Hella is one of the top 50 global automotive suppliers and belongs to the 100 largest industrial companies in Germany. Worldwide, 25,000 people are employed in more than 70 manufacturing facilities, production subsidiaries and joint venture deals in 30 countries. Thereof work more than 3,800 engineers and technicians in research and development.
Hella is divided into the lighting business, electronics, and Aftermarket & Special OE. In the future, even business in non-automotive-area should be built up. Turnover for the fiscal year 2010/2011 amounted to approximately 4,4 billion euros.
Manufacturing facilities in Germany are located in Lippstadt, Paderborn, Bremen, Recklinghausen, Hamm (Bockum-Hövel), Nellingen and Wembach. Since 1973, the existing central warehouse in Erwitte operates today as Hella Distribution GmbH.
Hella supports a separate plant fire brigade in various locations.
Sally Windmüller founded the company in 1899 under the name Westfälische Metall-Industrie Aktien-Gesellschaft (WMI) to produce ball horns and candles and kerosene lamps for carriages.
Hella's name first appeared in 1908 as a trademark for acetylene headlights. In 1923, the manufacturing family Lüdenscheider Hueck took over the majority of the shares. The name “Hella” was included in the company name in 1986. The most likely explanation for the Hella brand is attributed to Sally Windmüller: He wanted to honour his wife Helen, in short Hella, and also wanted to use the playful association between this name and the German word hell (bright).
Early internationalization and the creation of a global distribution network in the 1960s resulted in the company developing one of the largest distribution networks in the industry, including its own subsidiaries and partners in numerous markets worldwide.
In 2008, Hella started a joint venture between Hella and Gutmann Messtechnik GmbH, diagnostic specialists, to devote more attention to this area. Also in 2008, it was announced that the company would pay more attention in the future to issues and items that are outside of the traditional automotive domain. That same year, Hella sold Danish subsidiary Holger Christiansen A/S to the automotive supplier Bosch.
Hella consists of four divisions: Lighting, electronics, trade and non-automotive.
In the division lightning, Hella develops and manufactures headlamps, refulgence and interior lighting. Recent innovations include headlights that adapt to the prevailing driving and weather situation. Headlamps with LEDs as light sources for low beam and high beam are already produced in series. An example would be the beams in the Cadillac Escalade Platinum. As daytime running lights, they are in many middle and upper class vehicles often been voted as standard. Camera-based driver-assistance systems provide the next level of innovation. They create new opportunities for optimum light distribution, depending on the traffic situation. For this reason, the company took over AGLAIA, the Berlin-based specialist for visual sensor systems, in 2006. Systems to increase efficiency and safety and comfort systems dominate the electronic product portfolio. These include Data-enabled electronic control units and roof modules as complex light-electronic modules, as well as Vehicle access and driving authorization. Modules for power management to optimise the energy balance of the electrical system and improve the battery charge balance. Innovation and growth area are electronic driver assistance systems. With infrared (lidar), 24-GHz radar and camera and ultrasonic sensors, Hella offers here a powerful technology portfolio and the corresponding series experience. Another important business segment are electronic components such as position sensors, actuators, vacuum pumps and wash water systems.
Hella is one of the world's largest companies selling automotive parts and accessories with its own sales companies and partners in more than 100 countries. Thus Hella supplies the automotive aftermarket and garages with comprehensive and continually growing parts ranges in the core areas of lighting, electrical, electronics and thermal management. In addition, the aftermarket and garages are provided with effective sales support and expert technical service. In 2005, the joint venture Behr Hella Service was established for the collective processing of the global independent aftermarket for vehicle air conditioning and engine cooling.
Through strategic partnerships with companies such as Behr and Plastic Omnium, Hella is well established in other areas, such as front-ends (joint venture HBPO GmbH, Lippstadt), and climate control systems and engine cooling (joint venture BHTC GmbH, Stuttgart).
In addition to car accessories designed for civilian cars, Hella also manufactures special signaling for official emergency vehicles. These include flash beacons and beacons (in blue and yellow), Visual Warning Systems (OWS) and all-round sound combinations (RTK). These are compact roof structures that combine the two blue lights, sirens, and possibly several additional issues. Police, emergency services, fire departments, agencies for technical aid and numerous other operators of deployment and use special vehicles use them. Also part of the product range of authorities, are headlights on the bumper and some other products (e.g., covert special signal for civilian emergency vehicles).
The New Zealand subsidiary Hella New Zealand Limited provides the Hella marine lights program for marine use. These include not only the mast and interior lighting with LED technology and lighting systems for boat trailers.