SPM Inc. plans to open a plant in Mexico early next month and seriously is considering another factory or two there within two years, to cope with what officials say is a rapid expansion of electronic and telecommunications injection molding in that country.
That comes as the company announced earlier this month it is closing a facility in Denver, and said it plans a series of new facilities and other plant closings that will give it more than 20 plants worldwide, up from 15 now.
Four of the new plants will come in Europe — Germany, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom — with others planned for SÃo Paulo, Brazil, and Malacca, Malaysia.
The growth will be offset somewhat by some unspecified plant closings or ``shrinkage,'' said Andre LeBlanc, chief operating officer of SPM, the plastics unit of Yorktown Heights, N.Y.-based Dynacast International Inc.
``We will be a global player,'' he said.
SPM invested at least $5 million in the Guadalajara, Mexico, plant, and subsequent plants could mean another $10 million spent in short order on Mexican operations, which will focus on its core markets of electronics and telecommunications. Those markets account for 64 percent of the company's sales, LeBlanc said.
SPM's new, 90,000-square-foot Guadalajara plant will open the first week of December with 30 injection molding machines with 28-500 tons of clamping force. The plant will be able to accommodate 18 more machines, LeBlanc said. Guadalajara will be the firm's 16th plant worldwide.
The plant will have full painting capabilities, shielding, a toolroom and secondary assembly.
``Business is migrating to Mexico at a rapid pace,'' LeBlanc said.
Officials declined to disclose the cost, but LeBlanc said SPM plants generally cost $5 million to $8 million.
The Guadalajara plant will do work for IBM, Lucent and Hewlett-Packard and is projected to bring in $20 million in business in its first year, LeBlanc said.
SPM also said it may put a plant in Mexicali or Tijuana, or double the size of the Guadalajara plant in 1998 or 1999 — or do both, LeBlanc said.
The company acknowledged it hit a snag with plans for a new plant in North Carolina, but said it remains committed to replacing its small Hickory, N.C., facility with a nearby location to pursue injection molding opportunities in its core markets.
The site SPM selected was sold to another company, but that will not change its plans to build in the area, he said.
Officials said in August that they planned to close the Hickory and Seneca, S.C., plants, moving production and expanding with the new Conover, N.C., facility. Some Seneca business is being shifted to other plants and some is being sold, he said.
``We will have a state-of-the-art facility in the Southeast,'' LeBlanc said. ``It will be in '98.''
SPM, based in Anaheim, Calif., ranked 13th in Plastics News' 1997 survey of North American injection molders, with $235 million in annual sales.