MEXICO CITY — Auxiliary equipment maker AEC Inc. is broadening its global presence by stepping up activity in Brazil and China after coming off a year of record sales in Mexico.
Despite the current economic crisis in Brazil, the Wood Dale, Ill., company has opened a new sales, service and parts-distribution center in SÃo Paulo, and is doing the same in Shanghai, China, said Larry Bowman, vice president of international sales for AEC Sterling Corp., which owns AEC Inc. and other plastics equipment companies.
Bowman, in a Feb. 10 interview at Plastimagen '99 in Mexico City, admitted that business in Brazil is flat, but said AEC views the current problems as a chance to establish a presence there, much as it did in Mexico around the time of the drastic peso devaluation.
Bowman said that strategy took time but has paid off, with AEC sales in Mexico growing 40 percent last year over 1997, to an unspecified level. That is the reward for bringing trained service people to the country in 1994, beginning to stock parts locally and signing up three regional distributors in Mexico, he said.
AEC is taking a similar tack in Brazil, by far the largest market in Latin America. It just named Automaq Representacoes Ltda. to be its exclusive sales representative in Brazil, and has opened a three-person office in SÃo Paulo. Automaq will provide systems design, installation and service for AEC's full product range.
AEC also has begun work with a local Brazilian university, as it already is doing in Mexico. Bowman said AEC is donating equipment and staff time to strengthen ties to the local markets and to identify talented young workers.
The Sao Paulo office is the first AEC-owned operation in South America and will be the regional headquarters for expanding business on the continent.
``We see growth in Argentina, Venezuela and Chile,'' he said, in addition to in Brazil eventually. The company will exhibit at Brasilplast in March.
Halfway around the world, meanwhile, AEC is about to lease office space in Shanghai to support its office in Singapore. The firm works with Hong Kong Nylon, one of China's longest-established plastics equipment distributors, Bowman said.