Our Company arose from humble beginnings, built by entrepreneurs who saw and captured opportunities for growth in the automotive market. These entrepreneurs ultimately found their success in supplying aluminum wheels to leading global light vehicle manufacturers (OEMs) and the aftermarket. With roots in North America and Europe, our business was formed in mid-2017 through a combination of two leading aluminum wheel manufacturers, Superior Industries in North America and UNIWHEELS in Europe, forming one of the world’s largest aluminum wheel manufacturers for light vehicles.
Louis L. Borick founded Superior in 1957
The early years of Superior were focused on aftermarket products. The first products included bug screens and shock absorbers among other offerings. However, the Company’s leading product during its early years was the “Sport Grip” steering wheel cover, which it introduced in 1966. This cover utilized Superior’s patented Porotherm® material, which was designed to increase driving comfort while providing a more secure and safer grip on the steering wheel for the driver. Ultimately, Sport Grip became the world’s leading steering wheel cover with over 100 million units sold.
Automotive Wheels Became the Hub of Our Products
In 1968, Superior began production of chrome wheels. With the hot rod and custom car industry making tremendous strides in California, it was the ideal place to be. It was there, in Southern California, that the first aftermarket aluminum wheels were produced.
The oil shock of the early 1970s ushered in a need for additional light weight vehicles, which led to the idea to approach an automotive OEM. Success in aftermarket wheels ultimately led to OEMs desiring to incorporate Superior’s offering on new automobiles. In 1974, Ford Motor Company contracted with Superior to begin production of the first cast aluminum wheels for the Mustang II. By 1977, Superior was a staple on the Mustang II and was awarded a multi-year contract.
Initial Public Offering
The growth in Superior’s product offerings and market acceptance as well as the need for further capital to fund growth encouraged Superior to go public. Superior’s Initial Public Offering was on November 18, 1969 when it offered 320,000 shares of common stock at an issuance price of $12.50 per share. The Company’s subsequent growth and success led to its stock being listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1989, where it continues to trade today.
Production Capacity Mirrors Sales Growth
Superior’s growth in production facilities mirrored the growth in the success of its products. The Company opened a facility in Van Nuys, California in 1968 to support production of the Company’s aluminum wheels. Soon to follow in 1987 was a large facility in Fayetteville, Arkansas. This new facility had the capacity to produce 2.5 million wheels annually.
By 1994, continued demand for Superior’s wheels and the passage of NAFTA led Superior to open a manufacturing facility outside of the United States in Chihuahua, Mexico, providing Superior significant additional capacity for its expansion. Over the course of approximately 20 years, Superior continued to open new facilities in Chihuahua, Mexico, with the most recent facility opening in 2015, bringing Superior’s total footprint in Mexico to four facilities with capacity over 10 million wheels per year.
Over the years, Superior’s success in the market for automotive wheels did not go unnoticed. The Company’s reputation for performance, quality, and value not only allowed it to become the largest manufacturer of aluminum wheels in the North American market, but also to receive accolades from the automotive industry.
Foundation of ATS
Günther Schmid founded Auto Technisches Spezialzubehör, or ATS, in the late 1960s in Bad Dürkheim, Germany. The company was a forerunner in aluminum wheel production for the aftermarket, pioneering a low pressure die casting method now used throughout the industry. In the 1970s and 80s, ATS created revolutionary lightweight wheels for both Porsche and VW, as well as a light aluminum alloy five-spoked wheel (known as the AMG “Penta” wheel) for AMG, Mercedes-Benz’s high-performance tuner.
ATS in Formula 1
In 1977, Schmid—a long time motorsport enthusiast—founded the ATS Formula 1 racing team, the only German team in the league at the time. Through the late 70s and early 80s, the team enjoyed varied success, competing in Grand Prix all over the world.
Founding of ALUTEC and Acquisition of RIAL
Ralf Schmid, Günther Schmid’s son, founded ALUTEC Leichtmetallfelgen in 1996. In 1998, ALUTEC acquired RIAL Leichtmetallfelgen, another of Germany’s most prominent wheel and rim producers. RIAL, under Günther Schmid, had also sponsored a Formula 1 racing team in the late 1980’s. In order to meet demand and increase international competitiveness, ALUTEC/RIAL constructed an alloy wheel production plant in Stawola Wola, Poland in the year 2000.
Founding of the UNIWHEELS Group
In 2005, ALUTEC and RIAL became the UNIWHEELS Group. In February of 2008, UNIWHEELS bought back the European activities of the ATS Group with a parent plant in Werdohl, Germany. ATS’s larger plant was also located in Stawola Wola, Poland in close proximity to UNIWHEELS existing plant. Annual production volume swelled from 2 million to 7 million wheels in this time. Uniwheels AG’s Initial Public Offering took place in May of 2015 on the Warsaw Stock Exchange. In March of 2016, the stock was included in the index of medium-sized companies.
The Combination of Superior and UNIWHEELS
On May 31, 2017, Superior acquired UNIWHEELS Group, marking a great milestone in the two companies’ history. This transformative combination created one of the largest providers of aluminum wheels for the automotive market with a highly-diversified customer base, a broad array of value-added products, significant geographic breadth, and a platform for development of new technologies.
Today, by maintaining our leadership in technology development in the rapidly evolving mobility marketplace, we continue the tradition of innovation and entrepreneurship laid by our founders. Our expanded global team is creating solutions that address the need for improved emissions through lightweighting technologies as well as the desire for innovative styling through new finishing applications and wheel designs.