?

I studied electrical engineering and I also wrote my PhD thesis on this subject. During this time I acquired a love of detail and structures. At the same time, I learnt to deal with problems systematically and not to lose sight of the bigger picture. The 'two-tone' approach has stayed with me throughout my career. In Gaomi too, I place great emphasis on this way of working. Our customers demand the highest standards from us. And since we are in China, we often have to even exceed these standards to convince them of our worth.

Dr Xi Chen

was born in Wuhan. At the age of 20, he came to Germany to study. After completing his doctorate in electrical engineering, he worked for many years in the German automotive industry. He was appointed General Manager of the CLAAS factory in Gaomi in the 2020.

How many machines does the Gaomi factory produce annually?

We currently manufacture around 700 machines a year, mainly combine harvesters. Our models include the H80, D370 and D260. The H80 accounts for the lion’s share of production and is mainly for the Chinese market. The other models are also exported to Uzbekistan, Argentina, Saudi Arabia and Africa. We also supply components to other production plants through CLAAS Industrietechnik. We are currently working on a third area, but that is still confidential.

What can other CLAAS production plants learn from Gaomi?

In my view, what sets many Chinese people apart is our great flexibility. We are always willing to learn something new and to adapt. For example, at the start of the Covid 19 pandemic our training Academy team – in the middle of a national lockdown – responded extremely quickly. Within three days, colleagues had converted the seminar programme from off-line to online. This meant that we could train staff and dealers who were working from home during lockdown.

Which developments in recent years are you particularly proud of?

I have only been General Manager for one and a half years. But I am very satisfied with the way we have developed our products. In 2014 CLAAS entered into a joint venture in Gaomi. At the time, the plan was to manufacture mass-produced products for the Chinese market in collaboration with a Chinese affiliate. In recent years we have moved away from this idea and now produce CLAAS machines and components in China. Colleagues in Harsewinkel recently told me that the parts we supply are better than those of many German suppliers. That made me very proud.

In your view, what lies ahead for the Gaomi factory?

Our factory will be integrated even more closely into the company's overall production network. I think this is crucial. Combine harvesters and components are made in China, but above all, made by CLAAS. I'm certain that every customer will be clear about this in a few years’ time.