Brembo S.p.A. CEO Alberto Bombassei's number one rule of management can be summed up simply: 'Good sense above all.'
Instead of having a number of specialties, Brembo finds success by supplying braking systems for exotic vehicles. Bombassei says the strategy has made sense because it allows the company to keep its focus.
Brembo systems can be found on Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati and Porsche models as well as the Aston Martin DB7, Dodge Viper, R versions of Jaguar and many Formula One cars. The Italian company annually produces about 25 million brake discs at plants in Europe, Latin America and Africa. It also has a freshly formed joint venture in China.
Bombassei sees a bright future for Brembo because of two technologies: carbon composite brake discs and brake-by-wire. Carbon composite discs - used in Formula One - are 60 percent lighter than standard iron discs. Brake-by-wire technology eventually will supersede traditional hydraulic brakes. The technology is based on the brake pedal generating an electrical signal to act on electromechanical actuators in the brake of each wheel.
'For such a small company as Brembo, these r&d investments are almost titanic, but we have to remain at the forefront of technology to preserve our independence,' Bombassei explains.
Brembo was started by Bombassei's father in 1961 and sold to Kelsey-Hayes in 1983. The younger Bombassei bought back the company in 1993 and took it public in 1995. Since then business has been brisk. In 2000, Brembo's sales grew 30 percent to $401.7 million. That compares with $162 million in 1996. The company expects double-digit growth this year.
In addition to being CEO, Bombassei is the controlling shareholder. But he does not feel any conflict because of the dual roles. Says Bombassei: 'I always acted as a manager.'