June 1919: Eleven years after opening a trading company for automotive parts in Berlin, Max Brose and his business partner Ernst Jühling establish the Metallwerk Max Brose & Co. in the Upper Franconian city of Coburg. His grandson Michael Stoschek takes over in 1971, growing the regional metalworks into a globally operating automotive supplier. The family-owned company is currently deploying the most comprehensive modernization program in its history to ensure it is prepared for the future. During an anniversary celebration on 6 July in Coburg the shareholders and executive management board welcomed around 100 representatives from politics, business, academia and culture as they reflected on the past century and offered an outlook for the future.
“Over the past 100 years we have introduced a number of products from Coburg to the rest of the world that have made us the market leader,” explained Kurt Sauernheimer, CEO of the Brose Group. He cited examples like the “Atlas window regulator”, which helped the company lay the foundation stone for its largest business division Door with current sales of around 3.2 billion euros. The supplier wants to play a major role in shaping the future of vehicle access with innovative features such as doors that open automatically.
The first power seat adjuster installed in a European production vehicle in 1979 also came from Brose in Coburg. The Seat business division manages its global business with just under two billion euros in turnover from this location. The Coburg plant plays a pioneering role in introducing innovative production technologies and new product ramp-ups. Today experts at the location develop concepts for flexible and particularly comfortable vehicle interiors.
For the supplier’s successful business development over the past several decades, the focus has always been on quality over quantity. And Brose is committed to keeping this promise in the future: “I don’t want Brose to become a sterile, faceless company. Instead, it’s important to me that it remains an attractive, agile and transparent family-owned company as it continues to grow – with a heart for employees, especially those in production,” emphasized Michael Stoschek. The grandson of the company’s founder led Brose for 34 years and has represented the interests of the owners vis-à-vis the management as Chairman of the Brose Group for 13 years.
The transition in the automotive industry, a declining market – particularly in China – and extreme price pressure have dampened business growth in the Brose Group. Low personnel and labor costs in Eastern Europe are also increasing the pressure on production in Coburg to become more competitive. “As a result, we are celebrating this anniversary in difficult times. But one of the unique strengths of our family-owned company is how our shareholders, management board and employees work together to find solutions. Brose has overcome quite a few difficult situations in its over 100-year history, not least due to its financial stability,” Sauernheimer made clear.
The family-owned company is the largest industrial employer in the city and district of Coburg. There are around 3,300 employees in production, development and administration at the location, and another 2,000 at suppliers in the region. Brose generates six percent of group turnover in Coburg and 13 percent of its 26,000 employees in total work here.
In the future the international company wants to continue growing its core business, cut costs throughout the organization, create more efficient structures and workflows and boost its innovative strength in existing and new products and processes. This is why the supplier initiated a global modernization program. “I’m delighted that our executive management board has resolved to return the spirit of entrepreneurship back to the company. To do this, we must eliminate existing bureaucracy, reduce hierarchies, accelerate approval processes and give our employees more decision-making latitude,” said Stoschek.
Michael Stoschek, grandson of company founder Max Brose and chairman of the shareholders' meeting of the Brose Group, looked back on the 100-year history of the location and showed how the family-owned company has solved challenges of competitiveness, efficiency or of technological nature with determination and drive in the past.
Kurt Sauernheimer, CEO of the Brose Group, emphasized the importance of the Coburg location for the supplier at the anniversary celebration and referred to the strengths of the family-owned company in coping with the current economic situation. He himself began his own career here a good 32 years ago.
Historical collection of buildings at Ketschendorfer Straße in Coburg from the days when automotive supplier Brose was founded.
Brose employs around 3,300 people in Coburg, a quarter of whom work in research and development.
The Brose success story began with the Atlas window regulator. The company is still the market leader in this product segment today.
Brose employees develop adjustment systems for flexible vehicle interiors in Coburg.