After testing the waters in Guadalajara, Mexico, with a small plant, Trend Technologies Inc. is building a major electronics-parts molding facility there. The San Jose, Calif.-based company will open the first phase of a projected 194,000-square-foot plant by the end of September, said Mark Brosius, Trend vice president for product development and technology.
The plant will make a range of plastic electronics parts, including enclosures and printer assemblies.
The company will install injection molding, testing and assembly equipment for the project's first phase, using about half the square footage of the completed plant, Brosius said. Trend plans to add 30 injection presses with clamping forces of 45-1,000 tons.
Trend will bring metal stamping to the site in the second phase, due for completion in the second quarter of 2001.
The company also formed a tooling joint venture with Guadalajara-based Grupo Ferrau SA de CV. The 50-50 venture, called Trend Ferrau, is making injection molds and dies at Ferrau's existing plant. In 2001, the company plans to fold the tooling operations into Trend's new plant, Brosius said.
Trend will invest $16 million in building and equipment for the new plant, Brosius said.
The expansion plan, in the works before Trend's March sale to London-based investment firm Doughty Hanson & Co. Ltd., helps the company meet the demands of a rising number of customers in the Guadalajara area, Brosius said.
Trend started a small, 16,000-square-foot molding plant in Guadalajara 18 months ago with nine molding machines. During the next year, that plant will close and work will shift to the new facility.
"Guadalajara has become such a dominant center for electronics manufacturing," said Brosius in an April 12 telephone interview. "By opening an existing molding operation there first, we had the opportunity to get to know the market before starting a full-scale facility."
A combination of low labor rates, skilled workers and reduced shipping costs make Mexico a desirable spot for electronics companies, he said.
Other electronics-parts molders are following suit. Bermo Inc., a Circle Pines, Minn.-based molder and toolmaker, has doubled the size of its Guadalajara plant after opening it in 1998.
Doughty Hanson wants to build Trend into a dominant worldwide maker of electronics enclosures, said Jacqueline Reses, a partner in the company's New York office.
Trend currently is considering new plant sites in Southeast Asia and Europe, said marketing director John Millis.
Trend has eight facilities throughout North America and in Ireland. The company will add 500-900 employees in Mexico once the project is completed, Brosius said. Currently, Trend has about 2,800 workers.
Trend ranked 18th in Plastics News' recent listing of North American injection molders, with $308 million in relevant sales last year. Millis said he expects sales to surpass $400 million in 2000.