DARMSTADT, Germany—Vibracoustic GmbH has a presence throughout the automobile.
Yet if it does its job effectively, drivers won't even know their products are there.
The Darmstadt-based automotive supplier is the global leader in anti-vibration parts—including chassis and engine mounts, air springs, and dampers—with what it says is 18 percent of the market. The firm is present in 19 countries, all major regions, with 43 sites worldwide, including 23 research and development locations. It employs 9,988 people with sales of about $2.56 billion.
"Most drivers don't know we exist in the car," said Vibracoustic CEO Frank Mueller, who has led the company since 2015. "We're only about 1 percent of the vehicle. But the moment our product isn't in there—on your steering wheel, your seat or your gas pedal—you would feel it immediately."
Vibracoustic was a 50-50 joint venture between the Freudenberg Group and Trelleborg A.B., but in April 2016 Freudenberg came to an agreement to assume full ownership in a deal that was finalized in July of that year.
Mueller said that while Trelleborg is no longer part of the venture, the strategy has remained the same under Freudenberg. Vibracoustic traditionally has grown at double the pace relative to the market, according to Mueller.
And the firm is investing to support that growth, especially in Asia-Pacific.
Recently, Vibracoustic increased production at its plant in Rayong, Thailand, to meet increasing customer demands—with further projects launched in 2017.
It also continued its expansion into the Chinese market with 40 new products successfully launched at its site in Yantai, China. Its second site in Wuxi is almost at full capacity, which has caused Vibracoustic to explore options for a third factory in China.
"We have been and still are an independently operated company with all the structure behind it," Mueller said. "Freudenberg has been a very supportive shareholder and are now even more supportive. It's fair to say there's no real operational change. There's a very strong commitment from Freudenberg to stay invested in the anti-vibration business."
The German automotive supplier is not immune to megatrends. Like others, it too is assessing the potential impact of electric and autonomous vehicles.
But Mueller also is not worried about either technology platform. Like with traditional models, they will require noise, anti-vibration and harshness products, which plays right into Vibracoustic's portfolio.