Growing demand from operations in Mexico necessitated the expansions, much of that fueled by the automotive industry. Mexico is the fifth largest economy in the Americas, with consistent GDP growth over the last decade, said Saul Reyes, managing director of the Aguascalientes operation.
Labor costs still are affordable in the nation, he said, and it is the No. 8 car producer in the world, with 2013 production forecast to hit 3 million vehicles.
Eighteen light and heavy duty vehicle manufacturers have facilities in Mexico, and new investment projects totaling more than $9.3 billion are scheduled over the next few years.
Both Hexpol facilities in Mexico are located in what is known as the country's "Automotive Triangle." Hexpol currently employs about 200 between the new plants and is looking to invest in its organization as well as building infrastructure, Reyes said. Because Mexico is far from a mature market, as Hexpol adds more mixing capacity, the company knows it will need to bring in more technical, sales and logistics support, along with other staff to handle all aspects of doing business in the nation.
Hexpol is the leading compounder selling to makers of engineered rubber products in Mexico, said Donald Picard, the firm's vice president of sales and marketing for North America. There are larger rubber suppliers in Mexico, he said, but those are for sales specifically to tire makers.
Viliesid said the Mexican operations never have had a problem sourcing raw materials. Some ingredients can be supplied locally, but most come from the U.S., with others brought in from Europe and Asia.
The executives also said the quality from the plants in Mexico will match that of any other Hexpol facilities around the globe. "We work very hard to make sure the raw materials are to the quality standard that we need to get in order to be able to meet our customer needs," Reyes said.
Viliesid added that the operations there also have developed the technical capability needed to be able to design formulations. "Some local customers will ask us for a very specific kind of material, and we can design it locally," he said. "We have a pilot mixer so we can do development locally, and that's very useful in providing an expeditious response to our customers."