MEXICO CITY - The continuing crisis in the Mexican economy was reflected in the small number of U.S. exhibitors at Plasticos '95, the biennial plastics industry show staged Aug. 15-17 in Mexico City by the U.S. Department of Commerce. While several major machinery firms were represented, some by local agents, the overall turnout was disappointing, with just 30 U.S. companies showing up. Plasticos '93 drew nearly 100 exhibitors.
Plasticos is aimed primarily at introducing U.S. firms to the Mexican market. But the majority of exhibitors already know the market and have attended before. Only four newcomers were at the show, said Bill Vigneault, trade center deputy director.
One bright spot of the event was the high attendance at the technical seminars, which were overbooked, said Vigneault. U.S. firms delivered most of the presentations, although the Mexican plastics industry association, Anipac, and the independent Mexican Plastics Institute (IMPI) presented their views of the state of Mexico's plastics industry.
Exhibitors interviewed at the show agreed that Mexico's economic crisis has bitten deeply into the plastics industry.
``The basic idea is to hang around because better times will come,'' said Luiz Hellbrugge, sales project engineer from blow molding machinery supplier Bekum America Corp. of Williamston, Mich. ``This crisis should be over by mid-1996 or even sooner.''
Recession has created a new problem in Mexico for Bekum -competition from its own used machines, coming onto the market when smaller processors go out of business, said Hellbrugge.
He conceded that financing remains tight in Mexico but said his firm has several potential orders.
``The show size is a little disappointing,'' said Jim Meinert, international marketing director of Snider Mold Co. Inc. of Mequon, Wis.
He is confident the Mexican crisis has bottomed out and said he expects the market to improve early in 1996.
Snider Mold has won automo-tive orders this year from General Motors de Mexico, Campco de Mexico SA de CV and for theater seating and stacking chair molds for Mexico City institutional seating molder Mobiliario SA de CV.
Other major U.S. machine suppliers represented were injection press builder Van Dorn Demag Corp. of Strongsville, Ohio, and Battenfeld Blowmolding Machines Inc. of Boonton, N.J. Avance Industrial SA of Mexico City represents both firms.
Avance's Guillermo Fasterling admitted there has been very little business for Van Dorn in Mexico since the crisis began, but several potential orders are being processed. Avance began representing Van Dorn Demag a year ago. The agent also represents auxiliary equipment maker K-Tron North America of Pitman, N.J., promoting its Colortronic range at the show.
Another returning exhibitor was used-machinery supplier West Suburban Services Inc. of Aurora, Ill., which shared a booth with its Hialeah, Fla., sister firm, Molds Unlimited Inc.
West Suburban's Javier Perez, whose company closed its Mexico City office temporarily in the face of a depressed market earlier this year, said the recession has stiffened the competition in Mexico. But things are looking up now.
Perez expects to win orders for two 1,000-ton injection machines in Mexico - one in Monterrey and the other in Mexico City - by year's end. He also is considering reopening the local office.