Mexico City — Mold makers from north of the border keep building plants in Mexico, and Milacron Holdings Corp. is keeping pace by expanding its operations in Querétaro.
Milacron makes DME mold bases and components, Mold-Masters hot runners and hot runner temperature controllers. At the beginning of 2017, Mold-Masters' Latin American hot runner and control systems business became fully integrated into the Mexican operation and now does direct sales to customers.
Juan Carlos Gonzalez, Milacron's Latin America director, said mold makers in Mexico, lured by Mexico's booming automotive sector, need local suppliers.
"We have inventory. We have technicians for service. We have a very well-trained sales force. All in order to support their aggressive ramp up," Gonzalez said.
Milacron opened its Latin American headquarters in Querétaro in 2014. That investment is important, Gonzalez said. The operation has had double-digit gains in the last three years, he said.
"It's happening at a very fast pace," he said. "We have people from Canada, like Integrity and Omega that have set up operations in the Querétaro area. And expanding significantly in the last 18 months. That's why we're going direct with our Mold-Masters and DME business in order to serve these new demands, locally. We have a very good relationship with them."
Integrity Tool & Mold Inc. has built its second plant in Mexico. Omega Tool Corp. opened a plant there three years ago. Both Canadian toolmakers are based in Oldcastle, near Windsor.
Mold makers are flocking to Mexico because they need to be close to injection molders. But they also need their own suppliers nearby. That's where Milacron comes in.
"We have a very state-of-the-art operation in regard to maintenance for molds, hot runners and systems, not only from our brand, but for any brand," Gonzalez said.
The renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, and U.S. President Donald Trump's call to build a wall between the United States and Canada — and raise tariffs against Mexican-built cars shipped to the United States — have had some impact on Mexico's automotive sector.
Earlier this year, Ford Motor Co. canceled plans to build a new small-car plant in Mexico, a move that industry observers said was because of political pressure from the American-first stance of Trump.
Last month, Toyota Motor Corp. scaled down investment and production plans for a Mexico auto plant and changed it from making Corolla subcompacts to building midsized pickup trucks. The small-car production will go to a new U.S. plant Toyota is planning with Mazda Motor Corp. The investment in Mexico has been delayed.
Officials of both automakers said market demand, not politics, was the reason for their decisions.
Gonzalez said new molding work coming to Mexico ran at more than 20 percent in the last three years. After Trump's NAFTA declarations, some projects were put on hold, but more new molders continue to come, still at a double-digit growth rate — probably in the lower teens, he said.