Víctor Hidalgo
President
Aerospace Alliance Of Baja California
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View from the Top

Creating Added Value For Baja California

Fri, 12/01/2017 - 10:40

Q: What is your vision for the industry as the new President of Aerospace Alliance of Baja California?
A: The vision the board and I have is to consolidate the aerospace cluster in Baja California and to clearly define the added value we can offer to the sector. We have three main goals on which we want to focus: human capital, the supplier network and to leverage government support for the industry. Regarding human capital, we want to ensure that companies can secure the right talent from local schools and universities. Previously, we had to source talent from outside the state, particularly for design operations. Now, we are working with academic institutions in the region to make sure they align with the industry’s real demands. We are also helping companies establish strong talent-development programs and supporting them with training courses.
Development of the supplier network is a more complicated issue because of the certifications and expertise companies need to participate in the sector. Certifications take time and it is complicated to take each supplier through the entire process. We are trying to define the best way we can help the supplier base. At the same time, we are working with the state and federal governments to determine how we can help companies grow their business.
Q: In your opinion, which capabilities are missing from the state’s supply chain?
A: A big obstacle is financial access to new technology. Many SMEs do not have the resources to invest in the machining equipment necessary to participate in the production chain. Most processes do not need just one piece of equipment but an integrated manufacturing line. Modernization strategies require cash flow but without contracts, money will not come. Unfortunately, without the right equipment companies cannot secure contracts. This is a vicious cycle because companies are not that willing to put themselves at risk without any business secured.
Once a company manages to build its installed capacity to the right level, our goal as a cluster is to identify a larger supplier willing to give this SME a chance to prove itself. The problem is that most purchasing decisions for manufacturing activities are taken at the company’s headquarters, which limits the options for local suppliers. More companies are now willing to participate in the sector but especially in raw materials and advanced components there is still a gap to be filled.
Q: How can companies break free from this vicious cycle of lack of capital versus lack of contracts?
A: This is definitely a challenge for the entire industry, not just Baja California. Other associations like FEMIA want to promote the local supply chain with big companies established in this region, but even for these companies it is not a simple decision either. These players need to be sure they can rely on any new supplier in terms of quality and timely deliveries. Without proper capital to invest, few small companies can offer this commitment. There is no easy answer to this question and it is an issue for both governments and private players.
Q: What is the cluster’s strategy to bring companies from Baja California's cities under the same development roof?
A: Before inviting more companies into the cluster, we want to define what is the added value that we can offer to the region. Companies have different strategies and priorities but as a cluster we must present a unified front. We know what our priorities are as a cluster and now we want to specify how we are going to achieve our goals. Companies wanting to join the cluster expect something from us and as a group we want to be able to meet their expectations. Our hope is that once we have our vision clearly defined, we will not have to look for companies to join us, because these companies will come to us on their own.