"A mixture of pride and trust."


In an interview, site manager Etienne Bourasseau explains how the tractor factory in Le Mans has evolved – and as a farmer's son, what connects him to CLAAS.

Mr Bourasseau, you have worked at the Le Mans site for almost 20 years. How has the factory evolved in this time?

The factory has undergone a total transformation. The infrastructure has been completely renewed. We have also changed the assembly and inspection process to accommodate new product technologies and meet the high standards of our international customer base. In addition, our colleagues have further honed their skills to deal with existing and future challenges. All this has created a very dynamic atmosphere. To put it simply, we are a world away from where we were 20 years ago.

Etienne Bourasseau, 45

was born in a small village in the Vendée region of Western France – one of the best places in the world, in his view. Apart from a two-year break, he has worked for CLAAS in Le Mans since 2003. He was appointed site manager in 2019.

Which tractor models are produced at the factory?

Here in Le Mans we produce five different series with outputs ranging from 72 to 460 hp, from the three-wheel AXOS 300 to the AXION 960TT. This range demonstrates that our workforce is able to respond to any market demand. You see, every tractor here is made to order. Satisfying the exact requirements of our customers – that's where our strength lies.

How do you like working for a German company – and for CLAAS in particular?

The Franco-German relationship is quite special: when you bring together German discipline and French flexibility, great things can happen. As a farmer's son, I have a very close relationship with CLAAS. I remember as a child how exciting it was to watch a huge CLAAS combine harvester mowing the fields on our 50 hectare farm. For me, CLAAS is more than a brand, it's a special bond between the machine manufacturer and the farmer – a mixture of pride and trust.

The "CLAAS Forth" Industry 4.0 initiative was rolled out in Le Mans from 2017 to 2020. How did the project go?

Very well. CLAAS Forth restructured the factory and established a new workplace culture which is simpler and more efficient – along the lines of lean manufacturing. The initiative's main strengths were project management and the involvement of the workforce. Every step of the project was guided by the internal team and employees participated in many areas. This generated high levels of engagement and acceptance on the part of the workforce, as well as several really practical ideas. We are all extremely happy with the results.

What makes you proud?

I am proud to be a member of the CLAAS tractor team and to play a part in shaping the corporate culture within the Le Mans factory. I have seen for myself how the workforce and their skills have continuously expanded in recent years. We are constantly striving to improve the factory and the tractors. That demands a tremendous amount of energy. And I am amazed when I think of all the projects still in the pipeline. I'm already looking forward to seeing the changes that will take place in the next five years.