Parts suppliers Blue Water Plastics Inc. and Zapata Envases SA de CV are expanding their Campco de Mexico plant near Mexico City as their carmaking customers continue to march into that region.
The companies are joint venture partners in the Tultitl n, Mexico, injection molding and thermoforming plant, which makes automotive and housewares products. The expansion, which is nearly complete, will increase the plant's size by 60 percent, from 81,000 square feet to about 129,000 square feet.
Blue Water, based in Marysville, Mich., and Zapata, based in Cuautitl n, Mexico, are investing more than $5 million in the project, said Joseph Bostater, Blue Water's vice president of international operations.
The expansion includes 10 new Cincinnati Milacron injection presses with clamping forces of 500-1,500 tons.
The added equipment is needed to support the plant's considerable growth during the past three years, Bostater said. The outfit's sales nearly have tripled since 1994 and should double this year to $15 million, he said.
``It comes from a combination of a lot of different business that we've been able to pick up,'' Bostater said. ``Most of the work goes to [assembly] plants in Mexico. We expect the growth to continue in the country, and we're seeing new business there all the time.''
That growth is especially prominent in the auto industry. Several carmakers have opened assembly plants near the facility's location outside Mexico City. They include Volkswagen de Mexico SA de CV, which makes its new Beetle and several other models from a Puebla, Mexico, facility.
The supplier landed a contract to provide interior trim for the Beetle, which started production in July. Volkswagen plans to raise production at the Puebla plant to 450,000 units by 2000, largely due to the Beetle's popularity.
The VW contract was secured by Lichtenberg, Germany-based auto supplier IBS Brocke GmbH. IBS, which has a strategic alliance with Blue Water, is providing production tooling for the trim parts.
The plant also has new contracts with Chrysler Corp. to mold seating side shields and fender liners for the Dodge Ram pickup truck, Bostater said. The seating parts will be sent to a nearby assembly plant owned by Lear Corp. of Southfield, Mich. Other auto customers include Nissan, General Motors and Ford.
Automotive business accounts for about 70 percent of the plant's output, with household goods also produced there. The facility makes small-appliance housings for Sunbeam Corp.
With the 48,000-square-foot expansion, Campco will increase the number of injection presses at the plant to 25, with clamping forces of 85-1,500 tons. The plant also has three sheet extruders, and the firms have added new robotic manufacturing equipment and other support pieces.
Nine of the 10 new presses were installed recently, Bostater said. The other press will be added by early next year.
Blue Water bought into the Campco de Mexico plant in 1993 as a wedge into the rapidly expanding Mexican market. The company owns 40 percent of the joint venture, with Zapata holding the remaining 60 percent.
The Michigan firm ranked 45th in Plastics News' survey of North American injection molders, with $110.9 million in related sales.
Together, Blue Water and its various alliance partners recorded $450 million in sales last year.