Alejandro Veraza
Managing Country Director of TI Automotive
TI Automotive
View from the Top

New Projects Demand Specialized Labor

Sat, 09/01/2018 - 11:20

Q: How has TI Automotive taken advantage of the latest OEM investments in the country?
A: TI Automotive’s operations have grown thanks to new OEM projects coming from the NAFTA region and Europe and our expectation is to maintain 5 percent year-on-year growth for the next years. Our focus on quality production of fuel and brake lines has helped us gain new projects with our existing client base with companies like Volkswagen, Audi and Chrysler and it has opened the doors for us with new clients that we had previously not had in Mexico such as Mercedes-Benz. We have also grown our operations as a Tier 2 company and we have incremented our production destined for exports with Honda, Volvo and BMW. All these different projects give us enough flexibility to not depend on a single client and to learn about new technology trends from different companies to grow our own lineup.
Q: How important is Mexico for TI Automotive’s global operations and how have you ensured positive results at all your facilities here?
A: Mexico is a key contributor in TI Automotive’s global strategy and a country with positive growth levels. For the industry in general, North America has yielded moderate growth in recent years but Mexico remains a fast-growing manufacturing hub and that is also true for our company. We have diversified our operations between the domestic and the international market and that has helped us deliver healthy results. Our plant in the State of Mexico, for example, destines 80 percent of its production to the domestic market. San Luis Potosi, on the other hand, sends 80 percent of its products to the US and Canada, while Reynosa exports 70 percent of its production to the US. Moreover, with our growing operations with new clients, Reynosa is now expecting to increase the production share that will stay in Mexico.
Q: How is TI Automotive preparing for the technological changes coming to the industry?
A: We have made material-technology development a priority, mainly focusing on increasing our products’ flexibility. This has helped us become more competitive and be more attractive for potential clients and has given us an opportunity to participate in hybrid and electric-vehicle production.
We have also tried to increase our efficiency both in labor and technology. Mexico is still highly competitive in terms of human labor, which means that automation should be a priority but only to a certain extent. The goal should be to increase precision in our operations without incurring  in added costs. We have found that training can lead to extremely specialized labor that can yield better results and more flexibility than automation.
Q: What challenges do you see regarding talent development and availability?
A: Talent development is a priority for the company at all levels. We still see lack of specialized labor as a challenge for the industry. Recent graduates are excellent for new operations but during this growing phase, we need people who already have experience in production operations. In the center of the country, people are highly specialized but there is little availability, which means we must train our new hires as fast as possible. In the north of the country we face a problem of constant migration. People who wanted to move to the US but stayed close to the border are now returning to their states of origin because work opportunities are blooming. Finally, in San Luis Potosi we face the problem of an overall lack of talent, specialized or not, due to the saturation in the entire Bajio region.
The Bajio faces a second problem related to talent and work culture. While people in the north of the country have grown accustomed to a maquila or manufacturing mindset, in the Bajio there are still people that grew up doing agricultural activities. This means that instead of focusing on continuous labor of a technical nature, they are accustomed to seasonal work.