The founding years
Young Max Brose, whose parents run a carbody company in Wuppertal, is witness to how motorization is squeezing out coaches and carriages at a breathtaking speed. Convinced of the future viability of the automobile, the young salesman, at the age of 24, opens up a trading company for automobile accessories in Berlin in 1908, which he runs until the First World War.
Together with his partner, Ernst Jühling, who he meets by chance at the end of the war, he will found the Metallwerk Max Brose & Co. in 1919, expanding his entrepreneurial activities to include the production of automobile components as well.
Max Brose’s main company catalogue grows from year to year, comprising a good 149 pages in 1914/1915. Besides automobile accessories, the product range also includes motorcycle and motorboat equipment. Not long afterwards, the company also begins selling sparkplugs, headlights and tools using its own trade names of “Atlas” and “Mabro”.
Extensive product range
A broad spectrum of accessories is on offer for the modern motorist in the twenties: It includes windshields, horns, mirrors, speedometers, canisters and shock absorbers as well as “all types of clothing”. There is even a “leather mask with head and neck bands” for "four-legged" passengers.
The cornerstone to success
In 1926, Max Brose patents the “crank drive for lowerable windows”. Two years later, series production starts in Coburg, marking the beginning of a success story of a product that today no car is complete without. Due to the high demand, Brose very quickly becomes the market leader.
Laying the foundation stone
Max Brose and Ernst Jühling not only want to deal in vehicle parts but also to develop and produce them. A “wrap spring brake” is the key innovative feature of the Brose crank drive, which they bring to the market in the 1930s: by placing a small round spring in a steel housing, it is possible for the first time to move a gear segment with a lever using a crank and to hold the secured side door window in any position. This lays the cornerstone for a company that would later evolve into the market leader in mechatronic systems for the automotive industry.
Max Brose and Ernst Jühling have hardly set up their own car component manufacturing facilities in Coburg, when Germany is engulfed by a major political and economic crisis and stands poised on the brink of collapse. But the tide turns yet again: at the end of 1924, the Coburg supplier can show what it has to offer at the Berlin Motor Show. Four years later, the Metallwerk Max Brose & Co, located at booth 164a in the Old Hall 1, presents, for the first time, a windowcrank apparatus for automobiles, whose hallmarks include “its simple design and safe mode of operation.”
The first mass product
1936 sees the production start of the 20-liter standard canisters. The production method stands for a largely automated manufacturing and testing process that is cutting-edge at the time, guaranteeing an unprecedented durability for the container and its paint finish. To persuade customers of the product’s superiority, the canister is filled with water and dropped from the second floor of the factory onto the paved yard below. The demonstration has the intended effect – the canister is one of the most renowned products of the Metallwerk Max Brose & Co. for more than twenty years.
Penetrating new business segments
In the twenties, the company also produces dental fillings. In the fifties, Max Brose ventures into a completely new business segment: a typewriter called “Brosette” is designed, launched and widely distributed in Germany and abroad. In 1959, Max Brose sells the production equipment to India, allowing him to focus on his core business in the years to come and to benefit from the growth in the rising German automotive industry.
The economic miracle
After the Second World War, Max Brose resumes management of the Metallwerk in the autumn of 1948. Just in time, as the currency reform heralds a rapid economic upsurge in Germany. At the beginning of the fifties, there are already more than one million cars registered in the Federal Republic. When the millionth Volkswagen rolls off the line in August 1954, one thing is clear: the future belongs to the automobile. Besides the legendary “Beetle”, the Metallwerk Max Brose also equips car lines from the brands Auto-Union, Borgward, Mercedes, Ford, Goliath, Opel, MAN and Tempo with window regulators.
Largest manufacturing company in Coburg
After the war, the Metallwerk Max Brose with approx. 550 employees is the largest manufacturing company in Coburg. Apart from window regulators for cars, trucks and omnibuses, its product range also includes crank handles, ventilation hatches, tilting window hinges, sliding window latches, sun visors, defrostable windows and canisters.
Max Brose and Ernst Jühling modernize and invest in expanding production capacities – this turns out to be a clever move which soon pays off.
Ahead of the market
In the sixties, the German automotive industry is again on the upswing; in line with the American trend, the demand for more comfort and safety is also growing in Europe. In 1956, Brose presents to automotive experts the “electrically driven window regulator” available as an upgrade. In 1962, the company begins series production of the power window regulator for the European market.
The BMW Coupé 3200 CS is the first vehicle to be equipped with this product.
Tailor-made seat technology
At the beginning of the sixties, Max Brose focuses on another future-oriented business segment: seat adjuster technology. In 1968, Brose starts producing seat recliners for adjusting backrests.
First customers include BMW and Mercedes. Within a few years, this new business segment will develop into the company’s second mainstay.
Founder Max Brose guides the company through two world wars and building up an economically stable, technologically successful enterprise.
When Max Brose dies on April 11, 1968, at the age of 84, he leaves behind an impressive legacy: the company has nearly 1000 employees and is generating turnover of 35 million DM. His daughter Gisela, who joined the company in 1939, continues to run the business for another three years, before transferring the management of the company to her nephew, Michael Stoschek.