Mexico City — M. Holland Co. has had some bumps in the road, but remains committed to plastics materials markets in Mexico and Latin America.
The Northbrook, Ill.-based resin distributor opened a break-bulk terminal and warehouse in May in Tultitlan, Mexico — only four months before the region was struck by an earthquake on Sept. 19. All of M. Holland's employees were safe after the quake, and the facility was unaffected, M. Holland Latinoamerica Director General Francisco Xavier Lebrija said in an interview at Plastimagen.
The situation for M. Holland in Puerto Rico was more extreme after Hurricane Maria hit the island in mid-September. Many of the firm's nine full-time employees and their families accepted the company's offer of coming to the U.S. after the storm. Although most of the island lost electricity, M. Holland's office there managed to operate by using generators.
M. Holland officials credited commercial manager Tracy Coifman with helping employees and their families during the crisis.
"Tracy handled everything very professionally and did a phenomenal job," Dwight Morgan, corporate development vice president, said at Plastimagen.
In spite of these challenges, M. Holland still sees growth opportunities in Mexico and Latin America, where its sales are growing at a double-digit rate annually.
"There have been some challenges, but there also have been some opportunities," President and CEO Ed Holland said. "We're excited about the direction we're heading in."
"We're grown our volume enormously in Latin America in the last year, even with some supply constraints," Morgan added.
Flexible packaging is a big market opportunity in Mexico in the form of pouches, which now are using advanced technology, Xavier said. The automotive market "is driving demand for engineering resins," he added.
Like markets in the U.S., Mexico and Latin America are recovering from resin shortages caused by Hurricane Harvey, which hit the Gulf Coast in late August. "Things are recovering and functioning," Ed Holland said. "We're not scrambling anymore."
Potential changes to NAFTA are on the minds of M. Holland officials, as they are with other firms that do business in Mexico. "Our biggest concern is Mexico, especially if [changes to NAFTA] make investments slow down," Morgan said. "We're assessing a lot of different contingencies."
As for future growth in the region, Ed Holland said that another Mexican warehouse site is "not likely," but he added that Mexico "is the cornerstone of our growth in the region."
M. Holland entered the Mexican market in 2015 when it acquired resin supplier Grupo Solquim of Mexico City. In 2016, the firm ventured deeper into the Caribbean and Central and South America when it bought Puerto Rican resin distributors Able International Corp. and Tril Export Corp., both of which were owned by the Coifman family.
M. Holland is one of North America's largest resin distributors, selling more than 1.4 billion pounds of resin per year from more than 20 material suppliers.