Leon Claeys started out in 1896 as a bicycle producer, but switched over later to the production and sale of agricultural machinery.
In 1906, he founded the 'Werkhuizen Léon Claeys' and by 1933 was providing employment for over 600 people. Léon Claeys developed his own diesel motors to drive the agricultural machinery.
In 1952, Louis Claeys launched the first self-driving combine harvester (the Claeys MZ) on the European market. This venture enjoyed huge success and Claeys developed into one of the biggest producers of combine harvesters in Europe. At the height of its success, the company produced 41 combine harvesters per day at its factory in Zedelgem.
In 1964, Louis Claeys sold the company to the American multinational Sperry Rand Corporation. The family used the proceeds from the sale to diversify its activities and invest in the local economy.
The Claeys family was sympathetic towards publisher Willy De Nolf and invested in Roularta. Leo Claeys became managing director. After the death of founder Willy De Nolf, Leo Claeys worked together with his brother-in-law Rik De Nolf and a dedicated management team to develop the Roularta Media group into one of the biggest publishing and media concerns in the Benelux.
In 2002, Leo Claeys withdrew from the day-to-day management of Roularta and formed the Cennini Holding, under which the family once again diversified its activities.
Today, the fourth generation is continuing the tradition of enterprise.
Coralie Claeys is CEO of furniture producer Vincent Sheppard. Henry Claeys is a self-employed artist and art director for various Cennini projects.
Edward Claeys is CEO of software company SDE and B2B e-commerce specialist Natch. Joris Claeys is COO of Cennini Holding and is managing partner at Capital@rent and Mezzanine Partners.