Tony at Tradeshow in 70s
Centaur Founder, Tony Lelkes Demonstrating Canadian Made Centaur Machines at a UK Trade Exhibition in the 70s

Our Story (Spanning 64 Years… So Far)

Starting With The “Pre-Hatching" of Centaur: Doing a Runner from Stalin…

To understand how Centaur Floor Machines came into existence, we have to rewind back to “Stalin Controlled” Hungary – 64 years ago.

The year was 1956.

It was during that year that Hungary was in the midst of a people’s revolution. An uprising against the oppressive government regime.

The fall-out was that around 200,000 Hungarians ended up fleeing their country – escaping through “a tear” in the IRON CURTAIN – into neighboring Austria.

Tony Lelkes (the founder of Centaur Floor Machines) was one of those who fled Hungary at just 16 years old.

It was the only way up and out!

In Austria, he (along with other Hungarians) went to the US Embassy to seek asylum.

But there was one problem.

A HUGE long line of people.

So, Tony did the next natural thing that came to mind…

He hopped on over to the Canadian Embassy where there was no line.

The clerk asked him: “What do you want?

Tony replied: “I wish to go to Canada.

When?“, the clerk asked.

Tomorrow if it is not too late,” said Tony.

A couple of days later Tony was on the ocean liner, The Empress of Brittany, on his way to Halifax, Canada.

He arrived in Canada with no visa, no passport, and no luggage – just a neatly folded $5 bill given to him by the Mayor of Halifax.  (Yep, the Canadian Government paid for his travel).

The First Centaur Machine:
How it all really started…

A few years later (in 1962), with a small bank loan, Tony rented a large unkempt basement in Toronto for $20/month.

He began a machine repair shop…

Tinkering. Making. Fixing machines. That sort of stuff.

Four years later (in the mid 1960s), Tony finished designing his first prototype floor cleaning machine.

A couple of years after that, the first Centaur Model 15″ Floor Machine was on the “shop floor” ready for sale.

Even Tony Lelkes had no idea he’d go on to build a business – Centaur Floor Machines — manufacturing “The Best, Toughest Floor Machines on the Market“.


  • The world’s first 2-speed floor machine that also cleans & strips baseboards.
  • The world’s first floor machine that also downsizes to clean “tighter” areas.
  • The world’s first floor grinder that carries 400 lbs of extra weight… and that runs on a standard 110V, 15 A circuit
  • The world’s first wet/dry industrial vacuum cleaner that deposits debris directly into a garbage bag.
  • The world’s toughest canister aircraft commercial vacuum cleaner that runs on 400Hz.

Centaur TODAY “Fully Matured” – A Fine Specimen of Commercial Floor Machine Craftsmanship & Service

Fast forward 58 years…

To today.

Centaur is THE foremost recognized and trusted brand among professional cleaners in Canada and North America — with an unmatched reputation for reliability, durability and well… just better all-round engineering.

In fact, to this day, every Centaur machine is hand-built by skilled machinists. To the most exacting of standards. Every component of each machine is also individually tested (as a machine is being built).

The result of this precision-engineering, hand-built, craftsmanship approach?

Dare we say, the finest specimen of tough-as-nails, “no-job-is-too-much” professional floor cleaning machines and vacuums coming out of Canada.

Not an idle boast either.

Since a Centaur floor machine will typically still be working 30 to 45 years after purchase.

Contrast that to other manufacturers machines which will only last you (realistically) between 5 and 10 years before breaking down — requiring you to pay-out again for a replacement; waiting around for the parts.

So… Why Should YOU Care Today?

Why not take a look at some of the OVERALL BENEFITS that accrue from Centaur machines lasting 3 to 9 TIMES LONGER than other manufacturers’ machines…

Here are some of those benefits (as regularly reported back to us by our long-standing loyal customers – who are affectionately called “Centaurians”):

  • No downtime / repair time or loss of productivity on a job when you use Centaur machines
  • A Centaur machine will have a higher residual / resale value — highest among the competition (Centaur machines depreciate the least).
  • Centaur machines cost less per month / year to own and operate compared to competitor machines
  • Centaur is more environmentally friendly than other manufacturers’ machines (you won’t be chucking your Centaur machine into a landfill any time soon!)

And best yet:

  • ONE Centaur floor cleaning machine can typically do the “jobs” of 2 to 3 machines (combined) from another manufacturer.

That’s why just about every prudent professional cleaning company eventually gravitates to relying on a Centaur machine.

We hope you’ll do the same and join thousands of other Centaurians!