Q: How was Grupo Hi-Tec created, and what have been its most significant contributions to the Mexican automotive industry?
A: Hi-Tec was established in 1992 during a time when most companies offered conventional machinery. We decided to take a different approach and entered with the objective of targeting the CNC market. In 1996, we took on the Haas line, which was a significant boost to the company. We subsequently started to sell large amounts of machines and, a few years later, Haas established its factory outlet, separating other machine tool suppliers from the Haas products. We now have three different companies: Haas Machine Tools, Hi-Tec CNC, and Nexttec Machinery. Haas Machine Tools concentrates on the Haas product line, Nexttec Machinery deals with the sheet metal industry, and Hi-Tec CNC handles more automotive-focused brands, such as OKK, Nakamura-Tome, and Citizen. Three years ago we also expanded into Europe when Haas offered us distributorship in Spain. As a result, we now have A&G CNC Services in Germany and Hi-Tec Máquinas CNC targeting the Spanish market. The Haas Machine Tools line is targeted toward small workshops, medium-sized companies, and some bigger corporations that use the machines for secondary operations. Hi-Tec CNC, on the other hand, offers machines that are specialized in large volume and precision parts, and are focused toward Tier 1 and Tier 2 companies. While these companies represent our bread and butter, we can still offer solutions to OEMs for their critical components and transfer lines.
Q: As Grupo Hi-Tec already has such a strong foothold in the Mexican market, how does the company generate new business?
A: There are new manufacturers and suppliers arriving in the country, particularly the Japanese brands, which bring their machines directly from Japan. We are already partnering with them to offer support services for their machines and to sell them the machines directly in Mexico. In 2014, Haas Automation built more than 14,000 machines and now has more than 160,000 machines installed worldwide. In Mexico, we have installed more than 6,000 machines through the Haas Factory Outlet, which is operated by Haas Machine Tools. For Haas, Mexico is the third most important country after the US and China for machine tool sales, thanks to the huge demand in this country over the last three years. Our sales have been increasing every year, with 2015 expected to surpass last year’s total. Mexico is continuously increasing its automotive production, which means that someone will have to supply all the necessary machines and equipment. Machine tools can be used to manufacture any types of components, whether they are made of plastic or metal. We sell equipment to suppliers in the mold and die industry, which indirectly supports OEMs. The automotive industry is an important customer of the wide range of solutions that we provide.
Q: How are Hi-Tec’s automation products helping with this transition, and how have they affected human capital in the industry?
A: Hi-Tec has always been a leader in the machine tool field. We are always on the lookout for state-of-the-art technology that helps our customers to achieve their goals. The level of automation really depends on what the customer requires in terms of space and production. Our engineers work directly with the manufacturing plant and we decide which solution is the best for each case. In terms of human capital, there is increasing demand for skilled workers since the supply of engineers from the universities is not enough, not to mention that the industry also needs technicians who can operate the machines. In order to assist with this, Hi-Tec offers lifetime training for the client with every purchase. This means that if the customer loses its engineer, they can send their new employee to train with us any time they want. We are thinking about starting our own school where we can offer the technical knowledge the industry needs in a short period of time, such as the necessary skills for metal cutting and machine operation.
Q: What led Grupo Hi-Tec to expand into Spain?
A: Haas offered us the Spanish market in 2011 and we thought it was a great opportunity. Given the state of the economy in those years, it was a good time to make the proper investment and associate with the right companies. Eventually, the economy picked up, putting us in a position where we have a good reputation and infrastructure, effectively covering the entire country with sales, application, and service personnel.