Dollars, diversity and adding value have been key to the success of an export-oriented Mex-ican injection molder that has boosted sales in six years from less than US$1 million to US$12 million. From a strong engineering plastics molding base, Electronicos Animados SA de CV of Monterrey, Mexico, has grown rapidly with maquiladora and other U.S. clients. Today, the company is set on adding value by expanding its product assembly services.
It also is preparing to add some larger injection presses to its existing 25 machines, 23 of which are Nissei models with clamping forces as great as 1,000 tons.
The firm is likely to order as many as four new Nissei presses this year, for delivery in 1997, said the company's American export manager, George W. Davis.
``It's not a cheap machine, but it is worth its value in productivity and ability to make parts for sophisticated clients,'' Davis said.
With more, larger presses, Electronicos will need to enlarge capacity at the growing mold shop of its 70,000-square-foot plant, located at an industrial site in the Apodaca district.
``Our plan is to get more aggressive in in-house mold making,'' and, Davis said, this is an attractive service that brings in new business if reasonably priced.
Cushioned from the worst effects of Mexico's devastating devaluation crisis by its longtime policy of doing business in dollars, Electronicos is capitalizing on the country's current export advantage. Conscious of the danger of overreliance on any one sector, the Monterrey molder has diversified widely. It now makes a variety of products, ranging from automotive, electronic and telephone components to toy guitars and wheelchair wheels.
Electronicos, founded by President Sergio Villarreal 16 years ago, moved into its new plant a year ago. The US$5 million expansion from a 20,000-square-foot plant involved buying about a dozen new Nissei presses.
Villarreal, who also is president of the plastics section of the Nuevo Leon state industry chamber CAINTRA, is convinced of the value of working for Mexico's buoyant maquiladora sector.
``We're looking mainly to the maquila program because of the volumes. You don't have so many big numbers in price terms, but you have them in volumes.''
Maquila market consumption of plastics parts and products in 1994 represented roughly 20 percent of the total Mexican market, according to Anipac, Mexico's plastics industry association.
Currently, half of Electronicos' sales is indirect export devoted to the in-bond sector, while 35 percent is direct export to U.S. firms across the nearby border.
One of the molder's biggest contracts involves shipping six truckloads of nylon wheelchair wheels and other parts to Invermex, a maquila operation in Reynosa, Mexico, that assembles the wheelchairs for Ohio company Invercare Inc.
The molder already employs 80 workers in its assembly lines, out of a total work force of 250. It expects to decide this year on a plan to expand assembly operations by another 40,000-50,000 square feet in 1997.
Electronicos also is looking to expand its automotive sector work. It already produces large-mold front splash guards for Ford Motor Co.'s local plastic parts operation, Carplastic SA de CV, according to Davis.
Since his firm already has won formal approval as a vendor from General Motors Corp.'s Mexico City-based parts supplier Delphi, Electronicos is confident it will win new work from the auto giant.
The molder also is awaiting approval from Chrysler Corp. in Detroit to supply Chrysler's Tier 1 parts supplier Lear Seating with whole center consoles for the Dodge Ram Charger, Davis said. It expects a decision later in May.
Dollar power has kept the Mexican molder afloat and growing despite the harsh domestic recession. Exporting has enabled the firm not only to work its plant at 80 percent capacity, but also allowed it to invest in machinery.