Building Brembo into a behemoth of brakes
Alberto Bombassei has been a vital asset in Brembo’s growth from a small family firm into a worldwide leader in automotive braking systems. Bombassei was born in Vicenza, Italy in 1940. He joined Brembo in 1961 almost immediately after it was founded in Bergamo, Italy by his father, Emilio Bombassei, and his uncle, Italo Breda.
The small machine shop took on various jobs in its early days, but its specialty was disc brakes for automobiles and motorcycles. The company’s first automotive supply contract came in 1964 courtesy of Alfa Romeo. Alfa Romeo had hired Brembo to inspect a shipment of discs from England that had been damaged in transit. Upon examining the discs, the company felt that they could manufacture a product of equal quality at a much more competitive price for the local automakers. Soon, Brembo was manufacturing discs for some of Italy’s best-known carmakers, which attracted the attention of Italy’s most famous automotive magnate, Enzo Ferrari.
In 1975, Automotive Hall of Fame Inductee Enzo Ferrari asked Brembo to supply brakes for his Formula 1 cars. It was Bombassei who set up the original meeting with Ferrari. Enzo appreciated Bombassei’s spirit and recognized the technical expertise Brembo could provide his racing operation. Ferrari would win the world championship that year, establishing Brembo as a world-class supplier of brake components. Brembo continued to make technological breakthroughs, such as the design and production of the first aluminum brake calipers. These were adopted by manufacturers like Alfa Romeo, BMW, Ferrari, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ford, General Motors, Porsche, and Mercedes-Benz.
Bombassei has served roles of increasing importance for Brembo. He became general manager of the company in 1976, managing director in 1984, and chairman in 1993. He has continued the company’s expansion, opening facilities in China, Japan, England, the United States and other locales. He also has no intentions of leaving the family firm. “The fact that Brembo is a family business gives strength to the company,” he once said. “I don’t have plans to reduce my involvement.”