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October 5, 2013

Braun Corp. buys into Brazil firm

Winamac company spreads to third continent.

WINAMAC — Braun Corp. is moving into Brazil.

The Winamac company announced this week it has invested in a Brazil-based company, Foca Controles de Acessos, which manufactures access control systems, turnstiles and wheelchair lifts specialized for urban buses.

The investment puts Braun Corp. on three continents. The company became part owner of Autoadapt in Sweden in 2011 and continues employing more than 800 people at its headquarters in Winamac.

A spokesman for the company said the investment in Brazil means Braun Corp. should gain business it couldn’t otherwise attract, and won’t move any jobs out of Indiana, where Braun remains headquartered.

“We had been looking at Brazil for several years,” said Greg Cook, Braun’s vice president of commercial and international sales. “Brazil has extremely high tariffs and we had sold some of our lifts into Brazil, but with not much success.”

Braun had been talking to Brazil-based companies for nearly three years, Cook said, in order to find one to partner with to “get our foot in the door” of the Latin American market.

Foca, whose name translates to “Seal” in Portuguese, has so far focused on making access controls, like automated turnstiles for stadiums and urban buses, and got into manufacturing wheelchair lifts for buses in response to bus manufacturers’ request, Cook said.

Based in Caxias do Sul in southern Brazil, Foca’s single manufacturing plant employs 80 people full-time.

Latin America represents a strong and growing market for public transportation, Cook said, and with that a good market for the wheelchair lifts that Braun Corp. and Foca make.

With the World Cup coming to Brazil in 2014 and the summer Olympics arriving two years later, “they’re working diligently to upgrade all their public transportation, and part of that, making their public transportation more accessible,” said Cook.

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