A small family-owned Mexican injection molding company, which has spent 20 years doing jobs under contract for large and small clients alike, has launched its own line of hand-finished, decorative flowerpots, which it plans to start exporting soon.
``Taking into account past experiences when we relied on third parties for our survival and were subject to fluctuations in the [maquiladora] market, we decided to look for a product that would keep our machines running the whole time,'' said Roberto Amezcua, administrative director of Procesos Plasticos Inyectados SA de CV of Guadalajara, in western Mexico.
Founded in 1987 as a maquiladora manufacturer of water pumps exclusively for a company called Dishmatic, which made automatic dishwashers, PPI was purchased by Amezcua after the Mexican market was opened to foreign competition in the mid-1990s and Dishmatic, unable to cope with the flood of rival products, closed its operations.
``I was the sole owner until one of my sisters and her husband joined me with the intention of improving the company's finances before selling it,'' said Amezcua, a graduate in electrical mechanical engineering from the Autonomous University of Guadalajara.
``After a great deal of effort, we managed to save the company and it became unnecessary to get rid of it,'' he said.
At the time, PPI had only one injection machine, a 150-ton Fama Nissei. In 1995, Amezcua installed a second, a Fama Nissei with 250 tons of clamping force.
In late 1999, by which time the company was on sounder financial footing and operating in a stable market, PPI acquired a 7,000-square-foot factory and two 150-ton Engel presses. PPI's most recent purchase, in 2006, was a new 305-ton Lien Yu press.
``We opted for the production of nursery flower pots because we're in a region where, for years, the business of gardening has been booming,'' Amezcua said. The firm's first flowerpots, made of polypropylene, were made in 2000 in the four most popular sizes. Today, 70 percent of PPI's production is for the maquiladora industry and 30 percent for its own line of products, both commercial and decorative.
``The gardening market is very competitive and there's a great variety of designs, materials and quality,'' he said. ``When we tried to position ourselves, we realized that, to be able to achieve an acceptable profit margin and compete with other national and foreign producers, we would have to offer quality, presentation and [competitive] prices.''
The current line comprises pots for young nursery flowers and crops, and decorative and hand-finished flowerpots.
At the top of the line is a range of flowerpots sold under the trademark Deco Art. The flowerpots, which are classified as handicrafts, are targeted at gift stores and the export market.
``They were designed with the intention of offering an added-value product, different from conventional flowerpots,'' Amezcua said.
PPI employs Amezcua's family in a variety of positions. There are also eight full-time, hourly workers and several temporary workers.