HOMER, MI – Further demonstrating the improving fortunes for auto suppliers trying to keep up with customer demand, Brembo North America expands its brake plant here for the fifth time since acquiring it from Hayes Lemmerz in 2007.

Generally recognized over the years for producing brakes for high-performance cars, Italy-based Brembo has expanded its product strategy to include high-volume mainstream vehicles.

For instance, Chrysler minivans and Ford Fusion sedans use Brembo brake rotors, which explains how the supplier has become one of the top sources worldwide for brake rotors.

Brembo manufactured 10 million of them here last year and plans for 12.5 million this year, nearly all for North American customers.

Demand also is climbing for Brembo’s distinctive calipers, which often are red, with the brand name visible through alloy wheels. The plant here delivered 300,000 calipers and full corner modules (including rotor and knuckle) last year and expects 400,000 this year.

Since 2007, employment here has climbed from 105 to 450. During the recession of 2008 and 2009, Brembo, which is traded publicly on the Milan stock exchange, says it was profitable.

Brembo stepped up its presence in the market for foundation brakes as one of the top players, Robert Bosch, was exiting because profit margins are thin, compounded at the time by declining volumes. Rivals TRW and Continental remained.

But Brembo’s biggest advantage over the established giants was entering the segment without extensive legacy costs and large amounts of capacity going unused.