GUADALAJARA, MEXICO — International mold makers are stepping up their interest and activities in Mexico, largely encouraged by the rapid growth of the country's automotive industry.
Integrity Tool & Mold Inc, of Oldcastle, Ontario, was among half a dozen or so major players exhibiting at the four-day Expo Plásticos trade show in Guadalajara in late March.
Others included EPPT Exportools Portuguese Tools ACE, of Samil, São Roque, Portugal; Helm Tool Company Inc, of Elk Grove Village, Illinois; I Thibault Inc, of Saint-Damien de Buckland, Quebec; and E&T Lda and AFR Moldes Lda, two Portuguese companies that merged in 2013.
Movement on the Mexican mold making front has been frenetic in the past two years. In 2012 Integrity, which also has a facility in Pulaski, Tenn., expanded into Mexico, opening a 19,520-square-foot facility, equipped with a 50-ton crane, on the outskirts of the city of Querétaro in central Mexico.
In March 2013, Concours Mold Inc, of Lakeshore, Ontario, said it was investing $5.5 million to almost double the size of its manufacturing facility in southeastern Mexico.
The following October, Frimo Inc. of Wixom, Mich., announced it would build a manufacturing plant in central Mexico, while in November 2013, Ikegami Mold de México, a subsidiary of Japan's Ikegami Mold Engineering Co. Ltd., said it would invest $1 million in its third tool shop in Mexico.
Portugal's Exportools has been present in the Mexican market for a year, according to António Almeida, a member of its business development staff.
“We have three clients in Mexico, two of them Tier 2 automotive industry suppliers and one of them a Tier 1 supplier,” Almeida told Plastics News at Expo Plásticos.
Exportools manufactures 300 molds of up to 60 tons in weight per year, 90 percent of which are for the automotive industry, Almeida said. For now, it is focused on consolidating its operations in Mexico, but it may consider building a manufacturing facility there as well.
“We've been here for a year. Maybe in three or four years…”
The company, which has three manufacturing plants in Portugal and one in Brazil, has annual sales of 23 million euros ($31.6 million).
Helmut Mueller founded the Helm Tool Company in September, 1977, and is the company's president. He studied machine building and engineering in Germany before emigrating to the United States.
Founded by President and CEO Marc Thibault's father, Irenée, in 1963, I. Thibault counts companies such as IPL Packaging Inc, recreational vehicle builder BRP Inc, Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co., Toyota Motor Corp. and Reebok International Ltd. among its “strategic partners,” according to its website. Outside Canada, it has sales offices in Puebla, Mexico, and in Dongguan, China.
Mexico's automotive industry is growing fast. The national automotive industry association AMIA (Asociación Mexicana de la Industria Automotriz AC) expects light vehicle assembly in the country to top 3 million in 2014, exceed 3.5 million in 2015 and 4 million in 2019.
The country's supplier subsector, which has leapfrogged South Korea and become the world's fifth producer of auto parts, will manufacture $79 billion worth of parts in 2014 and $91.9 billion by 2019, according to national supplier association Industria Nacional de Autopartes AC.