This article appeared in the March 2021 issue of MiMfg Magazine. Read the full issue and find past issues online.
Brose North America is headquartered in Auburn Hills and, combined with their New Boston and Jefferson plants,
they have more than 1,600 Michigan employees.
As the world’s fourth largest family owned automotive supplier, founded over 100 years ago, it’s surprising that Brose is not a more familiar name here in Michigan, especially when you consider that all three of their Michigan facilities were winners of the 2020 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For® in Metro Detroit — for the third consecutive year. Brose has also been named a Top Workplace 2020 by The Detroit Free Press, an honor based solely on employee feedback gathered through a third-party, anonymous survey.
“Our people are our greatest asset, and I am consistently impressed by the diverse and capable individuals who lead our organization to success,” says Brose North America President Wilm Uhlenbecker.
One Skill Everyone Should Have
“Self reflection (but my daughters would be surprised I didn’t say math).”
The company has earned a global reputation for developing and producing safe, convenient mechatronic systems for vehicle doors and seats as well as electric motors, drives and electronics for automotive applications. In addition to being recognized by its employees as an exceptional workplace in 2020, Brose has been recognized, for the third consecutive year and five times total, as a Supplier of the Year by General Motors.
“The entire Brose organization is proud of being acknowledged as a GM Supplier of the Year for the third time in a row. We strive to be a true partner through the entire product lifecycle, year after year,” says Uhlenbecker.
Brose’s core values can be summed up as family, innovation, respect, success and team — or the acronym “FIRST,” Uhlenbecker says. As a family owned company, Brose understands the importance of maintaining a family atmosphere and respecting family obligations. Founder Max Brose was the original innovator and he established a culture of continuous innovation and entrepreneurship throughout the company.
The Best Advice I Ever Got
“You’re only as good as your team. So make sure you delegate responsibly and you grow and develop your team.”
A unique and valuable approach to Brose’s ability to stay innovative is their InnoMAX program, where employees are encouraged to present inventive ideas for new products or services that Brose could offer. Participants pitch their projects through an engaging and inspiring process that involves refining their concepts and re-pitching them.
Uhlenbecker says the keys to success are having passion for what you do and being honest, loyal and authentic.
“People ask me how I ended up in the automotive industry and I say it is because I love cars,” he says. “As products, the experience of driving, sitting in a vehicle and enjoying all the features and comfort it can offer.”
Uhlenbecker sees a bright future in the electric and autonomous vehicle markets, and Brose’s concentration on mechatronics could play a pivotal role in this rapidly growing sector.
My Key to Success
“Having passion for what you do.”
To add to that bright future, Brose is one of the founding companies of the Michigan Advanced Technician Training program (MAT2), which provides an educational model that combines work and school to ensure young people have the skills and education needed to succeed in Michigan’s manufacturing industry. Brose has hired more than 40 employees who have completed the program.
Brose’s innovation, agility and dedication to their team is a cornerstone to their culture and was evident in the early days of the pandemic. They were able to move all 600-plus employees from their North American headquarters in Auburn Hills to home offices in just one day.
“The industry did not stop. And we kept pace with our customers’ needs,” Uhlenbecker says.
Because that’s what Brose does: they take care of their customers and their team members.
Brose North America has been an MMA member company since April 2017. Visit online: brose.com.