Develop Local Talent for Added ValueThu, 12/01/2016 - 10:58
Q: How has Omni-X's experience in Mexico influenced its growth plans?
NG: We are worldwide leaders in bending tools due to our quality products, which are designed to provide the tight tolerance that the aerospace industry needs. We also have an engineering division, which has designed bending tools specifically for this industry.
In 2012, we opened our facility in Queretaro because we were supplying this important market through the US and realized that we could not provide the same quality customer service from afar. Having analyzed the Mexican market we concluded that it was large enough to justify opening an office here, from which we are overseeing our market in all Latin America. Omni-X’s offices in Queretaro are small but growing, and as we continue to do so it will become necessary to open new facilities in Brazil and Argentina.
Q: As a young company, how is Omni-X competing with more established companies?
NG: We are the first company of our kind to take the risk and establish operations in Mexico. So far we have perceived a local workshops as competition, which are extremely common in Mexico. These workshops do not generally have the necessary expertise or the qualifications and so customers sometimes return their products for further improvements. Our prices are higher but so are our quality standards, so we save clients potential complications.
AS: It is common for OEMs to bring a small part of their operations into the country but they do not necessarily bring their employees, relying instead on the Mexican workforce. Sadly, local companies do not always know how to operate their machines or to manufacture their products. Omni-X can promise added value tied to a comprehensive knowledge of the machinery, their processes and their requirements, such that we can provide the local workforce with the correct training for our equipment.
Q: What are the greatest challenges of manufacturing you face in Queretaro?
NG: Our main challenge has been the acquisition of qualified and knowledgeable individuals. We have noticed that Mexicans are hardworking and motivated but lacking the necessary skills for this industry. Therefore, we are contacting academic institutions such as the National College of Professional Technical Education (CONALEP) to communicate the specific skills we need from potential employees. In Queretaro, we had to create internal training processes to provide our employees with the necessary skills, which we had not needed at our other two facilities, as entry-level professionals in those countries had been better prepared.
AS: The Czech Republic, for instance, has excellent machining engineering and technical programs. The US’ engineering capabilities are not as strong but Mexico is much farther behind both countries. To improve the quality of professionals here we needed to invest in new machinery for the technical schools we work with. Schools in Mexico still teach machining with manual equipment, which is no longer the industry standard for Omni-X or many other companies. Today we use CNC machines. This downside is offset by Mexican students who are highly motivated to learn. We often send them to the US or Czech Republic for training or we bring technicians here to train our employees in Queretaro.
Q: Which companies are your main clients here and what are your priorities going forward?
AS: Omni-X is managing R&D operations with a few OEMs but our main clients are Tier 1 and 2 suppliers. On occasion, we work directly with Boeing, Bombardier or Embraer. While Embraer performs most of its production by itself, Airbus and Boeing do rely on other companies for much of their manufacturing. From Mexico, we export mostly to Brazil and Argentina, although we do receive sporadic operations requests for Colombia. Nonetheless, at this point we are concentrating on the Mexican market, which is why only 5-10 percent of our products are exports. We still have a lot of room for growth and many areas could be improved in our local operations. However, we are confident because our two local markets, namely automotive and aerospace, are growing rapidly.