Mexico at the Center of the Aerospace IndustryBy Sofía Hanna | Tue, 06/15/2021 - 10:03
Q: What is the advantage that Chihuahua brings to Kaman as a strategic location? How did the company’s facilities in Chihuahua deal with the pandemic?
A: At Chihuahua, we have been supporting measures taken at Kaman’s US headquarters regarding cost reduction and the release of floor space so they can work on the next assembly levels. We struggled significantly during the pandemic because, at first, the aerospace industry in Mexico was not considered essential so we had to close our plants temporarily. US companies did not understand why we were not considered essential and continued producing. We shut down for a couple of months, which created a big constraint on deliveries and disrupted operations in the US. When we restarted operations, we had to work many hours of overtime to produce what still needed to be delivered. It took us six months to recover the production we lost in those two months.
Q: What advances have been made through the collaboration been between Kaman, the Mexican government and the Chihuahua cluster?
A: The federal government has not shown interest in this sector, unlike previous administrations that invested significant effort, money and time to develop the clusters and give companies the opportunity to grow. We lost some of the gains made during the last three years. The cluster’s consolidation, carried out during the past five to seven years, has been crucial because now companies can identify each other and find synergies to obtain new contracts. We are now becoming a one-stop city through the diversification of processes and the inclusion of companies that provide services to others in different tiers.
Q: How has Chihuahua’s relationship with external investors changed in recent years?
A: We do feel that it is a sensitive issue for foreign companies to invest in Mexico. Although there are some signs that companies are willing to open contracts with local companies, we could be in more demand under different circumstances. Mexico could be more desirable if the government provided other benefits and investments certainty to foreign investors.
Q: How have Kaman’s investment plans been impacted by security concerns and other state issues?
A: We did see a significant reduction in investment because of security. There was a period when visitors were afraid, so companies tried to ensure that they had the security necessary, but the circumstances have improved. We have done a good job demonstrating the significant progress made in the state and city. People who now come to Chihuahua never experience any act of violence or any incident that would affect their trust in the city.
Q: What role does Kaman want to play in the local industry’s development?
A: We want to be a part of the game, a fair player among the competition. We do believe in teamwork and we trust that if we work together, we will have a better future. Today companies share equipment with one another when they have a problem, allowing us to maintain production. We use our competitors’ tools and that allows everyone to survive. There is a market for everyone.
Q: What role do you think Mexico can play in the advancement of the aerospace industry?
A: Mexico remains an important destination for the sector. Being at the center of commerce in the world is important because it helps us be a hub for the exchange of services and products. Thanks to our location, we could be a connecting point between North and South America, and the European countries with Asia region, which was why we needed the New Mexico International Airport (NAIM). Mexico could be in a better position, but the country needs to redefine some of its strategies and invest in the future rather than in old and obsolete technologies.
Kaman Corporation is a leading aerospace innovator headquartered in the US. It serves commercial and military customers from around the world. In Mexico, Kaman has a manufacturing plant in Chihuahua.