Rubber Components from Japan to Chihuahua

Mon, 09/01/2014 - 12:07

The 2008 recession brought opportunities for many automotive companies that needed to rethink their strategies if they wanted to maintain their businesses. DTR, a leader in rubber products for the automotive sector, was one of those companies. After the recession, the company decided to push production in Mexico in order to keep its costs in place. A plant was built in Chihuahua due to its proximity to the US, enabling DTR to export to the US market. “Chihuahua is near the border but it is much safer than other border cities like Ciudad Juarez,” says Masanobu Kawaguchi, President of DTR Mexico. The company produces gas hoses in its Mexican facilities and will soon bring other products.

As many Japanese companies are coming to Mexico, DTR has focused on selling only to other Japanese companies although it is aware of possible interactions with non- Japanese companies. For now however, DTR is looking for more Japanese customers in Mexico. The company is already working with Mazda in Mexico. In terms of local challenges, DTR has had to adapt to the cultural differences between Mexico and Japan in order to find a way to share its knowledge and technology. “When teaching something to new workers in Japan, we do not dwell on small details because we assume these are understood beforehand, but in Mexico we need to mention them because people here do not see the things in the same way,” explains Kawaguchi. The best solution that the company has found is to provide examples of good and bad products so that people can understand what is expected.

American Industries, a shelter service company, has assisted DTR in overcoming some of the issues it has encountered in Mexico. “American Industries has helped us a lot since it has worked with other Japanese companies before, thus they are already aware of our culture and work ethics,” explains Kawaguchi. Right now, the people in charge of human resources for DTR come from American Industries and they are focused on finding the right personnel for the company. Kawaguchi explains that 2017 will be an important year for the company as many of the strategies it has right now will have to change. The company will not be able to use the shelter system anymore and their IMMEX program will end, therefore DTR will be pushed to rethink its strategies and find more customers and suppliers in Mexico. It still has not been decided if the plant in Chihuahua should remain there in the future and if it will grow, because those decisions will depend on what happens between 2015 and 2020. If exports increase as they are expected to, then production in Mexico will increase as well. Right now, DTR is selling US$6 million a year, and the company wants to double this over the 2015-2020 period.