In August 2015, Brose's London, Ontario facility marked 10 years in operation. There was a lot to celebrate.

Brose Canada, which makes seating systems for Ford, Fiat-Chrysler, Mercedes, BMW, Subaru and VW in the U.S. and Mexico will soon be supplying Honda too. It is the German auto giant's second largest facility and one of its most high tech. With a workforce of 750, the operation has doubled in size in a decade and boasts three 800 tonne stamping presses, 36 laser welding machines and an eco-paint line. This vertical integration is keeping the company highly competitive and helping it gain market share across North America. For the past four years, the Brose London plant has been running 24/7.

“Business here is growing, no doubt about it,” says Brose general manager, Steve Wilkins, who notes that Brose has invested $170 million in the London operation since 2005. It's an investment that's paid off tremendously.

Skilled autoworkers—desire to learn and adapt

“Ontario offers a number of unique selling points,” says Wilkins, “starting with the skilled labour we need. Ontario auto workers are willing to learn and adapt. Our team members are not afraid of change; quite the opposite. They support our continuous improvement philosophy. They're always looking for ways to do things more efficiently and we incorporate their input into our processes.”

Ontario's auto corridor—getting to market quickly

Market access has also been a factor in Brose Canada's success. The U.S. and Mexico are important growth areas for the company and Ontario allows to Brose to access the massive NAFTA market where goods and services move freely. Speed to market is also critical in the parts sector and that makes London's location in the heart of Ontario's auto corridor, together with excellent road and rail infrastructure, hard to beat.

A low Canadian dollar—a plus for exporters

Rounding out the top three reasons Brose Canada's business is growing, says Wilkins, is proximity to local suppliers. With the Canadian dollar hovering at 75 cents U.S., and Brose Canada exporting 80% of what it manufactures to the U.S. and Mexico, the ability to source locally means Brose can be highly competitive from a price point of view.

A government that has your back

Wilkins also credits London's Economic Development Corporation (LEDC). ”It was one of the reasons Brose chose London in the first place. The LEDC helped us every step of the way, from selecting our original location to recruiting staff.”

Brose has also benefited from a supportive Ontario government. The provincial Southwestern Ontario Development Fund, which gives support to help businesses expand, recently provided the company with a grant to help purchase new, state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment aimed at making Brose even more competitive.

What's next for Brose Canada? “We're going to continue to focus on high quality, light weight, cost effective components and systems – and keep building market share.”

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