Jaime Boza
Managing Director
Waukesha
/
View from the Top

Waukesha, Reliable Suppliers Remain in Business

By MBN Staff | Wed, 07/15/2020 - 17:03

Q: How does Waukesha’s San Luis Potosi facility complement the company’s global operations?

A: Waukesha opened this factory in 2014 as a strategy to supply for AAM’s Guanajuato operations. The company was originally founded in the 1970s as a manufacturer of tooling but it evolved to also supply stamped components for AAM and eventually also Continental, Cummins and other suppliers. The San Luis Potosi plant is an integral part of the development plans of Waukesha. We are in the process of growing our capacities with the goal of catering to new clients such as BMW, Volkswagen and Audi.

Stabilizing Waukesha’s San Luis Potosi plant is the biggest priority for the company. This will come as a result of keeping clients happy with the quality of our parts and tooling equipment while also keeping our prices competitive and delivering when requested. For us, that means strengthening our tooling and maintenance areas and training workers and managers. As a consequence of this strategy, Waukesha’s Mexico plant will continue making its name among potential automotive clients. The industry looks for reliable suppliers, so it is extremely rare for automotive companies to switch suppliers once they have established a good relationship and developed mutual trust. Once Waukesha’s San Luis Potosi manufacturing operations are successfully consolidated in 2020, our main target is to start operating as a Tier 1 supplier for BMW, Volkswagen and Audi.

Q: What talent challenges are stamped parts suppliers based in San Luis Potosi facing?

A: The automotive industry in San Luis Potosi has experienced abrupt growth with the arrival of GM and BMW in the last few years, which has caused a labor shortage in skilled profiles such as toolmaking. This has incentivized employee poaching and pushed companies to bring in talent from other automotive-intensive regions, raise salaries and find new ways to motivate employee retention. The lack of skilled toolmakers is a major challenge for the state’s automotive industry. While Puebla, for instance, has the centers of Benteler, Gestamp and Magna where molds and dies technicians are trained, San Luis Potosi lacks this infrastructure. This situation forces stamped parts suppliers to make an extra investment in terms of time and money to train workers who are sometimes hired elsewhere.

Q: What is Waukesha’s strategy to deal with talent shortages in San Luis Potosi?

A: We do not discriminate among workers based on age. It is common for companies to replace some incredibly talented and experienced collaborators of 50 years of age and older with younger workers, particularly in management positions. Waukesha has adopted an innovative system to train collaborators. Because industrial companies in San Luis Potosi often see themselves needing to hire all kinds of unskilled workers, we needed to develop a strong system that fills the gaps. Before reaching the production line, all workers learn about the manufacturing and safety procedures that they must follow through extremely simple methods. This system teaches them the key points they need to follow and what happens if they do not follow them properly, which eases the training process.

Q: What are the most important gaps that still exist in Mexico’s automotive supplier base?

A: Technology is the main gap because it is generally imported from the US, Japan or Germany rather than developed locally. The country has a long road ahead to fill this gap because local academic institutions are not yet ready to develop the advanced manufacturing technology that the sector needs, such as industrial robots, lasers and tooling. Some academic institutions in Mexico have advanced toward training more engineers capable of designing molds and dies, but only a handful of companies design and manufacture tooling equipment locally.

Q: What are the main competitive advantages that differentiate Waukesha in the stamped components and tooling markets?

A: The fact that we design and manufacture our own dies is a key differentiator, especially considering that Waukesha continues to consolidate its San Luis Potosi operations. While most companies will purchase their tooling equipment from suppliers in Canada, the US, China or elsewhere, Waukesha’s in-house dies production gives us a great deal of flexibility when offering quotes for tooling and stamped parts. Waukesha can offer savings of 5-8 percent compared to our competitors, which can weigh on clients’ decisions to choose one or another supplier.

 

Waukesha is a supplier of tooling equipment, stamped components and steel sheets founded in the US. The company opened a manufacturing facility in San Luis Potosi in 2014 as part of its strategy to remain close to its global clients

MBN Staff MBN Staff MBN staff