Now it’s time to take a close look at a small but competitive business making a difference for the Korean economy. Made up of over 20,000 parts, cars are considered the pinnacle of the manufacturing industry. In fact, in top auto-producing nations, carmakers and parts-makers grow in tandem, increasing their technological prowess. This is also true in South Korea, which is the 6th largest motor vehicle producer in the world. Outstanding parts-makers are steadily propping up the automobile industry. Over the next three weeks, we’ll meet with three different high-end auto parts makers in the country. We’ll start with STOLZ, a high-performance brake manufacturer. Here’s the company’s CEO Lee Jae-bok.
STOLZ makes upgraded, high-performance automobile brake systems. The brake system is the most basic and essential safety feature of a car. Since we focused on safety more than anything, it was inevitable that we’d focus on the brakes. We believe that the most important feature of a brake system is that it stops a car effectively. Our aim is to develop brakes that make smooth stops, as well as clean stops from a high speed when necessary.
In order to stop a speeding car exactly when and where you want to make the stop, you need a high-performance brake system with an exceptional control system and braking functions that’s a level up from the original brakes installed in a car. STOLZ makes such high-end brakes, and the company is well equipped to do so.
First of all, I’m a young man. I founded a company immediately after graduating with a degree in mechanical design, at the age of 24. I started making products simply because I like cars. But after noticing the marketability, I founded STOLZ in order to make the products in earnest. At first, we didn’t have all the systems in order, so we were only making plans and designs. Eventually we brought in the necessary equipment, and once sales picked up, we needed a space for after-sales services. After gradual development, we now have a one-stop shop for everything.
STOLZ’s chief researcher and developer, CEO Lee Jae-bok is a brake tuning system expert. After graduating from university, he founded PA Sports and made automobile brake systems for 11 years. In 2013, he founded STOLZ with an aim to make high-performance brakes. He gradually expanded the company, and today STOLZ is the only brake systems manufacturer in the country that can design, manufacture, promote, sell, and offer after-sales service all on its own. The firm is capable of making products customers want and also offers a complete after-sales service, because of its exceptional technological prowess.
When competing with other brands, I believe it’s only natural that you’d end up in a tie or lose when you have the same equipment. So I thought I’d need a secret weapon of my own that would give me an advantage. That’s why we placed our focus on R&D, and hired expert designers and structural analyzers. To give you an example, in other countries, aluminum alloys are mass produced, so they just pour them into a mold. Instead of using a mold, we cut a forged material that’s pressed with a 1,500 ton press. So our products are made from materials far superior than those of other companies. That’s our biggest strong suit.
STOLZ may have started out later than the leading brands, but its products are globally competitive in terms of their technology, design, and price. The secret is in constant technological development. STOLZ founded an in-house laboratory in 2014 and continues to research ways to make cars better and safer. Through such efforts, the company was able to come up with brakes made with stronger materials and optimized systems through structural analyses. The products are also affordable and boast original designs. Thanks to the outstanding technology, STOLZ has created premium-level brakes, as well as acquiring patents and quality certifications such as ISO 9001 and ISO 14001. After completing performance and endurance tests set by the Korea Automotive Technology Institute, STOLZ also signed an export deal with Germany’s MANHART last year.
MANHART is a big company in Germany with about 30 years of history. They’ve signed a contract with us to distribute our products in Europe. MANHART’s CEO Christoph Erfurt came to our company when he visited Korea. At our first meeting, he said that he likes the way we make our products, as well as the way we work. When he said that he wanted to work with us, I felt very proud. It reassured us that we were doing things the right way. Most other companies try to spend the least amount of money to make cheap products that they can sell more of. But we focus on making a good product that gives you value for money. I think they recognized this about us.
Germany’s MANHART is a company that made a name for itself by optimizing BMW vehicles. It is now a global business that sells automobile parts and accessories in 26 countries around the world. It has also researched ways to upgrade car performance for over 30 years and sets the bar high when selecting a partner company. Now that it’s won the approval of such a global company, STOLZ plans to distribute its high-performance brake systems all around Europe. It’s also speeding up its efforts to develop new products to face the expanded market. Reducing the weight of the material is the key to increasing fuel efficiency. So for its brake systems, STOLZ uses ultra-lightweight carbon, which weighs a quarter of that of steel, but is three times stronger. STOLZ is striving to make products with the best quality and the best designs.
In some areas, such as the materials we use, our products are as technologically advanced and as competitive as those of some of the leading brands. We believe that we need a unique, unrivaled identity in order to compete with our rivals. We’re working hard to make products that excel in everything from performance to design, so that they would stand out anywhere in the world.
STOLZ’s goal is to make the best performing brake systems, like the Italian brake maker Brembo that’s recognized by global carmakers. The future looks bright for STOLZ in its race to the top.