Puget Plastics Corp. SA de CV has reduced its dependence on contract manufacturers and achieved certification under ISO 9002.
``We have a cost model that has allowed us to diversify,'' Andre Savelieff, manufacturing director and general manager, told the SPI Global Business Council during a March 19 tour of the Tlajomulco de ZúÃ±iga plant. ``We are diversifying in nonelectronics products'' with consumer and commercial applications.
At one time, 95 percent of the plant's output went to contract manufacturers. ``Now, we are supplying 60 percent'' to those customers, he said.
Also, Savelieff addressed a dinner meeting about doing business in the Guadalajara area.
``You cannot compete with Asia when you talk about shiploads,'' he said, ``but you can work short to medium-size runs'' requiring quick changes and just-in-time deliveries.
One Puget customer has requirements to produce 25 different stock-keeping units, or SKUs. ``We have to get that on Monday and ship on Friday,'' Savelieff said. ``How to do it is the tricky part.''
Factors in the Mexico equation include legal and regulatory, location and logistics and ``crucial human'' aspects.
For example, Puget rents three buses to transport contract workers from the town of Zacoalco de Torres. Savelieff described initial recruitment there.
``We go to that town, talk to the mayor and the priest and describe the company,'' he said.
Puget may take 60 prospects through a program of introduction, training and testing. ``After three days, we may get 20 people'' suitable for the work, he said.
Puget employs 380-410, about 60 percent on contract, and operates 47 presses with clamping forces of 40-720 tons.
The 95,000-square-foot facility has 220 tools.
Parent firm Puget Plastics Corp. in Tigard, Ore., established the Tlajomulco de ZúÃ±iga site in early 1998 ``to get close to a customer who did not want to ship distances,'' he said. Puget Plastics has another plant in Long Beach, Miss.
The suburban industrial site lacks running water - unlike central Guadalajara - although the industrial park has a well with a 50-year-old permit.
``We don't have much control there'' and encounter stiff charges for consumption, Savelieff said. The rainy season helps replenish the water table and well level. ``We have to truck water'' to the plant, he said. In establishing the facility, ``we planned towers. We used chillers.''
Puget has a joint venture, Mendoza-Puget Tool Co., with local tool maintenance.