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Fischer grows with the Mexican auto market

By: Stephen Downer

February 25, 2014

CORDOBA, MEXICO — Fischer SA de CV is an example of how a company can grow in Mexico by diversifying.

Formed in 1998 as a joint venture between Swiss blow and injection molder Fischer Söhne AG and a group of Mexican investors, and now a wholly owned Mexican company, it has always manufactured large fluid containers for the food, agricultural chemical, chemical and cleaning industries.

But in 2006, it entered the automotive market, becoming a Tier 2 supplier. Today automotive customers account for 29 percent of its $20 million in annual sales.

The company, which employs 193, has grown at an average of 14 percent a year since 2008, according to managing director Roberto Rodríguez Layún, whose growth target this year is 5 percent.

"We have a clear goal to continue our expansion in the automotive market, taking advantage of the strong position Mexico has gained from the most important (automakers) worldwide," he told Plastics News by email.

Mexico's automotive industry is one of the world's fastest growing. It assembled a record 2.9 million light vehicles in 2013, 1.7 percent more than in 2012, and is heading for an output of 4 million by 2019, experts predict.

Fischer is located in the state of Veracruz, 120 miles from Volkswagen AG's assembly plant in Puebla.

"We manufacture eight parts for the VW Golf Variant," Rodríguez said. "All of them are for the trunk. [There are] two blow molded parts and six injected parts. … So every time you open the trunk of this car, no matter whether it's in America or Europe, you can see Fischer quality on display."

The Variant is the German-language market name for VW's station wagons.

Fischer also supplies parts for Fiat Chrysler, General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co., through Tier 1 suppliers.

In packaging, Fischer's clients include Coca-Cola Co. concentrate plants in Mexico, Costa Rica and Puerto Rico, Givaudan SA, Bayer AG, PepsiCo Inc. and Henkel AG & Co. KGaA.

KraussMaffei supplies all of Fischer's injection molding presses, whose clamping forces range from 50-350 tons. The newest, a machine with a clamping force of 130 tons, was installed in 2013.

Rodríguez said all the company's presses are hydraulic and said that "we are evaluating [the purchase of] a 600-ton electric press this year."

KautexMaschinenbau supplies the technology for Fischer's blow molding operations. The company's products include containers ranging from 1.05-52.8 gallons and barrier technologies for the handling of hazardous materials.

The company consumes about 5,500 tons of resin annually, including polyethylene, polypropylene, ABS, polyphthalamide, and polyphenylene sulfide, per year.

"The name of the game in this and other industries is people," Rodríguez said. "We have started a very ambitious program to form and train what we call the Fischer Family.

"Currently all production supervisors and quality engineers have a bachelor's degree and we expect to have all operators with at least a technical degree in the next five years. Proficiency in English is important and currently we train our personnel to achieve this skill from supervisor level to management positions. We are a young plant. The average age is 30."

Asked how optimistic he is about the company's future, Rodríguez replied: "Very. There's a great deal of opportunity in Mexico in the manufacturing industry at the moment. The automotive market, especially, is showing strong growth."

Major auto brands are assembling new models in Mexico, he said, "giving us an opportunity to quote [for] new parts produced in Mexico instead of [in] other countries."