RAMOS ARIZPE, MEXICO (Jan. 9, 1:30 p.m. ET) — The owner of a Mexican packaging company says Fortis Plastics LLC closed its factory in this northern industrial city several days before Christmas and stripped the facility of all capital equipment.
Sergio Mellado, who founded Multiempaques de Saltillo 11 years ago, said Fortis, which represented 20 percent of his company's business, owes his firm $14,500.
Local newspapers have published photographs of the Fortis facility taken through a wire fence. They show cardboard boxes strewn across the ground in front of a building and a chained and padlocked gate at an entrance to the complex.
Ramos Arizpe is the 10th or 11th Fortis plant to be closed in the past three years. On Jan. 5, Plastics News reported that a Fortis thermoset molding plant in Wilmington, Ohio, will close.
“Legally, there's little we can do” about collecting the alleged debt, Mellado said, pointing out that the site's machinery and equipment has been removed. “There's nothing to embargo.”
He had spoken, he said, by telephone to the controller of Fortis Plastics in the United States. “They told me it's a local problem and there's nothing they can do to help.”
Mellado, who employs 11, also told Plastics News another two dozen suppliers in the Ramos Arizpe area are owed the equivalent of $728,000 by Fortis.
He said one of the companies, which he declined to name, has sued Fortis's legal representative in Mexico. “I'm waiting to see how that goes before deciding whether or not to take similar action. Everything costs money.”
According to Mellado, Multiempaques, whose products include stretch film and polyfoam, supplied Fortis in Mexico for three years and the company which Fortis took over, Moll Industries, for seven years before that.
“I'm surprised that they closed the plant. We had just negotiated a new contract to supply packaging material.”
Officials in the Ramos Arizpe municipal government's economics department acknowledged the closure of the local Fortis plant, which reportedly employed 200, but made no immediate comment.
They had not responded to a Plastics News questionnaire emailed to them January 6 by the beginning of the week.
A local newspaper reported that Fortis emptied the Ramos Arizpe factory of equipment and machinery during the holiday season to take advantage of the fact that local courts were not sitting and security at the town's Santa María Industrial Park was lax.