The town of St Valentin is the home of Steyr tractors and headquarters of Case IH in Europe. The town is located in the upper middle part of Austria, confusingly described as “the most westerly town in the district of Amstetten in (the province of) Lower Austria within Austria”. The population is around 10,000.

Steyr and latterly Case IH Tractors have been produced at St Valentin since 1947. Tractor production was moved there from the city of Steyr, a little over 20km away, after World War II. Steyr moved into the remnants of what had been an extensive tank production facility during World War II.

Part of the CNH/Fiat family, Steyr was taken over by the Case Corporation in 1996. In 1999, Case IH and Steyr were added to Fiat’s growing agricultural family, which already included New Holland.

Today, all three brands are all part of CNH (Case-New-Holland) Industrial. CNH Industrial also includes numerous other Fiat family members, such as FPT-Fiat Power Train, Iveco and Magirus, plus several other truck and bus divisions.

Tractor brand identities perhaps became a little blurred in the early years when the family grew to include Case IH, Steyr and New Holland. The UK remained New Holland’s (and Ford’s) traditional home, while Case IH’s European headquarters was relocated to St Valentin in 2006.

Steyr ceased to be available in Ireland at the end of the production of the Steyr 9100 series (larger Case IH CS) in 2004. Up to that point, Steyr products were imported into the Republic of Ireland by Alfie Spencer of Springmount Tractors, Gorey, Co Wexford. The brand was handled in Northern Ireland by Timothy McFarland, T McFarland Agri, Fintona, Co Tyrone. Springmount became a Case IH dealer after its Steyr era came to an end.

St Valentin today

Tractors have been produced at St Valentin for nearly 70 years. It is one of 64 CNH Industrial plants worldwide, producing 12 brands and employing a total of 69,000 staff. It operates a world-class manufacturing system similar to that used by some of the auto industry.

This system enables the sustainable and continuous optimisation of all business processes by monitoring, checking and revealing potential for improvement in areas such as quality, safety, personnel development, logistics and each individual working step throughout the whole company.


In one word, St Valentin is modern, in every aspect of its manufacturing, management and training processes.

The factory floor is unrecognisable from what it was on a previous visit around eight years ago. Then, it was dark and a little old-worldly. Today, it is very bright and modern.

At that time, the factory also built New Holland TTV versions of its original Steyr CVT and Case IH CVX tractor. For a while, there were two different variants of continuously variable transmission – the original Steyr-based unit built by ZF, and the newer in-house unit used across CNH brands today.

Production is much simpler today at St Valentin. Just two brands and 18 different models are produced in Case IH and Steyr colours.

The factory builds tractors from 85hp to 230hp across the two brands. Approximately 10,000 tractors are produced at St Valentin per year. Approximately 70% of these are Case IH-branded and 30% Steyr-branded tractors.

There are 640 people employed directly at the factory, with the firm estimating that its facility accounts for another 3,500 jobs in the region. Approximately two-thirds of those directly employed work on the factory floor. Of those, approximately 70% are from a farming background, typically farming around 20ha (50 acres).

Sporting Austria’s national colours, it is no surprise that Steyr is number one in tractor sales in Austria.

Matthew Foster

Wherever you travel in the world, chances are that you will run into someone from Ireland. Based at Case IH’s headquarters in St Valentin, is one such man, Matthew Foster. Matthew is current vice-president of sales and marketing for Europe, Africa and the Middle East for the Case IH and Steyr brands.

After his studies, Matthew joined Ferrag in the UK, a company active in the fields of electrical equipment and engineering and importer of agricultural machinery, as sales technician.

Between 1985 and 1987, he gathered extensive teaching experiences as lecturer at the Welsh Agricultural College in Aberystwyth, Wales.

After a spell at Kuhn-Huard in Chateaubriant, France, Matthew joined Case Corporation IH in 1996 as business manager for the Middle East.

In 1998, Matthew was appointed business director for Africa and the Middle East. Following the merger of Case IH into CNH in 2000, Matthew became distribution strategy director, thus taking over responsibility for the optimisation of the dealer network.

In 2010, he took over his current position as vice-president sales and marketing Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

Key questions

What is the state of the industry at the moment?

Overall, the markets this year compared with previous years are down around 10% year-to-date. We have had three or four years of very strong markets. The factory has been on a four-day week and the idea was to align our production with current market level. The four-day week has just finished. In 2013, there was total market in Europe close to 200,000. This year we think it will be closer to 150,000.

Where do you see growth?

We are seeing growth in markets that were hit hardest by the downfall. Spain recovered quite well last year. The UK was quite strong last year, as were smaller markets such as Greece, Portugal and Ireland. All markets are back, all driven by low commodity prices.

How are you dealing with future challenges, in particular meeting engine exhaust emission regulations?

One of the challenges will be moving to Tier V, which is coming in 2019-2020. That is effectively tomorrow and we need to get ready for that. And I think the biggest challenge is that up to now, at least North America and Europe have been more or less aligned with Tier III up to Tier IVb. But now that the US is not moving to Tier V, no decision has been made yet. So we are starting to get conflicted alignment between the US and Europe. We have huge misalignment with the Ukraine, Africa and the Middle East. Even in Africa, it is difficult with some countries on Tier II or III for example.

Does Case IH have the ability to step outside and purchase an engine from somebody else?

We wouldn’t want to. We see FPT as a world-competing engine. You can see it in the number of competitors that are buying our engine to use in our products. Something like 40% of FPT’s engine sales production is sold to other manufacturers. When you talk to competitors, I think there is an understanding that FPT has the best technology to meet emission standards. The decision to go with just AdBlue technology and not have EGR, at least in higher horsepower tractors, was definitely the best way to go.

What do you think farmers will be looking for in five to 10 years’ time?

I think all farmers will be looking at how they can increase their productivity and ultimately their profitability. So there will be more and more pressure to reduce fuel consumption, which we have been working on.