At the end of the 1980s, long before the Brazilian market experienced its first boom, the EDAG Group had already started its activities in São Paulo, and its engineering facility there has now been in existence for 25 years.
Even for the Wiesbaden-based company, which is one of the world's largest independent engineering partners to the automotive industry, this anniversary is of particular significance:
"Not only was EDAG do Brasil our first company outside of Europe, but, having now been in existence for 25 years, is the oldest international dependency within the entire EDAG Group, which is today active in 19 different countries," explains Jörg Ohlsen, EDAG Group CEO.
At the São Bernardo do Campo facility near São Paulo, the EDAG Group today offers a comprehensive range of vehicle and production plant development services.
A workforce of more than 200 employees provides local engineering skills in the fields of styling, model and prototype construction, design and simulation through to the development of complete production plants. Managing Director Martin Vollmer and his team, who are the only German engineering service providers in the region, have long since established their position among international and Brazilian manufacturers and system suppliers as reliable developers of complete vehicles and production plants in the Brazilian market. Their customer base today includes famous names such as AGRALE, BMW, DAF, GM, MAN, Mercedes, PSA, Volare and Volkswagen.
The current success of EDAG do Brasil is the result of the continual and persistent hard work that went into building up the company, combined with a firm belief in the potential of the Brazilian market.
In 1989, before the Brazilian company was founded, an order for the development of vehicle derivatives for the Brazilian market was placed by AUTOLATINA, and this was the starting point of operations in Brazil. From these initial and extremely interesting vehicle-based projects calling for customised solutions for the Brazilian customers and local conditions, came the very first indications that customers would prefer to work with local engineering service providers.
EDAG soon spotted not only the trend towards localisation but also the market potential that was at hand, and in 1992 was the first internationally active engineering service provider to found a company in São Bernardo do Campo: EDAG do Brasil. The company's initial activities were handled by a small team of just 8 employees, who succeeded in locally continuing the cooperation with Brazilian customers that had originally been started in Germany.
The increasing modernisation of the Brazilian industry, the opening of the Brazilian market and the resulting economic upturn combined with an investment wave in the automotive industry in the 1990s soon made it possible to acquire further customers, for instance General Motors and Mercedes. In addition to a wide range of classic vehicle development engineering services, EDAG now also began to offer plant construction services, a key extension of the portfolio. "Successively, we began to offer and successfully market the same business model that had proved successful in Europe, namely single-source product and production engineering," adds Martin Vollmer.
The rapid growth of the market made it necessary to adjust the size of the premises to match the expansion. Further premises were therefore leased in order to be able to handle the increase in customer requirements and volumes. This period also saw the technological transition from the classic drawing board to the first CAD systems. In 1999, the EDAG Group's Brazilian subsidiary was the first engineering service company within the automotive industry to receive quality certification in accordance with the ISO 9001 standard.
Parallel to this, Martin Vollmer gave the education and training of his Brazilian employees his full backing, to ensure that they had the best possible qualifications to meet constantly growing requirements. In 1995, a training programme was installed, which involved employees spending a number of months training in Germany and German employees working on project-related tasks in Brazil. "This continuous, constant training on the job and exchange with our German development engineers increased our performance and technical qualifications to an optimum level. A principle that has proved its value up to the present day, and is still successfully applied," comments Martin Vollmer.
"Our customers have access not only to outstanding local skills and capacities, but also to the EDAG Group's international engineering network, with a current workforce of over 8,000 employees," explains EDAG CEO Jörg Ohlsen. "Evidence of international project cooperation can be seen in the large number of reference projects handled by our Brazilian team over the last few years in alliance with EDAG facilities in Australia, England, Germany, France, Spain and the USA. In recent years, there has been an addition to our international network: our Mexican subsidiary, which was founded in 2013."
Quality awards received from GM, VW and Autodata are clear acknowledgements of the high technical quality levels at EDAG do Brasil.
With entrepreneurial vision and a measure of courage, the expansion of the company was planned in 2001, and intensified with the construction of the company's own building. Due to its strategic vicinity to the most important customers, São Bernardo de Campo was again selected as the ideal location. The building, which has large offices and an extensive factory building with an IT infrastructure featuring state-of-the-art technology and top security levels, including a no-break system, set new standards when it was built, still meets modern requirements and has yet to be matched by any competitor.
Further changes have been brought about by the INOVAR-AUTO programme, initiated by our global customers in a second major investment wave. The international projects already successfully completed by EDAG do Brasil were a clear recommendation, and the company acquired further strategic customers, DAF and BMW, both of whom were newcomers to the Brazilian market at the time.
"Our employees in Brazil, who now number over 200, face the constant changes in the automotive industry with a sense of responsibility, commitment and motivation, creativity and our entrepreneurial skill, to ensure that our customers' quality requirements are met, now and in the future, and that we generate the greatest possible added value for them," explains Martin Vollmer, adding: "With this attitude, we can make use of the challenges and risks of a sector that is constantly reinventing itself and currently following up new mobility concepts such as autonomous driving, e-mobility and "Industrie 4.0", and see them as opportunities for the continuation of our success story in Brazil. We can and indeed will follow and actively shape this path.
The EDAG Group would like to thank everybody at EDAG do Brasil for the great commitment and courage they have displayed and for all the time they have put in throughout the past few years. A very big thank you to our customers, partners and suppliers for the excellent cooperation we have enjoyed over the last 25 years; we look forward to continuing our cooperation with you in exciting projects.