Located in one of Brazil's most productive regions, DHB is one of the country's largest producers of manual and hydraulic steering systems. From its very beginnings, the company invested time and treasure to acquire the newest technology and to train its workers in order to conquer the Brazilian market. Luiz Carlos Mandelli tells us how this successful enterprise used 100 percent national capital to become one of the leaders in its sector.
DHB Automotive Components was founded in 1967, and is today one of the largest manufacturers of auto steering systems in Latin America. Its quality products supply the needs of the biggest auto makers in the country and beyond Brazilian borders. From the beginning, DHB financed its operation with Brazilian capital, which allowed the company to develop its own technologies and products that were soon recognized internationally. Its aggressive investing policy helps to make significant improvements in business management and in the production process, which in turn translates into great products. But producing some of the best steering systems is not all DHB’s management has in mind. “At DHB, the industrial progress goes hand in hand with technological evolution and respect for the environment,” says Luiz Carlos Mandelli, the company’s president. “Our compromise goes beyond the manufacturing of auto parts. We also promote the welfare of those who work with us and the community around our factory.”
Today DHB houses its operation in an area of 17,500 square meters which includes modern installations and more than 1,000 collaborators. The company is situated in Porto Alegre in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, a region known as one of the most important geographical centers of the Mercado Comun Sul-Americano (MERCOSUL). The MERCOSUL is a trade agreement signed by Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay which opened the doors for dozens of companies to do business beyond any nation’s borders. Today the MERCOSUL is a pillar in the development of commercial activities in South America, where the auto maker industry is probably the one that has benefited the most. Innumerable companies such as General Motors, Fiat, Toyota, Ford and Renault opened manufacturing plants around Brazil, directly spurring the appearance of companies like DHB.
DHB was born on July 10th, 1967 to manufacture automobile components – among these, steering systems and replacement aftermarket parts. Today, DHB is present in more than 20 countries, supplying high quality products, taking into account the most demanding standards. According to Mandelli, DHB’s products are sought after due to their guarantee to be more durable than those of the competition as well as for their lightness, reliability, precision of movement, security and comfort. Included in the company’s portfolio are manual and hydraulic steering systems, hydraulic pumps, suspension pivots, steering terminals and complete hydraulic system kits.
“These features have placed the name DHB high among other auto parts producers,” asserts Mandelli. DHB’s operation is supported by a reliable group of suppliers that fulfill all of DHB’s standards. The partnerships are characterized by mutual respect and responsibility and continuously allow the companies to share knowledge in order to become more competitive. “Our clients appreciate the fact we produce quality auto parts. Most of the time we are able to exceed expectations, by delivering the best products with punctuality.”
The story behind DHB’s long and strong position in the auto parts industry had important phases throughout its history. In the 1980s the company invested in the purchase of the latest technology in the manufacture of auto parts. The upgrades included a new laboratory for quality control and another facility dedicated to research and development of new products. Soon after these breakthroughs, the company began manufacturing the pumps used to make the steering systems. “I think one of the most important steps we took was to realize we needed to produce our own components; that would assure us the continuous supply of such components while maintaining our promise that we would only use items we knew were of the highest quality,” indicates Mandelli.
Not too long after DHB advanced its position in Brazil as one of the most important providers of steering systems, the company expanded its business even further. In the 1980s DHB founded its first subsidiary abroad in the state of Michigan. The new branch allowed DHB to better coordinate its sales in foreign lands and also provided a significant advantage when looking at market trends and new partnerships.
Later in the 1990s DHB continued its ambitious pursuit of the steering system market by opening a new facility to manufacture hydraulic pumps. In the same decade, the company initiated the production of metallic bars and other elements, and also obtained the ISO: 9001, QS 9000, ISO TS and ISO: 14,000 certifications that complemented the quality standards DHB was known for.
DHB began the 21st century by adding a new customer to its strong list. In 2000, the company started manufacturing hydraulic steering systems for German auto maker Volkswagen. In addition, more of its products were exported to new countries such as Iran in the Middle East. Soon after, DHB launched a new kit of steering systems under the name Celta, ratified by General Motors of Brazil (GMB). But perhaps one of the most important steps taken by DHB at the turn of the millennium was the purchase of German Opel’s complete factory of hydraulic valves. “Opel’s factory was considered one of the most modern in the world and it was a pioneering initiative here in Brazil,” remembers Mandelli. Today, DHB’s long list of customers includes names like Peugeot, Renault, General Motors, Volkswagen, Ford, Fiat, Suzuki, Mercury, Citroen
and Iran’s Khodro.
THE QUALITY ASSURANCE
In order to attend an ever growing number of clients, DHB depends on a line of distributors dedicated to supply after-market replacement parts that are stocked around the country. Today, DHB has stores in 25 different locations, including Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Bahia, Santa Catarina, Mato Grosso, Acre and Amazonas, among others. The after-market replacement parts the company distributes are manufactured in the same assembly lines that make the products for the auto makers, which guarantees availability of parts as well as technical aid in the national and international markets.
DHB also adds a strong environment-oriented policy. The reduction of environmental impact and the prevention of pollution caused by the generation of waste products are two of the company’s main goals. With actions such as enlarging its residues handling station in order to reduce the consumption of water and the generation of by-products, the company does its part in the preservation of the environment.
For DHB, quality has proven key. The process begins by determining the client’s needs, and what drives production. In order to achieve this quality, DHB applies diverse tools and procedures and control techniques during its testing process. The automatic assembly line is supported by highly skilled workers that not only see that the final product meets the demands set by the client, but who also invest a great deal of time and attention to innovative approaches and apply their knowledge in order to reduce costs and increase efficiency.
“The philosophy of continuous improvement has resulted in significant growth and that has headed our operation for many years,” says Mandelli. “Everybody involved in this enterprise believes that excellence is not limited to good products, but also includes the utilization of new concepts and technologies.”