DETROIT - An 85-year-old German supplier has opened its first sales office in North America.
Preh Automotive, a division of Preh GmbH, is entering the market with four employees for its 8,000-square-foot office in Auburn Hills, Mich. The location includes a technology lab, which will be ready next spring, and a warehouse.
Preh Automotive makes electronic controls and sensors. Heating, cooling and ventilation controls are the division's biggest business.
The company is just one of the latest European suppliers to come to North America.
Preh is here to win Big 3 business. The company has some contracts with General Motors, but none with Ford Motor Co. or the Chrysler group.
BMW is Preh's largest automaker customer, representing 30 percent of its revenue.
Preh had $276 million in global sales last year. It expects $292 million in global sales this year and $450 million in 2008.
Preh Automotive plans at least $12 million in sales as soon as next year. It wants North America to represent 10 percent of the company's global sales in 2008, or $45 million.
Seventy percent of Preh GmbH's sales come from its automotive division. Nick Lontscharitsch, Preh Automotive's vice president of sales for North America, expects that percentage to increase.
Preh also has electronics and engineering divisions.
"We do our tools in-house. We do our assembly lines. We do all the injection molding. We do the painting," Lontscharitsch says. "So we have processes in place where we can go after high-volume as well as low-volume projects."
Lontscharitsch, 38, came to Preh from Behr GmbH & Co. KG, where he worked for 13 years, the last six in the United States.