Mexico City — Realizing competition from big supermarket chains would eventually put their small grocery store, which had been in the family for three generations, out of business, Omar Sotelo Ceja and his father, Antonio, decided to launch their own injection blow molding company.
Twelve years later, Fábrica de Envases Socesa SA de CV produces 4 million to 5 million PET preforms a month in the picturesque colonial city of Morelia, capital of the Mexican state of Michoacan, and employs a full-time team of 60.
FES supplies the food and pharmaceutical industries with containers ranging in size from 200 milliliters (6.7 fluid ounces) to 10 liters (338 fluid ounces), produced on eight machines supplied by Japanese and Canadian companies. It imports the bottles' polypropylene caps from a supplier in Peru. It also supplies some thermoformed packaging.
For security reasons, Omar Sotelo did not wish to be photographed when Plastics News met him at Expo Pack México, held at the Santa Fe Expo in Mexico City in early June.
Michoacan is among Mexico's five most violent states, with the U.S. State Department warning its citizens in January not to travel there. Sotelo was just as reluctant to divulge the names of FES's equipment suppliers.
But he did reveal that "our plans are to get into [polyethylene] extrusion. Michoacan has a lot of agriculture and it's a big market."
The state is one of the world's largest producers of avocados, which it exports primarily to the United States. Other major crops include guavas, blackberries, chickpeas, lemons, sesame and sorghum.
The FES factory complex covers 64,500 square feet and Sotelo and his closest collaborators, including Sales Manager Germán Gómez and chemical pharmacologists Leidy Maximiliano, Liz Aide Villa Morales and Claudia Erandi, are looking forward to the future.
"Supermarket competition almost made our grocery business, which my grandfather started, disappear," said Sotelo. "We're going down a different path and we're optimistic."