For Roberto Rossi, vice president of Global Sales BASE Group, measuring a group's ability to innovate and produce profits "there is no need for carbon copy companies, but enterprises capable of generating value with a synergistic approach".
As current trends and scenarios change rapidly, some of the largest automotive companies in the sector are focusing on acquisitions, mergers and commercial partnerships, in an attempt to preserve market shares. The reason? To improve production efficiency, invest in research and development and expand product range. This is precisely the path that the board of BASE (Beissbarth Automotive Service Equipment), a newborn group with 550 employees and an annual turnover of over 200 million euro, decided to take. The group includes companies such as Beissbarth, Sicam, Werther International and APAC, recently joined by Tecnolux and the French Nouvelle FOG Automotive. The Italo-German group, part of the Stargate Capital GmbH investment fund owned by Boris Levin and Luca Gazzotti, has expanded not only its product range but also its distribution network with the last two acquisitions. For Roberto Rossi, vice president of Global Sales BASE Group, this unity between different companies is beneficial and produces profits only if this collaboration occurs "not among carbon copy companies, but companies capable of producing value with a synergistic approach”.
What prompted the creation of a group such as BASE?
"The BASE group is the result of a project by the Stargate Capital GmbH fund which began in February 2018 with the acquisition of Werther International and ended in October as Bosch sold companies such as Beissbarth and Sicam to the group”.
Three very different companies that are now called upon to work together. How was the name chosen?
"Uniting three different companies under the same brand was far from easy. In the end, after several studies and discussions, it was decided to focus on brand awareness, hence we chose BASE, which stands for Beissbarth Automotive Service Equipment. We decided to keep the name Beissbarth because of the history of the brand: this year Beissbarth celebrates 120 years of activity in the automotive industry. The first Beissbarth logo dates back to 1900. In addition, we wanted to pay homage to the Beissbarth brothers by inserting a number 1 in the B, which identifies the first registration plate. Few people know that in 1899 the Beissbarth brothers were the first to obtain a driver’s licence and to drive a car with a licence plate. Today that plate is on display at the Mercedes Museum in Germany”.
Let’s talk money. How much is BASE worth on the automotive market?
"Following the latest takeovers we now have 550 employees, and last year our turnover was well over 200 million euro. It must be said that 80% of our production is absorbed by exports. Our presence abroad is very important as our presence in several countries, both through importers and through direct subsidiaries, testify. Regarding the latter, we are still working to further improve our presence. In fact, if, in the case of Werther, we have kept direct subsidiaries, as far as Beissbarth is concerned we are re building what was once its organisation".
How much have recent market trends towards business aggregation weighed on your decision to become a single group?
"The most active companies in the automotive aftermarket are looking at becoming larger and larger. And they are doing so through agreements, acquisitions and business partnerships. As BASE we have followed this same trend. We know that in the next few years competition will become increasingly fierce. Therefore, we are investing in innovation and know-how, so as to create the necessary conditions to adapt our product prices to the new market challenges. Our aim is to maintain a high level of production and technology preventing us from being crushed by other European, American and Asian competitors”.
And how do you plan to do that?
"By focusing on the customer. All the companies in our group must be able to respond quickly to the needs of customers, offering them a single point of contact to turn to for the products they need. This is where our strength lies. BASE is not a collection of carbon copy companies, but different firms with their own uniqueness, presence, history and product ranges, but able to create winning synergies. For example, Beissbarth is the competence centre as far as electronics in the field of automotive equipment, Sicam is a mechanical company specializing in tire changers and wheel balancers, while Werther is active in garage lifts. In essence, three different companies able to join forces and create synergies maintaining their own products”.
You have recently acquired Tecnolux and Nouvelle FOG Automotive. What are your next goals?
"We are planning to expand further, but this time by investing in the expansion of our product range, becoming all-round suppliers without neglecting to capitalize and improve over what has already been achieved. At the moment we are looking around and we are engaged in some preliminary talks with other companies. It is possible that in the not too distant future we will make further acquisitions or commercial agreements allowing us to complete our offer”.
Surely, though, at times you will have to go outside your comfort zone?
"The automotive world keeps changing, and from our point of view we need to pay more than the usual attention to the technological evolution of mobility. Radars, sensors and camera calibration systems: in short, ADAS. We must point out that, since 2003, Beissbarth has already been supporting a number of manufacturers in developing equipment calibration devices. This has enabled us to understand in which direction the market was moving and where we needed to make adequate investments in order to keep pace”.
What are your current moves?
"During the last Autopromotec exhibition we noticed that many of our competitors are developing their products in an attempt to cope with new electronic features. As a result, we need to improve our technological edge to retain our competitiveness on the market. BASE needs to stay ahead of the competition, much of which can boast products similar to ours. Tire equipment, on the other hand, deserves a different kind of mention, and here further improvements are expected shortly”.
As far as your product are concerned, at Autopromotec you premiered a few new devices: what is it all about?
"Sicam presented its new FALCO AL 520 S tire changer, an entry level product, totally made in Italy, and the SBM V660 L wheel balancer, which features now new hi-tech innovations such as the laser line at 6 o'clock facilitating the application of adhesive counterweights and the automatic wheel width measurement system. Beissbarth, on the other hand, underscored its synergy with Werther and presented a scissor lift complete with Touchless trim. This new configuration is suitable to correct the wheel balance on new light transport vehicles such as Krafter and Sprinter Van with long wheelbase. Another new feature is Volkswagen’s approved Easy Tread Profilometer. This is the first time that a car manufacturer has approved a device for checking the tread profile and, at the same time, recommends replacing and/or checking the vehicle's trim. In addition, Easy Tread, in a version dedicated to the independent market, demonstrates its versatility as it can send any data found directly to the MOT inspection station. Werther, instead, presented the WX60 model, a version with full trim and built-in lift table with a capacity of 6 tons. While Apac presented a device for the rapid recovery of engine oil, not to mention vehicle differential and gearbox”.
Have you updated any other equipment?
"SICAM: the SBM WAVE 5 is now available in pneumatic version and with a larger clamping flange that can house any type of accessory, such as push plates for sports wheels and light transport kits. BEISSBARTH: the MLD 9000 headlight centring tool is now available on the market, completely digital and developed for the latest generation of headlights such as DLA and Matrix beam. TECNOTEST: in this case we have up-graded the whole MOT inspection range of this historical brand; exhaust gas analyzers, opacimeters, headlight centring, platform brake testers, speed test, roller brake tests and suspension tests. Everything completed by an innovative software able to manage these devices automatically as required by the new MCTC Net regulation".