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CNH Industrial, a century-spanning track record in Flanders

With roots in Flanders dating back as far as 1906, investments amounting to hundreds of millions of euros and another huge upgrade of one of its local sites underway, agricultural equipment leader CNH Industrial is a rock in Flanders’ business environment. Here’s why the multinational company behind major brands Case IH and New Holland Agriculture continues to up the ante in the region.

Global leader with SME roots

Listed on the New York stock exchange and with divisions all over the world, CNH Industrial can safely be called an international giant. Many of its sites, including those in Flanders, were acquired over the years. 

Our Zedelgem site, in Flanders, currently houses CNH Industrial’s global R&D center of excellence for forage harvesters, large square balers and combines. It started in 1906 as a local SME and is still located in the street named after its founder, Leon Claeys.

Tom Verbaeten
Chief Supply Chain Officer at CNH Industrial

“Through the years, our site in Zedelgem has expanded tremendously,” says Tom Verbaeten, Chief Supply Chain Officer at CNH Industrial. “Six years ago, we improved both the engineering labs and the shop floor, enabling us to provide work for 400 engineers today. We also revamped our plant layout in 2010, introducing lean concepts. And now, we’re upgrading it again, investing EUR 40 million to keep up with the market demands. We’ll be exploring new energy sources and further automation, while adding an extra 20% of machine capacity.”

Meanwhile, the CNH Industrial site in Antwerp was previously owned by Ford Tractor. Originally a production site for tractors, then tractor drivelines, it is now a component plant that delivers parts for its sister plants across the globe.

Finding fertile ground in Flanders

To provide its end-to-end services, CNH Industrial invests a lot in R&D – not least in Flanders. The region is home to one of the multinational’s centers of excellence for developing new innovations and optimizing existing products. 

Flanders has a unique ecosystem of universities, incubators, multinationals and start-ups. Paired with our skilled workforce and engineers, Zedelgem is a key site for us. The available payroll tax incentives for R&D employees are also a big help: it’s part of why we can keep so many talented engineers in-house. And this, in turn, allows us to acquire the most patents of the entire organization year after year.

Tom Verbaeten
Chief Supply Chain Officer at CNH Industrial

Once the innovative products, applications and solutions developed in Flanders are ready to conquer the world, the advantages of the region’s location also become clear. Tom Verbaeten: “Our sites are strategically located close to major ports in the region, mainly the port areas of Antwerp and Zeebrugge. Transporting our combines and harvesters is easiest by ship, and from these ports it’s also cost-effective to send them anywhere across the globe, from Italy to Australia. And of course, it’s an equally valuable transport route for resources.” 

Seeds for the future

CNH Industrial is already well established within the corporate and economic landscape of Flanders – but the company is not resting on its laurels

In the coming years, we are investing over EUR 100 million in both manufacturing and R&D. We’ll be developing new, more automated and autonomous models, aligning our production, and exploring alternative energy sources.

Tom Verbaeten
Chief Supply Chain Officer at CNH Industrial

The company’s ambitions will require plenty of fresh talent – which is why CNH Industrial has been hiring steadily, creating 200 new jobs in Flanders during the COVID pandemic. But the search for additional talent is far from over! 

Celebrating a dedicated track record

After decades of planting multiple investment seeds in Flanders, CNH Industrial received major recognition for its efforts from Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT). In 2022, the multinational took home the Lifetime Achievement Trophy at FIT’s tenth-anniversary Foreign Investment Trophy ceremony. 

“CNH Industrial can be proud of its track record in Flanders,” says Xavier Vanrolleghem, Head of Department Invest at FIT. “Meanwhile, the company is not standing still. In the coming years, it will be expanding its capacity and developing more automated machines, while exploring the use of alternative energy. As such, CNH Industrial is closely aligned with the strategic priorities of Flanders’ manufacturing industry, investing strongly in tech, innovation and sustainability.” 

More info

CNH Industrial
Reported by
Flanders Investment & Trade
13 September 2022

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