A privately owned, independent plastics consulting company in Mexico City has added new educational and training facilities to its year-old headquarters and plans to launch Mexico's first plastics magazine this year.
The 18-year-old Instituto Mexicano del Plastico Industrial SC, or IMPI, is run by the husband-and-wife team of Rafael Blanco Vargas, its president, and MÃ³nica Conde Ortiz, its director general. The 20-employee group now works out of a modest but modern, five-story facility just south of the sprawling center of Mexico City.
Conde gave a private tour of the facility one morning before the opening of the Plastimagen trade show across town.
Part of the building's ground floor, adjacent to the reception area, contains an 80-ton Demag injection press. A small, Argentine-made blown film line that normally is present was absent during the visit since it was on display that week at Plastimagen. Conde said the company plans to install a blow molding machine in November. The equipment is used for hands-on training.
``We buy the machines,'' she said, though on favorable payment terms from cooperative suppliers. IMPI stresses its independent status, and does not want any strings attached.
The company began in 1984 as a training service for shop-floor processor workers, then shifted its focus to top-level executives. In 1994 it started Centro Empresarial del Pl stico SA de CV to offer extensive training courses that can result in the awarding of a plastics diploma.
Participants attend two days a week, from 5-8 p.m., for eight months, and must propose and complete an industry-related business research project. Conde said CEP, as that unit is known, has given out some 350 diplomas to date, mostly to top-level officers from processor and supplier companies. IMPI charges each student about $580 per month, or roughly $4,640 for the entire course, which includes a four-volume plastics encyclopedia that it published in 2000.
Adjacent to an upper-floor conference and training area is a permanent exhibition space IMPI finished outfitting in August. The area, which it calls the plastics pavilion, currently houses about 15 different company displays, all related to this month's theme of plastics additives. Companies pay about $1,500 a month to display products, promotional samples and materials.
``We help companies to sell their products,'' Conde said.
Officials from the exhibiting companies also get to provide speakers for morning technical conferences that IMPI schedules and promotes. Anywhere from 25-100 people pay IMPI a modest fee to attend the almost-daily conferences.
The company plans to rotate the exhibit and the related conference topics monthly, with olefinic raw materials due up next.
IMPI also offers a broad slate of other courses, most lasting one to three days, covering such topics as plastics recycling, additives, statistical process control, and injection molding and molds.
It is planning an extrusion course, now that it has a new film extrusion machine, and continues, after 18 years, to offer a three-day industry primer called the ``Era of Plastics,'' for nontechnical people such as lawyers, accountants and secretaries.
Meanwhile, the debut issue of IMPI's monthly, Spanish-language publication Ambiente Plastico, meaning world of plastics, is due in November, according to Conde. The magazine will offer broad industry coverage for product manufacturers, managers, and materials and machinery suppliers. She said initial, Mexico-only circulation is set for 5,000, with plans to expand readership quickly to other parts of Latin America.
IMPI intends to publish 11 monthly issues a year, plus an annual yearbook in December containing industry statistics. The group is working now to update the detailed statistics book that it last issued in 1997.
The firm has two full-time editors with newspaper and business writing experience - Enrique Chao and María Luisa AlÃ³s - and plans to employ freelance contributors throughout Mexico, according to Conde.