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Observations on Setting Up a Moldmaking Operation in Mexico

MoldMaking Technology editorial advisory board member Tim Krieger of Krieger Craftsmen Inc. shares some observations made while establishing a new operation in Guadalajara, Mexico.
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Tim Krieger, MMT EAB member and owner of Krieger Craftsmen Inc. in Grand Rapids, Michigan, says that as an American moldmaker, he has learned a lot from his quest to open a new operation in Guadalajara, Mexico, and he shares some of those teachings here.

My father once told me that “a man can only make decisions based on the information he has at the time.” For those who are considering expanding into Mexico or are just curious, I would like to share some takeaways from my experiences.

My father once told me that “a man can only make decisions based on the information he has at the time.”

Communications—It is not just the language barrier. My employees in Guadalajara all speak English, but at different levels. However, the internet in Mexico frequently goes down, making it necessary for me to find a reliable alternative, other than email, for communicating. WhatsApp Business is a secure tool used for international communications by North American businesses. It enables meetings through video chat plus, it is possible to send large files with instant delivery.

Opportunity—For many years, original equipment manufacturers have been developing business in Mexico to take advantage of lower-cost labor and to produce mass quantities of products. This is true not only in the automotive sector, but in all aspects of plastic-injection molding and assembly. Even though the current tariffs are being imposed and the trade wars are extremely relevant, there is a lot of opportunity for moldmaking in Mexico.

The People of Mexico—The people in Mexico that I have met, employed and with whom I have engaged are world-class people. I have been honored to bring my Mexican employees (of which there are currently 10 who are full-time) to my Grand Rapids, Michigan, shop for training. Additionally, I am sending my Grand Rapids employees to our shop in Guadalajara. Because of this cross training, we are bonding both personally and technologically, and our teams are talking to each other versus always looking to the boss for support.

Because of this cross training, we are bonding both personally and technologically, and our teams are talking to each other versus always looking to the boss for support.

I have also found that networking for the purposes of finding and attracting the right people to hire in Mexico is no different than it is here. Word-of-mouth advertising is good advertising, and we must offer competitive benefits and a safe, clean working environment.

Transportation and Border Concerns—We have learned to be careful when making promises to customers because clearing customs to ship mold components from the United States to Mexico does not always go smoothly. Sometimes we must go to extremes to get product over the border on time. For example, we bought a first-class plane ticket to make an emergency delivery to the Texas border where my Mexican employees came over to take the replacement componentry personally through customs. Similarly, purchasing equipment like micrometers and other tools and getting it through customs and to the shop in Guadalajara has sometimes taken weeks. It took a month to deliver a welder.

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