At just 38, Shandrus Hohne de Carvalho has spent the past two decades climbing the ranks to become marketing director of Bosch Garden and Watering, a position he assumed in 2011. A native Brazilian, de Carvalho spent several years of his career with Bosch Latin America, where he oversaw the firm’s Power Tools, Skil brand division in 19 countries, before taking on the challenge of developing Bosch Garden and Watering in the U.S. Now a central Illinois transplant, de Carvalho says he’s established a deeper connection to his new home since the birth of his daughter, Caroline, in Peoria last April.

Tell us more about Bosch’s operations around the world, and in Peoria, specifically.
The Bosch Group is a leading global supplier of technology and services. In 2012, its roughly 306,000 associates generated sales of €52.5 billion. Since the beginning of 2013, its operations have been divided into four business sectors: automotive technology, industrial technology, consumer goods, and energy and building technology. The Bosch Group is comprised of Robert Bosch GmbH and its roughly 360 subsidiaries and regional companies in some 50 countries. If its sales and services partners are included, Bosch is represented in roughly 150 countries. This worldwide development, manufacturing and sales network is the foundation for further growth.

Bosch Garden and Watering established its headquarters in Peoria, Illinois, in 2008 when Bosch acquired the Nelson and Sunterra brands from L.R. Nelson Corporation. Bosch Garden and Watering, a business unit within Robert Bosch Tool Corporation, the North American location of the global Power Tools Division of the Bosch Group, employs roughly 270 associates working in areas such as manufacturing, engineering, marketing, logistics and sales.

The Bosch Group presence in North America includes 19 divisions, representing business areas ranging from original automotive equipment and aftermarket solutions to industrial drives and control technology, security and communication systems, packaging technology, thermo technology, and power tools to household appliances, healthcare telemedicine and software solutions engineered, manufactured and sold in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Having established a regional presence in 1906, Bosch employs nearly 24,600 associates in more than 100 locations, with consolidated sales of $10.6 billion in fiscal year 2012.

How did Bosch, renowned for its automotive and building products, come to expand into the lawn and garden market?
The Robert Bosch Tool Corporation is part of the consumer goods business sector, and like the other business units within the sector, Bosch Garden and Watering is a major player in one of the biggest “do it yourself” (DIY) categories in the U.S., with the responsibility of making our users’ lives easier and more enjoyable while we contribute to the creation of a sustainable environment for future generations.

How has the 2008 acquisition of the Nelson and Sunterra brands impacted Bosch’s Garden and Watering business?
The acquisition of the Nelson and Sunterra brands was a major step in the garden area because it led to the creation of Bosch Garden and Watering by combining these two brands with the existing Gilmour brand. The acquisition expanded our capabilities and created differentiation in the market by capitalizing on our own manufacturing, engineering and marketing expertise. The acquisition made it possible for us to develop products and services aligned with the needs of our users and customers, and to bring innovations to the market that will benefit both the users and the environment.

The former L.R. Nelson Corporation was headquartered in Peoria. How has Bosch expanded its operations in central Illinois since the acquisition?
Bosch Garden and Watering produces, under its own Gilmour and Nelson brands, hoses, nozzles, sprinklers, timers, tank sprayers, accessories and pruning tools in a larger scale for the U.S. and Canadian markets. Our logistics and manufacturing operations in the Midwest support the strategy of national distribution, with a strong focus on service level, which means being able to deliver products on time with full availability.

How has Bosch Garden and Watering designed its products to be more environmentally friendly?
This is one of the biggest priorities of our product development. First of all, Bosch has already defined a global protocol that guarantees a more sustainable and environmentally friendly selection of raw materials in our products. One example of our environmental friendly products are the Gilmour and Nelson electronic programmable timers, which have an automatic shut-off valve that turns off the flow of water when the battery power gets extremely low. This feature saves water and money.

Another interesting example is our Water Saving Sprinkler, which raises water conservation to an art form. DuoCyll motor technology and a tri-channel spray tube reduce the height of the spray in the middle of the oscillation so the water is less exposed to wind and less likely to end up where it shouldn’t, saving up to 25 percent of water consumption.

An additional initiative we are taking is regarding the presence of lead in brass components. Consumers are used to brass because they think it is durable and crush- and corrosion-resistant. The fact is that we as manufacturers have the responsibility to find a better solution and offer an option that is healthier, more environmentally friendly, and that also provides better quality and durability to the product.

What new lawn and garden technologies are on the horizon?
We have many awesome innovations coming up and in our development pipeline, all related to providing a better solution for users to become more successful in gardening. The Bosch slogan, “Invented for life,” embodies the principle of our founder, Robert Bosch, and represents our commitment to our customers from Bosch Garden and Watering. Soon, our U.S. consumers will have the opportunity to enjoy some new innovations and inventions that will solve some of their biggest frustrations and provide more convenience, ease of use and product durability. In addition, with the unique design of the Gilmour and Nelson products, gardeners of all levels of expertise will feel proud to own such outstanding tools that help them to become more successful in their gardening projects.

Bosch Gardening & Watering is also invested in social responsibility projects locally. Tell us about your work with Gifts in the Moment.
Bosch Garden and Watering is sponsoring a garden to support Gifts in the Moment (GITM) to serve the less fortunate people in Peoria with healthy produce. Bosch Garden and Watering helps in building raised garden beds, filling them with soil mixtures and planting vegetables. After building the garden, we are setting up sprinklers, water timers and hoses to water the garden efficiently. Bosch associates are welcome and encouraged to spend time in the garden during office hours to help maintain the garden. Every Wednesday, GITM provides the vegetables from the garden to the people in the area at its urban farmers’ market at no charge.

The local people will benefit from the healthy produce and also learn about different kinds of vegetables. The goal is to provide free vegetables and education. The people from the area, especially kids, are welcome to help with planting, maintaining and harvesting the vegetables. We want to promote healthy garden practices that also show eating and living healthily can be fun.

What other local organizations have you collaborated with?
As a socially responsible company with strong local commitments, we have contributed to local organizations such as The Center for Prevention of Abuse, Easter Seals, Midwest Food Bank, Friendship House and St. Jude, in addition to our involvement with Gifts in the Moment.

What is on the horizon for Bosch? How do you see its work in Peoria evolving in the future?
We at Bosch Garden and Watering are looking forward to a bright future in Peoria for our company and our associates. We are always mindful of our social responsibility to support community efforts to help those in need and plan to continue participating in projects such as the community garden and Gifts in the Moment. By always taking the needs of the user into consideration and by developing products that will offer innovative solutions, Bosch Garden and Watering is assured of continual growth and expansion in the United States. iBi