MEXICO CITY – Concours Mold Inc. is investing $5.5 million to almost double the size of its manufacturing facility in southeastern Mexico.
"We're planning to break ground this month or the beginning of April and it [the extension] should be operational by September," Tom Drake, Concours Mold's director of business development, told Plastics News at the Plastimagen trade show on March 12 in Mexico City.
The Lakeshore, Ontario, company, which also has a large facility in Cullman, Ala., opened the 20,000 square foot plant in Huejotzingo, in the state of Puebla, in July 2010. It will add 15,000 square feet of space by the end of the year.
Concours Mold was the second largest mold maker in North America in 2012, according to Plastics News' ranking, with annual sales of $75 million. Drake said the Huejotzingo plant posted 2012 sales of about $5 million.
"This year we're looking to do 100 million pesos ($8.1 million) in Mexico," he said. The plant employs about 50 and primarily serves the rapidly expanding Mexican automotive industry.
"The Mexican market is booming and we're finding new customers all the time," he explained, adding that he expects business in the country to continue to grow "for a long time."
The expansion will include new equipment from Makino Inc., OKK USA Corp. and Kuraki Co. Ltd.
Drake said Concours is the largest tool shop in Mexico, and is helping to fill a skills gap that has many within the Mexican plastics industry worried.
At a conference last fall, Sergio Beutelspacher Sandoval, a Mexican machinery executive, complained that his company's main problem was the lack of qualified staff. "The whole culture of toolmaking and other trades is being lost," he said.
Drake said Concours employs 12 mold makers in Mexico, one of whom was among five Concours staff members transferred from Lakeshore to Mexico. "It's been a challenge to find young people in Mexico and training them," he said.
Training takes place in Mexico and Canada.
One young Mexican making a career with the company is Mario Maqueda, a junior designer in his twenties. "I'm an engineer and started as a program manager," he said in good English. "I've spent a total of two and a half months in Canada training there."