- Brembo is a world leader when it comes to high performance brakes
- Brembo's sales come from Germany, dwarfing the share for Italy, at 15%
- Lombardy is regarded as one of the four motors of Europe, a highly industrialized region
Bright, shiny and emblazoned with names like Ferrari and Lamborghini -- these brakes are almost as stylish as the cars they're hidden within.
Brembo is a world leader when it comes to high performance brakes, with a high profile at Formula 1 and other motor car racing events.
Now it's broadening its target market to expand its German footprint.
"When we entered the crisis in 2009 we had a strong brand, we had good products, but we were suffering," managing director Andrea Marescotti told CNN.
"We lost 25% of the sales in 2009 and we realized that by being too focused on the top luxury end we were exposed to the crisis," he said.
Now Brembo makes brakes for Audi and Mercedes-Benz, both premium auto-makers in Germany, the company's largest export market.
Almost a quarter of Brembo's sales come from Germany, dwarfing the share for Italy, at 15%.
Grown from a workshop in Lombardy in 1961 by the chairman's father, Emilio Bombassei, the business is now an export powerhouse with annual revenues of $1.8 billion.
Lombardy is regarded as one of the four motors of Europe, a highly industrialized region that powers its country with export-led companies, many family-born, like Pirelli, Campari and Luxottica.
Brembo's total sales increased 10.7% last year, far outpacing the 7.8% drop in car sales across Europe shown by European Automobile Manufacturers' Association figures.
According to Marescotti, family-born businesses like Brembo are the backbone of Italy, and a reason not to worry about the political malaise hovering over the country.
"There is really a multiplicity of medium and small companies with brilliant entrepreneurs with good managers, and they are global today, they are international and really competitive," he said. "German-makers are already utilizing this capacity of our Italian companies."
Brakes like Brembo's aren't just designed for slowing down; they're also designed for speed and efficiency, to save drivers valuable milliseconds.
In the Lombardy region of Italy, family-born businesses are similarly shaving off under-performing markets, and designing their products with German customers in mind.