Monaco-based auto supplier Mecaplast Group is marking its 60th anniversary this year, and is doing it by revving up for more growth to ensure its future.
CEO Pierre Boulet, in a Q&A feature with Plastics News Europe, a sister publication of Plastics News, said the company wants to boost its sales by more than 50 percent by 2016, and to do so is looking at growth both in Europe and the United States — potentially by acquiring one or two plants.
Q: It is Mecaplast's 60th anniversary in 2015. What are the things that have made the company successful?
Boulet: Mecaplast is successful because we meet our clients' expectations by having an international footprint, providing strong expertise and industry know-how, developing innovative products and by having a good team of workers.
The family-owned company developed its global presence first in 1955 in Monaco, then in France and Europe between 1985 and 1996, while more recently in 1997 our first Chinese plant was built. Mecaplast is now present in 16 countries and delivers parts to more than 34 countries.
Mecaplast designs, develops and manufactures technical parts and complete systems for three product lines: interior, exterior and engine. The company has built its reputation on being an innovative firm that concentrates on the replacement of metal by plastic — in 1987 we built the world's first ever cam cover made out of plastic instead of metal.
Since 1987 our motivated teams have looked at ways to cut weight, costs, C02 [carbon dioxide] and noise, worked at using green materials, developing electric and hybrid powertrains and worked on design and comfort. In 2014, 12 patents and 50 Soleau Envelopes were filed by Mecaplast and we are now a stakeholder in 12 collaborative projects.
Q: What are the most difficult challenges that your automotive customers give you?
Boulet: As an automotive supplier we are bound to the highest quality at the most competitive price. On top of that, high volumes, timely deliveries and global capabilities are essential to our customers. Some of our plants deliver parts to our customers every four hours!
Q: Is Mecaplast's product mix the way you want it or will you make changes?
Boulet: In 2012, Mecaplast defined a strategic products portfolio on which the group focuses its R&D and business development resources (engine parts and car body trims). In 2013, roof bars and truck parts have been added to our strategic products portfolio. We now consider that our strategic products portfolio is tailored to our customers' needs and corresponds to our long-term strategy.
The group is also willing to trim down its non-core businesses, hence the divestment of the fabric/textile activity sold to Faurecia in 2012.
Q: Why has Mecaplast set such a high growth target of 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) in sales in 2018, which is almost 50 percent higher than in 2014?
Boulet: Ineed Mecaplast has the ambitious target to reach 1 billion euros in 2018. Our customers need us to reach this critical size so that we can accompany them all around the world as a strategic supplier. Mecaplast has to continue its organic growth, by getting new businesses, developing and delivering them (three new plants are poised to open in the next three years). The group must also promote external growth.
Q: What is the group's strategy in its international expansion? What type and size of company are you targeting for acquisition?
Boulet: The group is targeting three priority regions for expansion. The first one is Germany where we need to acquire manufacturing and R&D so that we can better supply German OEMs and hope to see a turnover of between 50 million euros ($55.9 million) to 100 million euros ($111 million).
The second region is the U.S., where we are looking to take over one or more plants located in the Midwest, such as Detroit, and/or in the Southeast so as to be closer to German OEMs. We hope to gain 30 million euros ($33.5 million) to 80 million euros ($89.4 million) in sales from here.
Lastly Mecaplast is seeking a partner in Japan so as to acquire local development capabilities.