Auxiliary equipment and additive distributor and manufacturer Romax Inc. of Louisville, Ky., has opened its first sales office in Mexico, in the northern industrial hub of Monterrey, along with branches in the Gulf city of Matamoros and Guadalajara in the west.
“I see tremendous opportunities in Latin America and especially in Mexico,” company founder Eric Roberts said at the Plastimagen trade show, held in Mexico City in early October.
Romax, which Roberts started two decades ago, offers customized manufacturing solutions to the producers of PET bottles and preforms in particular.
Mexico has been “largely overlooked by many manufacturers,” he said, expressing his admiration for the entrepreneurial spirit of many business people he had met.
“There's a tremendous quest for a better way to do things, better processes and better equipment. It's a place of no fear. Even though the economy worldwide is not doing well, I see my investment in Mexico as having great potential.
“Today,” he said, “a guy came by who is starting a business of injection molded coat hangers. We've just sold a big system to a customer making blown film. Yesterday and today we've had smaller family companies with interesting projects. A few minutes ago some people were interested in recycling.”
He said he sees more emphasis on recycling in Mexico than he does in the United States.
“We're working with a customer in the north of Mexico who is a big recycler of PET and polyethylene. We can help him from every standpoint,” Roberts said. “We do metal detection, metal separation and quality testing. We're also speaking with him about the ‘dosification' of color into masterbatch form.”
Roberts, who plans to move the firm's headquarters to Boston soon, alluded to the U.S. plastics industry's major contraction, particularly in auxiliary equipment, in the past decade or two.
“But I made a decision 10 years ago that I would stick with it and I would prevail. … Since I made the decision I have steadily increased our sales position.”
He declined, however, to be specific about the company's sales numbers.
The Monterrey office, headed by Eduardo de la Garza, is Romax's first base outside the United States. Roberts said it's “certainly possible” that Romax will open more offices elsewhere in Latin America.
“Many of our products are sold in Central and South America,” he said.
Roberts previously worked for beverage company Brown-Forman Corp. of Louisville as the technical director of a division that did injection molding and manufactured PET bottles.
“I had been using this [Netherlands-made] Movacolor equipment,” he said. “I saw the potential and they were looking for distribution in the United States. I met one of the former owners. We shook hands and I went to work.”