Where Are They Now?: Becker Hydralics
German-Based Becker Hydraulics Happy and Growing Here in Hampton Roads
HREDA played pivotal role a decade ago in bringing the manufacturer to our region
It was 2005, and Becker Hydraulics, a German custom manufacturer of products like turning parts and hoses, needed to open a US location to better meet the needs of its American clients (ex: John Deere).
Fabian Becker, at the time the company’s international business manager, and his team began the search but weren’t sure where to look. They first contacted the German American Chamber of Commerce, which preselected a handful of cities/regions to explore – Chicago, Detroit, Boston, Charleston, Spartanburg (South Carolina) and Hampton Roads.
Soon after, the Alliance Senior Vice President Thomas Clemens visited the Becker Hydraulics offices in Germany for an in-person meeting and presentation about Hampton Roads. “It made a big difference that Thomas saw our operations firsthand and understood the work we do,” said Fabian.
Fabian liked Hampton Roads because of the six-hour time difference from Germany versus seven hours if they located in the Midwest; one hour makes a big difference when conducting business. As well, Thomas discussed Hampton Roads’ world-class port operations, which would make it easier for Becker Hydraulics to ship products to Europe, Asia and South America.
When the Becker Hydraulics team toured US locations later in the year, they made sure to visit Hampton Roads. At that time, the Alliance team introduced Fabian and his associates to local CPA firms, banks and immigration attorneys – the people they would need to open a US location. The Alliance also assisted with site selection for office/warehouse space in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Chesapeake.
“The Alliance’s value to overseas clients is in providing the ‘how-to’ and sharing of contacts with them to get settled and start doing businesses,” said Thomas.
Fabian remembers how Thomas and the HREDA team were patient the entire time.
“I never felt pressured or rushed,” said Fabian. “Even during 10-hour days of meeting and site tours, they always gave us their full attention. That kind of service made an impact.”
In December 2005, Becker Hydraulics decided on a site in the Greenbrier section of Chesapeake. Fabian lived in Hampton Roads permanently for three years to set up the US location. He hired three employees and continued to rely on the Alliance – as well as Chesapeake Economic Development – to understand US tax codes and gain the necessary clearances and certifications.
Flash forward eight years to 2013. That’s when Fabian decided his US operation needed more space. He went back to the team at Chesapeake Economic Development (including Ben White and Von Gilbreath), and the company secured a new Chesapeake location near Bowers Hill.
Today, the company has seven employees, and Fabian hopes to add two more people in 2016. He still lives in Hampton Roads (West Ghent) and oversees the US manufacturing. He also makes frequent trips to US clients as well as operations in China and South Korea.
Ten years after Becker Hydraulics first moved to Hampton Roads, Fabian says he’s still happy with the decision and credits the Alliance for bringing the company to the region. Thomas adds, “Seeing companies like Becker thrive is a great experience but also a great responsibility for the economic development professionals. Family-owned businesses feel the impact immediately. Making sure the companies receive the best service contributes to their success in the USA.”
“I can truly say we would not be here today if they hadn’t supported and accompanied us all these years,” said Fabian. “The Alliance allowed us to build a US presence for our company, and we’re forever grateful.”