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Yanfeng Automotive Interiors Mexico
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Yanfeng Builds Two New Plants Despite Pandemic, One More Coming

By Alejandro Enríquez | Mon, 05/31/2021 - 06:00

Q: How have plans for Yanfeng to expand its footprint in Mexico progressed?

A: Our seat plant in Monterrey is fully operational. We also built a fifth plant in the northern region and we are ramping up operations in Saltillo. In a matter of 11 months, Yanfeng has built two new plants and we are planning to build an additional facility next year. The new plant will be focused on automotive interiors, specifically interiors for EVs. The new plant will allow Yanfeng to grow its footprint in EV manufacturing.

Q: What are the strategies to ensure sustainable long-term results?

A: Despite COVID-19, and energy and gas shortages in Texas, Yanfeng was able to recover quickly without compromising its workforce or operations. We rely on innovation and we continue to bet on long-term investments alongside our customers so we can be there for them, providing both innovation and sustainable operations. Moreover, we provide our customers with the certainty that supplies will not be compromised despite external circumstances. This has helped us to earn our customers’ trust, ensuring we can attract a greater part of their business in the future.

Due to the pandemic, many companies have been reducing their investments or workforce but Yanfeng is going in the opposite direction. We continue to invest and grow our footprint thanks to our dedicated team.

Q: What components or raw materials is Yanfeng hoping to procure from its local supply chain?

A: COVID-19 caused problems for many suppliers. The more we support the creation of regional suppliers of electronic components, which are now mainly sourced from Asia, plastic components, plastics and resins, the better for companies in the region. Most of our operations require plastics and textiles, such as leather and fabrics. Those are the materials we are looking for locally.

Yanfeng has a team dedicated to the development of local suppliers alongside automakers. Also, we are working with our customers to relocate many of our suppliers in Asia and Europe to this part of the world. Nobody knows what will happen next, whether climate change or a new pandemic will affect the industry, but the fact is that the closer suppliers are, the less affected the industry will be.

Q: What have been some achievements of Yanfeng's tech center in Queretaro and what role does the center play within your operations in Mexico?

A: Our center in Queretaro has proven beneficial, especially with all the travel restrictions. The center helped us to provide rapid responses in design and to improve benefits for our customers by allowing us to offer technical support on processes.

We are also proud to say that we have products that are being designed here in Mexico, alongside our customers, of course. That is remarkable because we used to rely on other countries for product development. We now have that opportunity closer to home.

Q: What can Mexico do to strengthen its R&D and innovation capabilities?

A: Often, companies arrive in Mexico and the first thing they demand is experienced professionals. But companies in Mexico should bet on young talent and coach them throughout their professional lives while developing their innovation skills. This is not a short-term strategy but one that will be fruitful in the medium and long term.

Yanfeng followed this strategy and we now have 80 designers with an average age below 30 years old. Most of them joined us as trainees; they trained at different tech centers and returned to Mexico ready to innovate. These young professionals are committed to the company and proud to be part of its different projects. The more companies trust in young talent, the faster innovation capabilities can be developed. Four years ago, our technical center was a dream and now we are projecting aggressive growth.

Q: What competitive advantages does Yanfeng have from working in the north of Mexico?

A: In the northern region, the competitive advantage is that we are closer to the US and Canada. We are just three hours from the border and we can quickly deliver to Texas. All companies aim to remain competitive and that means being closer to our customers. As we know, many companies are betting on growth in North America. Nearshoring trends were discussed a few years ago but they are now crystalizing.

Having a large footprint in Mexico's central area strengthens our ability to supply all OEMs in the Bajio area. On top of that, we have our tech center in Queretaro that does design. This allows engineers from OEMs to work with our engineering teams to strengthen our products. Connectivity at all our facilities is absolutely important.

Alejandro Enríquez Alejandro Enríquez Journalist and Industry Analyst