Ikegami Mold de México is eager to increase its business south of the U.S.-Mexico border.
The company has invested $650,000 in its Tijuana, Mexico, operation in the past 12 months. The operation was established in 1998 to serve both sides of the border.
The tool maintenance, modification and repair shop can handle injection molds as large as 30 tons and has about five regular customers and 20-odd not-so-active ones, according to Yoshiyuki Koga, managing director in Mexico. The Tijuana company is a subsidiary of 64-year-old Ikegami Mold Engineering Co. Ltd. of Japan.
Customers are primarily in the electronics industry, particularly makers of television cabinets; others are in the automotive sector.
A few are in Monterrey and LeÃ³n, 1,483 and 1,578 miles, respectively, to the southeast of Tijuana, Koga added.
Ikegami employs 16 in Tijuana 12 in the production area and four in administration and sales.
In addition to its tool repair and modification business, it sources new tools from Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and China, among others, Koga said.
For this activity we have two sales engineers from overseas tool shops stationed here. One is from Japan and the other from Taiwan.
Asked why Ikegami moved its retooling activities to Tijuana from its original location across the border in San Diego, Koga said: Our parent company provides a lot of tools for Sony TV, and the tool maintenance shop followed [Sony's] path. First it was in California and then [Sony] moved down to Tijuana about 10 years ago.
Asked about the difficulty of doing business in Mexico, Koga said the company continues to have paperwork problems with the Mexican customs service.
In a couple of cases we ended up hiring a lawyer to resolve [problems], but not in the last two years.
The firm, he said, takes pride in having a low staff turnover. Two [employees] have been with us for 10 years, which means since we started our operation in Tijuana, and some have been with us for seven to nine years.
He added that, because Ikegami Mold de México is not involved in mass production and because tooling is skill-intensive, we do not have any minimum wage-type of workers.
If orders increase, the company would like to set up a workshop with simple equipment far from Tijuana to provide service to customers in other regions.
Koga described the recent installation of new mold-texturing equipment and a laser welder in Tijuana as a rare occurrence in Mexico.
Even Alfredo LÃ³pez Machorro, managing director of Mexico's plastics industry association Anipac (Asociacón Nacional de Industrias del Plastico AC), was hard-pressed to name other companies that offer the same services as the Japanese outfit.
There's no industry as such in Mexico, LÃ³pez said.
Surface Finish Technology Inc., an Ikegami affiliate in Corona, Calif., designed and built the texturing equipment. Alpha Laser GmbH of Puchheim, Germany, manufactured the laser welder.
According to Koga, the company might install heat-treatment equipment and a gun drill to increase its in-house tooling capability.
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