Brose is the world’s fourth-largest family-owned automotive supplier. In 2021, the company’s new site in Pančevo started its operations – and the next development steps are already being prepared
In his interview for CorD, Brose Serbia Managing Director Roman Strakoš expresses his satisfaction with the decision to set up a new location near Belgrade and describes his plan for the next years.
Is everything in your new plant in Pančevo progressing according to plan? What exactly will be produced at this facility located near Belgrade?
We struggled with COVID restrictions over recent months, just like other companies.
We were particularly hard hit regarding the training of our new employees abroad, due to various, changing regulations. The situation also had a negative impact on the availability of the necessary construction workforce and material. Despite those negative effects, we were able to cope well thanks to close cooperation with our partners.
Brose Serbia achieved every important milestone on time or even quicker than originally planned. Our plant has been in operation since 1st July. We are currently producing electronics and cooling fan motors, while preparing to increase our capacity as planned. The next step will be the start of our production line for electric oil pumps in early 2022.
How would you assess your company’s cooperation with representatives of the City of Pančevo and the Republic of Serbia? Have they done everything required to ensure that this largest German investment in Serbia to date is being implemented to the mutual satisfaction of all involved?
I see Serbia as a great place for our production and development location, with many people qualified and willing to take part in creating the future of mobility. This was the reason we chose Serbia in the first place, and good cooperation with the local and national government confirmed our decision. So far, we have always been able to find a way to together resolve every issue that came up.
The next step for Brose Serbia will be the start of our production line for electric oil pumps in early 2022
How much assistance in the implementation of this project have you received from representatives of the German-Serbian Chamber of Commerce and the Serbian Development Agency – RAS?
We received major support and guidance from RAS, which was and is very helpful. The commitment of the entire RAS team is outstanding, and the Republic of Serbia can be really proud of them. With the Chamber of Commerce, we mainly cooperate with regard to educational topics and in order to get in contact with other German companies.
How much have you invested in Serbia to date and what is the total value of this latest investment?
Until the end of 2021, we will have invested a high double-digit million euro amount here, which is about three quarters of our investment for the first phase of the new location.
Alongside the constructing of the factory and procuring of equipment, you’ve also worked to identify the best possible personnel. Are you satisfied with the quality of the workforce that’s available? How many workers will be employed?
This autumn, we will also start our internship programme: 19 students will be working at Brose, with some of them even staying in Germany for a couple of months
In general, we are very satisfied with the technical qualification of people, as well as their ability to speak English. At the moment, more than 350 people are working at Brose Belgrade. This number is supposed to grow to 1,100 by 2025. Of course, this growth will depend on the further development of the automotive industry, which is still rather volatile due to the pandemic and the shortage of semiconductors.
Are you perhaps planning to collaborate with local schools, colleges and institutes on identifying and promoting talented individuals at an early stage and encouraging the development of research projects?
We are in intensive discussions with local high schools in Pančevo to set up a dual education programme. There is also close cooperation with the universities of Belgrade and Novi, Sad specifically the faculties of Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Technical Sciences. This autumn, we will also start our internship programme: 19 students will be working at Brose, with some of them even staying in Germany for a couple of months.
How realistic is your plan to achieve revenue of around €440 million in Serbia by 2025?
With our long-term planning and order situation, that goal is still realistic. However, as already mentioned, our business development is closely linked to the situation of the automotive market in general, which is still facing several crises today.