When Badger Meter Inc. finished building a 140,000-square-foot factory two years ago in Nogales, Mexico, on the border with Arizona, it was another feather in María Elena Rigoli's cap.
The president of Collectron International Management Inc. of Nogales, Ariz., has managed the startup and administration of 125 manufacturing facilities, mainly maquiladoras, in the Mexican border state of Sonora during the past 28 years.
At least 50 have been plastics processing companies, including Badger, which manufactures devices used to control the flow of liquids, Rigoli said in a recent telephone interview.
Other plastics-sector clients have included American Safety Razor Co. of Verona, Va.; kitchen and bathroom accessories manufacturer Moen Inc. of North Olmsted, Ohio; and Anchor Tool & Plastic Inc. of Minneapolis.
Rigoli, 50, was named Sonora's businessperson of the year in 2007, the first woman to win the award, and last year Mexico City business magazine CNN Expansón included her on its list of the country's 50 most powerful women.
Asked what the future holds for her, Rigoli replied: I want to see the industrialization of Mexico.
Commenting on President Felipe CalderÃ³n's prediction that Mexico will be among the largest half-dozen economies by 2050, Rigoli noted that Mexico is currently No. 14.
If we continue this trend, I would say we'll be very close, she said. In Mexico we have something unique, which is that we are next door to one of the world's most powerful countries.
Founded in 1969, Collectron has helped 200 maquiladoras get established in six Sonoran cities: Nogales, Santa Ana, Hermosillo, Ciudad ObregÃ³n, Agua Prieta and Cananea.
Badger, based in Milwaukee, has had operations in Mexico for 37 years and employs about 1,000, according to Rigoli, who has dual Mexican and U.S. citizenship.