TriQuest Precision Plastics is completing the initial ramp-up at a new Guadalajara, Mexico, facility but still considers that area's manufacturing viability an experiment.
The Guadalajara investment is ``not without risk at this time,'' Brent Stumbaugh, TriQuest president and chief executive officer, said in a telephone interview.
Original equipment manufacturers, contract manufacturers and second-tier suppliers ``have to prove it is competitive on a worldwide basis'' to justify heavy investments in Guadalajara, he said.
Much of the investment is betting on the success of future programs and the ability of Guadalajara ``to compete against other low-cost environments,'' such as Asia and Eastern Europe.
Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM, Lucent Technologies Inc. and NEC Corp. are some OEMs active in the market.
As for custom injection molder TriQuest: ``We are putting another platform down and looking for synergistic customers or suppliers,'' Stumbaugh said.
TriQuest entered the Guadalajara market in 1996, initially assuming management control and then ownership of Phoenix International SA de CV and a 20-acre site. That operation, now TriQuest Guadalajara, employs 750, has 38 injection molding presses with clamping forces of 55-400 tons and occupies two facilities totaling about 75,000 square feet.
The operation molds and assembles coin and bill validation systems and other products.
Next door, TriQuest built a 100,000-square-foot plant and, in mid-March, began the initial ramp-up of 23 presses with clamping forces of 55-850 tons.
Government and business leaders were invited to a May 13 ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house.
About 50 work in the new facility now, but employment could exceed 350 by year's end, Stumbaugh said. The facility can handle about 60 machines, depending on press sizes.
TriQuest makes plastic components and housings for high-technology, telecommunication and appliance applications. The new building includes a tool shop, paint and shielding facility and a clean room.
Three more 100,000-square-foot buildings could fit on the site, if TriQuest chooses to make further investment.
Sealaska Corp. of Juneau, Alaska, acquired 90 percent of Vancouver, Wash.-based TriQuest in December and now operates TriQuest as a subsidiary.
Besides Vancouver and Guadalajara, TriQuest has operations in Calgary, Alberta; Baxter, Minn.; and Seattle. By year's end, the firm expects to employ about 2,000 in North America.