Custom injection molder Thermotech Co. will close its El Paso, Texas, plant and move the operation to Mexico.
Thermotech plans to lease about 30,000 square feet in nearby Ciudad Juarez and phase in maquiladora operations beginning in late March or early April, initially with 15 presses of 60-500 tons.
Thermotech intends to retain 12 of about 87 El Paso employees and close the 50,000-square-foot leased facility in Texas by mid-year.
``Cost competitiveness is much greater if we have a plant a few miles south,'' John Bonham, Thermotech president and chief executive officer, said by telephone. ``The business has become more labor intensive,'' reflecting additional assembly requirements ``and the nature of the products we are doing.''
Using engineering thermoplastics, the El Paso plant molds precision bobbins, connectors and under-the-hood parts primarily for Tier 1 automotive suppliers, and it also makes small engine and aircraft components. Thermotech opened the El Paso operation in 1995.
Hopkins-based Thermotech launched a plant in Queretaro in central Mexico in early 2001 and closed an underutilized site in St. Petersburg, Fla., in late 2001.
On Dec. 31, private equity firm Audax Management Co. LLC of Boston purchased Thermotech from Menasha Corp. of Neenah, Wis., the owner since 1988.