Flying into a cross-current of economic turmoil, Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd. is opening a new, hands-on technical center in Brazil as a magnet to attract automotive suppliers and packaging companies.
Husky, based in Bolton, Ontario, is investing more than US$7 million to set up a showcase operation for its line of injection presses, mold-making equipment and manufacturing services.
The 25,000-square-foot center, due to officially open in April, also will offer customers a rare commodity in South America: the ability to repair molds and store spare parts for presses and molds, said Rodolfo Selem, general manager of Husky's Latin American operations.
``A [mold repair] project that could take a week to do can take over a month when a customer has to ship molds in and out of the country,'' he said. ``We can save a lot of bureaucratic headaches by having one of the only mold servicing operations in Brazil.''
The center, located about 50 miles from SÃo Paulo, Brazil, is opening in the midst of a Brazilian financial crisis. The country's currency, the real, has undergone a devaluation that could limit foreign imports.
The economic correction was bound to happen and could make the country stronger in the long run, Selem said. Local companies could benefit from the currency slide, while the economy could end up more stable, he added.
``When it does turn around, we'll be in a better position than anyone else,'' Selem said.
That company is banking that the center will almost double Brazilian sales within three years, from about US$30 million last year to more than US$50 million by 2002, Selem said.
The full-service operation will showcase new injection presses. It also will include complete injection molding systems assembly, including robotic assembly and manufacturing cells, and customer training.
Husky is gaining new business in Brazil. Auto supplier Decoma International Inc. of Concord, Ontario, plans to open a 130,000-square-foot molding plant this fall in Juiz de Fora, Brazil, and add two large-tonnage Husky presses.
The plant will injection mold bumper fascias, fenders and liftgates for the Mercedes-Benz A class city cars.