Plastics News correspondent Roger Renstrom reported these items from the Otay Mesa Chamber of Commerce's trade show Expo Otay, held Feb. 26 in San Diego.
Shape molder plans packaging in Mexico
Shape molder Foam Fabricators Inc. plans to begin production in May of expanded polystyrene packaging in a 63,000-square-foot, leased plant in Tijuana, Mexico, that eventually will employ 50.
The firm will transfer existing Tijuana-area customers' work, mostly packaging for electronic products, from a Foam Fabricators plant in Compton, Calif., and develop additional business.
The site has space for expansion and is Foam Fabricators' first outside the United States. The firm has 12 U.S. plants. All can shape mold EPS, and some also work with expanded polypropylene, expanded polyethylene and expanded copolymers. The Tijuana plant will add capabilities, as needed, to shape those materials.
Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Foam Fabricators employs about 350, has sales of more than $60 million and, in addition to electrical packaging, molds refrigerator insulation, automotive parts, bicycle helmet liners and returnable packaging.
S.E. Asian crisis lures suppliers to Mexico
The economic crisis in Southeast Asia is pushing plastic-part suppliers and others to relocate nearer the Tijuana, Mexico, operations of brand-name original equipment suppliers, Tomas Sibaja said in an interview. He is vice president of international operations for Mexican industrial park developer Grupo Barsac.
``The Southeast Asian market was booming . . . [but in the] last six months, the bubble burst,'' Sibaja said. ``Companies from Taiwan that never heard about'' Tijuana are relocating there in a natural transition process that is moving faster.
Sibaja sees injection molding operations becoming vertically integrated with electronics manufacturers.
Grupo Barsac has five industrial parks in Tijuana and a sixth in nearby Rosarito and continues to open new properties. Businesses occupy more than 40 percent of Grupo Barsac's current inventory of more than 4,900 acres.
Golf clubs are boon for PE bag producers
``Plastics in the golf club industry in San Diego County exceeds $3 million a year,'' John Swem, president of distributor Swe-Jon Flexible Packaging Inc., said in an interview. The region teems with shaft and club production, in part because more Asian companies have opened operations and mainline domestic activity has boomed.
The industry in San Diego County is using anywhere from 700,000 to a million bags a month to protect golf shafts en route to final assembly of the clubs, Swem said. A year ago, the volume was ``maybe 200,000 a month.'' The 2-mil-thick 2-by-48-inch polyethylene bags are imported mainly from Taiwan and China.
``Nobody in the U.S. wants to make them because they run so slow,'' he said. ``You've got to commit a machine and people for a while.''
The smallest domestic bag he's found is 21/4 inches wide. Swem said processors in Paso Robles and Santa Fe Springs, Calif., and elsewhere make 6-inch-wide PE bags to hold finished clubs after head and grip attachment.
Swe-Jon in Chula Vista, Calif., supplies PE bags, zipper locks and pallet wraps.