NOVI, MICH. — Injection mold toolmaker Aalbers Tool & Mold Inc. is expanding to Mexico with a new plant to set open in September in Querétaro.
The 10,000-square-foot facility will begin with maintenance work for existing customers, but add more capabilities once it is fully established, said owner and CEO Gary Aalbers during a June 11 interview at Amerimold in Novi.
Oldcastle, Ontario-based Aalbers Tools has been hearing from its automotive customers about the need for more mold makers in Mexico, especially with carmakers building new assembly plants in the region.
Having a location in Querétaro will make it possible for Aalbers to do quick turnaround on maintenance and repairs by the end of the year, something it now must either ship to Oldcastle to complete or rely on relations with other toolmakers to provide service.
The plant will be the first for Aalbers Tool outside of Ontario. Last year, the company moved to new facilities covering 100,000 square feet in Oldcastle from a previous nearby location that divided the company between four buildings. The new space provides it with better work flow and faster production, he said. It also added new high-speed machining and EDM centers.
Aalbers started the business in 1982, in the corner of a rented shop. It now has 150 employees in addition to capabilities in lights out production.
In Mexico, construction is still under way at the new plant. A core group of employees from Ontario will help to launch manufacturing and mentor new employees, Aalbers said.
“From what they tell us, there are a lot of dedicated workers there and engineers, but not necessarily [people already] trained in toolmaking,” he said. “Starting down there with maintenance will give us a great chance to train these guys because when you’re maintaining a tool, you take it all apart so you know every piece of it and what needs to be done.”
He expects it will take workers about a month to get equipment set up at the new site.