QUERÉTARO, MEXICO — Specialty materials developer Celanese Corp. has opened its first technology and business center in Mexico, providing clients in Latin America with training in polymer technology as well as in plastics design, molding and color.
The Mexico facility, which will also offer customers technical and processing support, is modeled on Celanese's technology centers in Seoul and Shanghai, both of which support manufacturers in Asia.
Dallas-based Celanese has similar facilities in Frankfurt, Germany, and Auburn Hills, Mich. The company had global sales of $6.8 billion in 2014.
Todd Elliott, Celanese's vice president and general manager for global sales, declined to say how much Celanese invested in the 4,000-square-foot building. The facility will have 10 people, including R&D technologists, on site initially, Elliott said.
While the company's other technology centers are equipped with processing machinery, for the time being Querétaro will not have any, Elliott said.
“We chose to put the center here because you are getting more and more local decision-making from within Mexico,” he said. Mexico will be the world's fifth largest car maker by 2020, he said.
Amit Gupta, Celanese's commercial director of engineered materials for the automotive industry, described the facility as a “customer experience center.” He added that sectors such as aerospace, medical devices, electronics and appliances also will benefit.
“This is another step towards getting closer to the customers,” he said.
Querétaro, 135 miles northwest of Mexico City, is one of a half-dozen rapidly developing industrial centers in Mexico. Aerospace and auto industry suppliers abound in the city.
Makoto Morimoto, sales manager for Inabata México SA de CV, a plastics resins distributing subsidiary of Tokyo-based Inabata & Co Ltd, welcomed Celanese's move but cautioned that “right now I don't think Mexican companies have the ability to design materials. Maybe in five or 10 years' time Mexico will be a country with [material] design capabilities.”
Inabata sells about 200 metric tons of materials a month in Mexico, of which 60-70 percent are engineering resins, he said. The company's target is to sell 1,000 metric tons a month within a year, he said.
“This center will help because we can bring our customers here,” Morimoto said.
Celanese, whose relationship with Mexico spans 70 years, has a chemicals production plant in Cangrejera and a logistics facility in Coatzacoalcos. Both are on Mexico's Gulf coast.