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Wittmann Battenfeld forms unit to deal with maquiladora customers

By: Stephen Downer

April 4, 2014

GUADALAJARA, MEXICO — Wittmann Battenfeld Inc, of Torrington, Conn, has formed a company exclusively to handle business with Mexico’s flourishing maquiladora industry.

The new company, Wittmann Battenfeld Maquilas Inc, is headquartered in El Paso, Texas. Its president is David Rodrigo Muñoz Barrera, who also is managing director of the Austrian machinery maker’s Mexican subsidiary, Wittmann Battenfeld México SA de CV, based in Querétaro, central Mexico.

“Previously Wittmann Battenfeld in the United States covered Mexico” with technical support and service, Muñoz Barrera told Plastics News at Expo Plásticos Guadalajara. “Sometimes language was a problem. This is why we have this new unit.”

The maquiladora industry in Mexico comprises about 6,000 companies, many of them situated in towns close to the Mexico-US border. It employs 2.3 million and accounts for 80 percent of the country’s non-petroleum exports, according to Index, an acronym for Consejo Nacional de la Industria Maquiladora y Manufactura de Exportación AC, an umbrella organization for 20 maquiladora associations across Mexico.

According to Index’s president, Emilio Cadena Rubio, 40-50 percent of Index’s members supply the automotive industry “and many of them have injection molding operations.”

Wittmann Battenfeld has 500 maquiladora customers, Muñoz Barrera said, adding that the new company employs a total of seven engineers and sales people.

“We have sold some machinery since Wittmann Battenfeld Maquilas was set up [in June 2013]. By making this change we increased the confidence of those customers in us.”

Muñoz Barrera said the market the new company serves has “huge potential” because, he said, “the security issues have been solved, especially in Tijuana. Many companies are opening new facilities there and in Mexicali.”

The first quarter of 2013 was the best-ever for Wittmann Battenfeld in Mexico, with orders showing a 20 percent increase on the same quarter in 2013. “The reason is automotive,” he said.

Sixty percent of the company’s business in Mexico is automotive, with the rest coming from domestic appliances, electronics, cosmetics and packaging.