While not a new market to the moldmaking industry, Mexico has been gaining new attention as rising fuel prices and uncertain conditions overseas are driving an interest in companies manufacturing closer to the U.S. market. According to Maria Elena Rigoli, president of Collectron—a shelter plan program provider in Mexico—they focus on streamlining launching and running a Maquiladora operation, which allows companies to test productivity and product cost savings before committing to incorporating in Mexico.
“In Mexico we have the capacity to design, build, set up and maintain molds,” she elaborates. “Common molds include those for plastic molding and related resins, as well as those for silicon and rubber. Obviously, molds designed for the aerospace, medical or automotive industries must be built to very tight tolerances.” Rigoli adds that technical schools are currently being established in this area.
Mold manufacturers can establish such operations on their own, but using a company that specializes in this has many benefits. Rigoli notes. “Such a company can handle all of the details specific to conducting business in Mexico so that a mold manufacturer can focus on the day-to-day demands, with the flexibility of remaining under the shelter plan program for as long as they wish.”
Rigoli cites the following additional benefits Mexico can offer the moldmaking industry: state and federal relocation grants, depending on the type of operation; 12 trade agreements with 43 different countries; NAFTA agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico; preferential duty treatments under Mexico’s Prosec Program and 8th Rule benefit; 40 years of experience in manufacturing different products; export experience throughout the world; customized site selection and staffing; customized personnel recruitment and on-going human resource administration; guidance and representation for environmental and labor compliance; import/export requirement management; and, consulting on expansion plans/opportunities.
Here is a Collectron customer success story: Anchor Tool & Plastics Inc. (Minneapolis, MN)—a mold manufacturer specializing in the electronics and consumer markets—established operations in Nogales Sonora, Mexico in 1998. According to Anchor Tool President Ron Rogers, as the company watched companies with higher volume leave Minnesota, he had to look at other markets. “A few sales trips to Arizona lead us to a company in Mexico that wanted a quality tooling and molding company to provide control boxes for the cable TV industry. After a lot of deliberation, we decided to put a new plant in Mexico, just south of Tucson, AZ.”
They purchased six new presses and support equipment, and then started to build tools and train associates. “Establishing a start-up in Mexico is different than in the States. Your local bank can't help you out of the country, and there is almost no credit available to you in Mexico,” Rogers explains. So, Anchor used cash from its Minnesota operations to purchase the equipment for its Mexico operations. “We received financing from GE Credit for the last six machines and have since paid off the loan,” Rogers adds.
Rogers notes that Anchor Tool’s customers reap the benefits of this operation. “Because of the lower cost assembly companies we work with, we can provide a molded, assembled and tested subassembly—ready to be added to their product at a cost that allows them to compete and keep jobs in the U.S.”
Fortunately the people of Mexico are hard working and eager to learn, Rogers adds. So Anchor Tool developed a hands-on training program of each aspect of the tooling and molding process in their Minnesota facility and developed a similar training program in Nogales.
“A company's success is largely determined by its ability to keep expenses down and run its operations efficiently,” Rigoli concludes. “Mexico is a strong market for establishing operations in the moldmaking industry.”
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Collectron International Management Inc.