Mexico City — Asahi Kasei Corp. plans to open its first Mexican compounding plant in 2020.
"Mexico is growing nicely for us," sales director Scott Kushion said at Plastimagen. "We already have enough sales in Mexico to justify having a plant here."
The plant most likely will be in the Querétaro area, where Asahi Kasei has its search narrowed down to three sites. Kushion said the firm likely will build a new plant rather than try to find an existing building. Construction is expected to begin in 2019, with production starting in 2020, he added.
In scale, the plant will be similar to the plant Asahi Kasei opened in Alabama last year, according to Kushion. That plant employs about 50 and covers 100,000 square feet.
Kushion said the Mexican plant is needed to handle business from automakers located in the area. Asahi Kasei generates about 90 percent of its total sales from the auto sector.
Asahi Kasei has five sales reps in Mexico and employs a staff of 15 at an office in Querétaro. The firm is looking to add two more Mexican sales reps by 2018, Kushion said. Asahi Kasei currently uses five warehouses in Mexico to source its material.
Similar to the United States, Asahi Kasei's sales mix in Mexico is roughly 80 percent polypropylene-based compounds, with the remainder coming from compounds based on nylon and other engineering resins.
The firm recently commercialized a PP compound in an auto shifter base, Kushion said, and has done an increasing amount of business in heavy trucks.
Asahi Kasei in October set a sales record for Mexico. The firm is on track to post a double-digit sales gain in Mexico this year and should be able to repeat that in 2018, Kushion said.
"We have a really good team here," he added. "I'm very optimistic."
Tokyo-based Asahi Kasei also operates a compounding plant in Fowlerville, Mich. Its compounding business ranks among North America's 30 largest compounders and concentrate makers.