Keys to Becoming a successful Mexican Tier 2 supplierBy Alejandro Enríquez | Tue, 02/02/2021 - 18:46
Q: As a successful Tier 2 Mexican company, what added value do you bring to the automotive sector?
A: In 2020, the company is celebrating 10 years in the market. We started with zero customers and a single machine in 2010. Ten years later, we have three laser machines, one waterjet cutter, six machining centers, welding, assembly lines, and more. Laser & Manufacturing exports 40 percent of its products directly to the US and most of our processes are in-house, which has granted us quality certifications including ISO9001:2008 and AS9100C. Recently, we won an award that includes economic aid from the Queretaro state government to implement Industry 4.0 practices in the company. Our company has been recognized in different national and international competitions as a healthy and profitable business.
Q: What advice would you give to Mexican companies looking to escalate their business?
A: Training and certifications are key. We also applied to state and federal government programs to promote our business. INADEM and ProMéxico helped us to get the certifications we have now and to participate in the sector. There are options out there but it requires hard work and an outstanding product.
Q: A great opportunity area for the industry in Queretaro and the Bajio is to develop more tooling companies. What is your view on the tooling landscape?
A: We create our own tooling, which brings an added value to our customers. Without a doubt, there is increasing competition among tooling companies in the region. The pandemic will spur more competition as people who lost their job may be starting a new business. There is room for everyone, even within the automotive supply chain.
Q: What are the keys to successfully implement Industry 4.0 features?
A: Industry 4.0 and digitalization are a must for every manufacturer and those that choose not to embrace these trends will be left behind, even more so after the pandemic. If all our processes were automated or digitalized, we would have had better control over them. Either way, there is no better time to fully leap now. We will gain greater control over production and insights into our machines’ performance. It is also important to map the process correctly and define what is the actual goal of the project.
Q: What lessons have Laser & Manufacturing learned from the pandemic?
A: One of the most important lessons for us was to have a really well-balanced customer portfolio. We have customers in the automotive, metal-mechanic, aerospace, and energy sectors. Having customers abroad has also been important for us. Being diversified allowed us to have continuous operations, even during the months the industry stopped because we had customers in the essential sectors.
The second lesson is to not take anything for granted and work hard every day. On a more commercial note, focusing on digital media, digital advertising, and social networks has proven relevant for us. Being always up to date remains key during these uncertain times.
Q: What opportunities will emerge from USMCA for companies such as yours?
A: I think it will provide many great opportunities for the sector. From our perspective, the pandemic also influenced large companies that stopped purchasing from suppliers in China. Those companies are now looking for potential partners in the country. Companies are looking for more local options and we are the better deal. Logistics corridors are being developed and strengthened, linking Mexico and the US.
We just created our subsidiary company in the US, exporting to Cincinnati, Florida, and other states. We are looking forward to expanding our business in the US, even taking workshops there.
Q: How do you take into account concerns regarding more sustainable operations and more energy-efficient operations?
A: Our first machine consumed the same electricity that 10 of our newest machines do. New technology can be expensive but it is worth it. Regarding energy sources, we are exploring different alternatives to generate our own electricity, which is one of our biggest expenses. Energy generation for self-consumption is urgent since regulations can change. Given that our main raw material is steel, we are considering creating alternative business models based on the scrap we generate.
Q: What are Laser & Manufacturing’s strategies to continue growing?
A: Naturally, the pandemic stopped some of our plans. Our 2020 strategies have been delayed to 2021 but our investments and priorities carry on. In fact, we are planning to open another branch in the southern part of Mexico while focusing on the US market. Many people do not look to the Mexican south as the Bajio and central area remain popular. We believe there is potential in the south and we will continue investing cautiously.
Laser & Manufacturing is a Mexican company based in Queretaro, specialized in laser cutting, waterjet cutting, bending, machining, and welding for the automotive, aerospace, and metal-mechanic sectors. The company has one subsidiary in the US and is ISO9001 and AS9100C certified