On the occasion of the 100th anniversary. On the occasion of brose’s centenary in coburg, the family-owned company has a few problems to contend with. The general conditions on the global market are difficult, the automotive industry in particular is under pressure, and in fiscal 2018 brose recorded a slight drop in sales – for the first time in living memory. How to get back on track? Perhaps by first going downhill for a short while. To be more precise: in the basement. Brose stores more than 800 products that have already been produced in the company’s long history. Every single one of them can tell a story – and every single one of them can give courage.
"We can draw on one hundred years of brose expertise", says gregor kroner, head of predevelopment seat in the brose group. He, who is currently thinking a lot about autonomous driving, is always fascinated when he looks at the objects in the basement. Some may seem out of date from today’s perspective – others may be old, but contain technical inventions that have survived to this day. The archive is thus emblematic of the joy of progress and also of the courage to make entrepreneurial decisions at brose.
Curious basement stories
Uwe balder, who works as a company archivist at brose, is also very enthusiastic: "the leaps in innovation in one hundred years of brose are unique!" Time and again, company founder max brose – and later also his grandson michael stoschek – made the right decisions at the right time. In the early 1920s, max brose and his business partner ernst juhling recognized that the future belonged to the automobile – and came up with a number of ideas: from car jacks to vulcanizers for car tires. Later, in the early 1950s, max brose reacted to the fact that new administrations were being set up, all of which needed typewriters – the "brosette" model typewriter was sold almost 50000 times until 1959. It was also available in green, especially for police departments, and in red for fire departments. What "basement stories uwe balder can tell us more?
The first car flasher
When the company archivist says that the automotive supplier "also made a turn" in the last hundred years he thinks of products like the "brosette" or bugeleisen, which were also part of the portfolio at the beginning of the 1950s. In keeping with the theme of turning, balder also proudly shows the forerunner of today’s car turn signal: the mechanical "folding-sliding turn signal, the trading house max brose offered in 1914/15 was followed in 1927 by the electrically illuminated "atlas-winker", which the brose designers had developed further: the turn signal was controlled by means of an "adjusting lever on the driver’s seat" operable via a floor hoist. By the way: all brose products of that time were called "atlas" or under "mabro (for max brose).
Attention, canister from above!
Uwe balder is particularly fond of telling the story of the 20-liter unit canister made by brose. Because: this product from the 1930s and 1940s contains several technical refinements that can still be found on almost all gasoline and oil cans today. The main difference between the brose canisters and the others was the closure: instead of a screw cap, which can easily be forgiven in the heat, there was a bayonet closure. In addition, a small vent pipe was integrated into the filling spout, which made it possible to pour more quickly. To increase stability, a kind of coarse "X" was used punched into both sides of the canister. Uwe balder has to smile when he sees this "X" today you can even see it on commercially available plastic canisters. "It makes no sense at all with plastic canisters", he says "but the X is obviously a sign of quality"." By the way: to prove how robust the brose canisters are, they were regularly thrown off the roof of the production building – in front of potential customers – and were not allowed to break (which they didn’t)!). This production building, the "canister building", today houses the brose bistro and the fitness studio. Whether canister throwing should be introduced as an exercise instead of dumbbell lifting?
Cooking with brose
After the end of the second world war, the demand for automobiles lay idle. In order to utilize its machines and keep its workers busy, brose concentrated on the production of practical metal utensils. Brose was one of the companies that produced low-cost stoves, so-called "economical stoves", on the instructions of the authorities, manufactured. Until the early 1950s, steel helmets were also converted into cooking utensils and watering cans.
Pilgrimage because of volvo
Of course, the brose archives also contain all of the predecessors of electric window regulators and seat adjusters. And then there is also a headrest for volvo on the shelf. It is not only a reminder of the fact that a plastic foam plant was set up at brose in the mid-1970s, but also of this story: when a tough price war was raging on the automotive market in 1983, brose made great efforts to secure a rough order from volvo. The team leader at the time promised: "if we get the order, we will go on pilgrimage to fourteen saints’ day!" Brose got the order, and a little later a 20-head brose group marched from coburg to staffelstein – and brought a 20-kilo candle to the pilgrimage church. Curiosity: the candle was decorated with many small head spouts.
Today, brose no longer produces polyurethane headers, but it does have a plastic prefabrication facility in coburg, which produces around 300 million parts a year and supplies them to other seat plants in the brose group, among others.
Max brose patented the core innovation in 1926
The crank mechanism, which max brose patented in 1926, is regarded as a core innovation in the company’s history. With this the car windows could be raised and lowered comfortably. By using a wrap spring brake, the window panes could be held in any desired position. At the end of the 1950s, brose electrified its manual window regulators, initially offering them as an aftermarket kit. The electric window regulator from brose was first fitted as standard in 1963 in the BMW 3200 CS, also known as the "bertone" called.
The brose success story continued even after the death of the company’s founder (1968). Daughter gisela brose stayed on until grandson michael stoschek had completed his education and finally took over in 1971. Brose presented an electric multi-way seat adjuster at the 1977 international motor show. The electric seat adjuster was first used in series production in europe in 1979 in the mercedes S-class.
Today, brose is a global mechatronics specialist with around 26,000 employees at 62 locations in 23 countries. Mechatronics is the interaction of electrical engineering, mechanics and information technology.
Today’s brose group has its origins in 1908. At that time, max brose opened a dealership in berlin for automotive accessories. After the first world war, he founded the max brose metal works in coburg in 1919 together with ernst juhling. So this year will be "100 years of brose in coburg" celebrated.