Elaut Founder Achiel Verstraeten, Belgian Crane Pioneer, Dies At 84

Posted On: 11/16/2017

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SINT NIKLAAS, Belgium -- Achiel Verstraeten, the founder of Belgian amusements company Elaut, died in October at the age of 84. 

Verstraeten founded the internationally-renowned games manufacturer as a young engineer in 1959, originally as a radio and television repair shop. Soon thereafter, he conceived the first coin mechanism for actuating bumper cars, and soon was doing a brisk business in bumper-car repair and upgrading for carnival operators.

A decade later, he prototyped the first three-motor electronic amusement crane mechanism. After extensive refinement and testing, Elaut launched the Good Luck crane in 1978 and began exporting it a few years later. With the able assistance of his children Eric, Helga and Emmy, Verstraeten widened the line by introducing the "Big Choice" series. Today, the company is a leading international games manufacturer with offices in Germany, Spain and the United States.

He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Josephina (Josy), his three children and seven grandchildren.