Autoflex, which is the Hungarian company was founded in 1982 and 12 years later in 1994 we became a member of the Knott group of companies. Currently the Autoflex group manufactures over 500,000 axles and thousands of different types of trailer parts for the worldwide market.
Our parent company’s turnover approaches 66 million euros (USD = 72 Million) and we are presently in every part of the world from South America to China, Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, all countries of Europe as well as the USA while we maintain 14 subsidiary companies. More or less all of our subsidiary companies specialize in the manufacture and design of specific types of parts which is how our group of companies form a successful business. In Servia we manufacture brake axles and metal mud fenders. This is also where our casting company is located. Our Slovakian subsidairy handles the manufacturing of couplers which is where our stamping work is carried out. In Hungary our parent company established four subsidiaries where we are manufacturing our won tubing/steel, rubber torsion components, plastic parts and this is also where we have our machining center is located. The remainder of our subsidiaries are located in Finland, Slovakia, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, Spain and China.
On November 30th 2006 we founded Autoflex in the U.S. and were originally incorporated in India. I joined the company half a year after its founding in the U.S. to maintain daily contact with our parent company. This year our company is proudly celebrating our 10th anniversary.
Before the founding of the U.S. based company a few European trailer builders were already actively using our product while interest in Autoflex was growing in the American market. This sparked the idea of having a U.S. based ware house which would allow us to directly supply these new U.S. customers. It became reality in the city of Hammond, Indiana in 2007. Around this same time, we also established a relationship with one of America’s largest Trailer manufacturer’s, Karavan Trailers. Our business relationship became closer while we developed many products jointly with the help of Scott Boyd (CEO of Karavan) and his engineering team. In Europe we work with completely different specifications and regulatory requirements. During this time they also became familiar with our European products which developed into Karavan Europe, which was established shortly thereafter.
In 2008 we decided to relocate our company to Fox Lake, WI so that we could work closer with Karavan Trailers and more easily serve them. When we first started we were averaging of one inbound container a month to our Fox Lake location. Today we average two or more containers per week while also maintaining up to two container deliveries a week to our Florida facilities. Meanwhile we expanded Karavan Trailers warehouse in Florida which we serve directly from Hungary. In addition to Karavan Florida, we founded a relationship with Rocet Trailers in 2011. We formed a partnership establishing our own company under the name of Autoflex Knott Florida.
Before we built our warehouse we rented warehouse at two locations in Fox Lake but have since outgrown both. We located our current building for sale in the Fox Lake business park which we were able to purchase in 2012 for a very favorable price. Autoflex now had a 12,000 square foot building, with the possibility of expanding if necessary. Meanwhile we became even more well known throughout the surrounding area as well as the surrounding states with more and more customers inquiring about our products as well as the design of new products. In addition to Karavan Trailers our other nearby customers are Triton Trailers and Generac Mobile (formally known as Magnum Power Products) and on the west coast, EZ Loader Trailers. Because of this growth in customers we had to maintain an ever increasing level of inventory of existing and new products in our warehouse in order to quickly supply the demands of our U.S. based customers. We could not imagine that in a few years we would outgrow this newly purchased 12,000 sqft. building. With that said the decision was made in June of 2015 that our warehouse needed to be expanded. Shaun Johnston, who is our operations director, immediately started looking for a contractor. We invited four local construction companies to quote the new expansion, among them was Horizon Construction. We found them the most qualified based on their previous work record and their very professional CEO, Tony Holschbach. We please with their extremely high quality of work, organization and keeping on schedule. Tony was always available and provided us with valuable advice with respect to the plans. We were also able to discuss daily developments with Tony’s on superintendent, Vic Burmania. We expanded our warehouse by 13,000 square feet, doubling the size of the entire building while also increasing the new addition’s height by eight fee to be able to accommodate even more products and specialized racking.
The great relationship with Horizon Construction made our work much easier and we are very grateful for their work as well as the support from the City of Fox Lake.
Additionally, I would like to thank the City of Fox Lake, Mayor Tom Bednarek, Gary Rogers, Ann Tripke, Tanya Witthun and Sam Jenswold for their interest and financial support. We feel that it was a good decision to move to Fox Lake and it’s great to be a corporate citizen. We appreciate Fox Lake for taking us in and all that they have done for us. It’s not easy as foreigners to get our footings set in a totally new world, but with all the help from such wonderful people it was much easier. We hope that we can continue this work during the decades to come.
The next step at Autoflex Fox Lake will be to start manufacturing. We are currently taking the first steps in this direction. Presently we have 9 employees but we’re in the process of hiring an engineer, warehouse person and a mechanic. We were able to bring together a terrific team with Shaun Johnston. New product development has also taken place under the direction of our owner, Mr. H Szabo Sandor. As an engineer, all our new product development is in his hands. All our engineering support comes from Hungry but in the future we will need a local engineering team as well. Since our founding of the company, I have been involved in the running, its organization and the introduction of new products but today Shaun is the one in daily contact with our customers. I travel between the two countries every month and Sandor spends a lot of time in the USA as well. Sandor is not only the founder and owner of the company but also my husband and thus we deal with the company 24/7 which in reality is our 10 year old “child”. To this day Sandor and I struggle with great energy stay on our feet, since competition is very fierce.
Everyday tasks in the office are handled by Libby, our office manager, and Karen, our bookkeeper. Our chief accountant, Imre Szafrics, has been with us since the start and visits us several times a year. Imre monitors things remotely from his accounting firm based out of Atlanta Georgia. He is in constant communication with the Hungarian CFO, Marianna Balla, the American company, and with our German partner. Knott Group is also present in Ohio where the main product is industrial brakes.
We consult frequently with the head of the Hungarian company, Laszlo Ujhidy, and we are in daily contact with Csilla Farkas, who deals with the daily orders. In the warehouse David is responsible for taking care of our customers quickly and efficiently. He maintains quality check points before any product is shipped, since two -three thousand axels are assembled monthly with additional help from Matt, Bud and Bruce.
I thank you for the opportunity to introduce ourselves.