Ramón Pages
Director General
Proquipa and Ecoplating
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View from the Top

Expansion Plans for History- Rich Plating and Finishing Companies

Tue, 09/15/2015 - 16:17

Q: What is the history surrounding the formation of Proquipa and Ecoplating, and how does Grupo Pages serve the automotive industry in Mexico?

A: Proquipa and Ecoplating are two electroplating companies established in 1983 and 1996, respectively, in order to offer metal finishing services in the region of Toluca. The two companies belong to Grupo Pages, which was formed more than 70 years ago by my father, Ramon Pages Duhalt, the pioneer of metal finishing in Mexico. Grupo Pages consists of eight companies, with 70% of the service they provide aimed toward the automotive industry. These companies have a combined total of 1,500 employees and are located in various locations around the country, each offering metal finishing and parts manufacturing. Comparatively, Proquipa and Ecoplating provide 60% of their service to the electrical market and 40% to the automotive industry, but are both set to expand due to the high demand in the growing automotive industry. As of today we have a highly diversified client base, but when Proquipa started to develop as a business, our first clients were from the automotive industry. These included Chrysler, Robert Bosch, Aeroquip, Volkswagen, GM, Parker, Valeo, and Hella. Thanks to them, we were able to begin progressing in an automotive-oriented structure.

Q: What changes have you seen in your clients’ demands as aluminum has become more popular?

A: Since aluminum is lightweight and an effective conductor, it is an appropriate material to use in many industries, particularly automotive. Currently, we work with 2,000kg of aluminum per day and offer various treatments for the metal, such as chrome for decorative purposes and protection against oxidation, and anodizing for extending the life of the product. We also offer copper, silver, and tin for enhanced conductivity and protection. Electroplating offers protection to enhance durability and wear-resistance, avoid corrosion, and increase strength, as well as affecting the appearance of the part. In addition to aluminum, the most common processes for automotive metal finishing that we provide are zinc, zinc nickel, zinc iron, decorative chrome, hard chrome, nickel, electroless nickel, copper, tin, and silver, as well as anodizing, plastic plating, and paint.

Q: What coating finishes is Proquipa capable of offering to automotive clients?

A: We have the technical capacity and the infrastructure to develop and install production lines that are designed for any type of custom jobs required by the client. Once the line is ready to go, we can offer the service within 24 hours. We have well-established lines such as tin, copper, silver plating, and epoxy coatings, which are mostly for the electrical industry. We also offer zinc, zinc nickel and zinc iron, which have proven extremely popular among automotive companies, as well as a newly developed coating that provides similar protection for a lower price. Our other significant lines are phosphate, nickel, electroless nickel, hard chrome, anodizing, and plating over plastic.

Usually our clients specify exact requirements, and it is difficult to suggest a different treatment or process that may be more appropriate. OEMs have specifications and norms indicating that, in order for a part to be admissible, it must undergo a minimum amount of specified hours of corrosion-free performance. We use a salt chamber test to verify that our pieces pass their minimum timeframe before showing signs of red corrosion. The standards or norms required for every piece are usually the same for all cars, but in special cases they may differ.

Q: With competition intensifying, what will Proquipa do to maintain its place and presence in the market?

A: We understand that any manufacturing company can have problems and delays in its delivery times, so we are prepared to provide our service to any client at any time. A few years ago, one of our clients asked us to place a cleaning and plating plant closer to them in order to provide services in less than three hours. We established Ecoplating Puebla to provide that service, and are now benefiting from this expansion in our market reach. Customers send us products from all over Mexico, since it is difficult to find other companies that will match us on quality, pricing, and on-time delivery. Due to high demand, we are planning an investment of US$20 million in the next two years. Our plans are to expand Ecoplating Puebla and initialize operations in Queretaro, Guanajuato, and Monterrey, and to establish another line for the automotive industry.