MEXICO CITY — Grupo Industrial Ortiz, one of Mexico's biggest plastics processors, claims new equipment purchased from the Starlinger Group in Austria makes it the largest producer of polypropylene raffia woven sacks in the Americas and the second largest in the world.
Emanuel Ortiz, managing director of the Mexican group, headquartered in Morelia, Michoacan, told Plastics News in an email in late March that the equipment has been installed in a new plant in León, in the state of Guanajuato, but he did not specify what the equipment consists of or how much the company spent.
“We're growing a lot in the company and installing more and more plants right now,” Ortiz said in response to an email sent to him by Plastics News.
“Actually, with this plant we are today the largest [maker of PP raffia woven sacks] on the continent and the second largest in the world.”
According to a spokeswoman for Ortiz, the group has 15-20 manufacturing facilities, all of them in Mexico, and employs 800-1,000, a majority of them women.
The company is a success in a region that has seen much recent conflict.
Ortiz's late father, Nicandro Ortiz Calderón, who founded the company in the early 1950s, was once kidnapped.
Michoacan, in the west of Mexico, is considered one of Mexico's most dangerous states and is at the heart of Mexico's drug war. Mexican soldiers who were dispatched to the mountainous region several weeks ago, are not only trying to capture drug gang members but also to disarm a number of so-called self-defense groups, formed to protect themselves, they say, from the drug traffickers.
The Ortiz industrial group claims on its web site that it produces annually 80,000 tons of plastics products, ranging from agricultural sowing pots and stretch film to rope, cables and under-carpeting foam.
Behind the company's success is a rags-to-riches tale which has its beginning in the Michoacan town of Tacámbaro, where Nicandro Ortiz Calderón was born into poverty, the eldest of eight children.
The Ortiz spokeswoman explained that his fascination with plastics began with an interest in the plastic cups containing jello which were sold in Tacámbaro.
As a young man, he bought a machine used for producing the cups and his business went from strength to strength. He died three years ago.
The Starlinger Group is another family-owned enterprise. Based in Vienna, it comprises four companies, including Starlinger & Co. GmbH, which manufactures equipment for the production of woven plastic sacks.