Engel North America's technical center in central Mexico will be operational in the first half of 2010, officials said as the first stone was laid.
We plan to have the ribbon cutting next spring, said Stephan Braig, president and CEO, at the Aug. 19 foundation-laying ceremony at the 1.5-acre site in Querétaro, 125 miles northwest of Mexico City.
The investment, which Braig said is worth several million dollars, is Engel's most significant in Mexico since the Schwertberg, Austria-based injection molding machine manufacturer opened a sales and spare parts office in 1996 in Mexico City.
Engel's main North American office, Engel Machinery Inc., is in York, Pa. The company's Canadian head office is in Guelph, Ontario.
While he wouldn't reveal Engel's share of the Mexican market, Braig made no secret of the company's desire to boost its business. Why [build] now, when everybody else is cutting [back]? Not many suppliers are making investments, he said.
First of all, the Mexican market is extremely important to us. We see it as a growing market. It is also a market that has grown in sophistication, he said. Ultimately, we believe in the Mexican market, in our Mexican workforce, our Mexican customers and their drive to get through this [global economic] crisis.
Alberto Meade, general manager of Mexican subsidiary Engel de México SA de CV, said Engel has close to 1,400 presses installed in the country, with clamping forces of 30-2,500 tons.
Meade said the Querétaro center will cover 21,500 square feet and include a parts warehouse, a laboratory, two classrooms for training and a processing optimization area.
We'll have three machines permanently running, he said.
Engel identified Querétaro as the ideal location for the facility because it's located in the middle of the country and 60-65 percent of all Engel machines in Mexico are in the region, Meade said.
A half-dozen Engel customers have manufacturing plants in the industrial park where Engel's complex is located, including GW Plastics Mexicana RL de CV, a unit of precision molder GW Plastics of Bethel, Vt.
Of the 13 machines we have, 10 are Engels, GW plant manger Mark Wilson said. The machines range in clamping force from 50-500 tons, he said.
Wilson said his company is expanding and will buy more Engel machines. GW's Querétaro workforce could grow from about 50 to 120 within a year, he said.
Braig said Engel has increased its U.S. market share in the past 18 months, but would not give specifics.
He said the situation remains difficult on the large-tonnage side which includes automotive, housing and appliances where there are large numbers of used machines on the market.
Asked about Engel's U.S. scrap bonus scheme which is due to end Sept. 30 Braig replied that it has created interest.
It's something that people are looking at, particularly if it's combined with some utility company rebates, he said.
Copyright 2009 Crain Communications Inc. All Rights Reserved.