Pneurama – Roberto Rossi Interview

The Automotive industry is changing fast, and the sector’s best organised corporations are increasingly focusing on mergers, acquisitions and commercial partnerships to maintain their market shares. Their motives? They aim to improve their production efficiency, invest in research and development and expand their product ranges. This is the firm intention of the board of BASE (Beissbarth Automotive Service Equipment), the recently founded group with a workforce of 550 and sales in excess of 200 million Euros. The group includes firms of the calibre of Beissbarth, Sicam and Werther International, APAC, ACCU TURN, recently joined the French company Nouvelle FOG Automotive. With these last two acquisitions the Italian-German group, owned by the Stargate Capital GmbH investment fund (shareholders Boris Levin and Luca Gazzotti), has expanded not just its product range but also its distribution network. The combinations of different businesses can only be successful and produce earnings if they consist not of mere copycat firms but strong organisations able to create value in synergy.

How did the BASE group originate?

The BASE group is the outcome of a project launched by the Stargate Capital GmbH fund, which began in February 2018 with the acquisition of Werther International and concluded in October, when Bosch sold Beissbarth and Sicam to the fund.

These are three very different businesses now required to operate together. How did you choose the name?

It was no easy matter to represent three companies with different characteristics under a single brand. Eventually, after a series of discussions and studies, we decided to go for recognisability and chose BASE, the acronym of Beissbarth Automotive Service Equipment. We decided to maintain the Beissbarth name because of the brand’s historic, iconic identity: this year Beissbarth celebrates 120 years of operations in the Automotive industry. The first Beissbarth logo dates from 1900. We also chose to pay homage to the Beissbarth brothers by including the number 1 inside the letter B, representing the first registration plate ever used on a motor vehicle. Not many people know that in 1899 the Beissbarth brothers were the first people to obtain a driving licence and to take to the roads in a car with a registration plate. That registration plate is now on display at the Mercedes museum in Germany.

Let’s turn to the figures. How big is BASE today in terms of the automotive market?

80% of output goes for exports. We hold large foreign market shares and operate in a number of countries, both through importers and through our own subsidiaries. We are still working in this area to improve our presence. While in the case of Werther we have maintained the direct subsidiaries, for Beissbarth we are rebuilding its original organisation.”

How much did the market trends towards business consolidation influence your decision to become a single group?

The most active businesses on the automotive aftermarket are tending to become bigger and bigger. And they are doing this by means of agreements, acquisitions and commercial partnerships. With BASE we have also moved in this direction. We are well aware that the competition is going to get fiercer and fiercer during the next few years. So we are investing in innovation and professionalism, to create an organisation with the critical mass needed to provide a product cost able to deal with the market’s new challenges. We aim to maintain a high production and technology level, to ensure we are not crushed by competitors in Europe, America and Asia.

And how do you intend to achieve this?

By means of a strong customer-focus. The companies in our group must respond to customers’ demands fast, providing them with a single contact for access to the product they need. This is where our strength lies. BASE is not a set of copycat companies; it is a group of organisations with completely different market presences, histories and product ranges, but well placed to generate synergies. For example, Beissbarth is the skill centre with regard to automotive equipment electronics, Sicam is the mechanical or mechanical-pneumatic engineering firm specialising in tyre changers and wheel balancers, and Werther is the lift specialist. Three different companies, but able to combine their strengths and become synergistic without too many product overlaps.

You recently acquired Nouvelle FOG Automotive. What are your next targets?

We are intending to expand further, but by investing in enlarging our product range, to become all-inclusive suppliers to the market in our industry and to keep specialising in our established core products. For the time being we are on the look-out for prospects and we are engaged in discussions with some firms. In the future, we may undertake more acquisitions or sign more commercial agreements to enable us to complete our offer.

Pneurama – july/august 2019