The fourth site belonging to Mexican sales company Aceros Böhler Uddeholm began operating in May 2016.
Leveraging the boom in Mexico’s automotive industry, over the past 15 months the local sales company in voestalpine AG’s Special Steel Division, Aceros Böhler Uddeholm S.A de C.V, has opened not one, but two new sites. This regional expansion has already proved a great success. Revenue in the past year rose by a full 30 percent, and Böhler Uddeholm Mexico intends to have doubled revenue after five years.
After establishing a strategically well-positioned subsidiary in Puebla, southeast of Mexico City, the company’s fourth site began operations at the end of May, in probably the country’s most important automotive hot spot: a 1,000 m² plot in Querétaro, 250 km northeast of the capital, is now the site of a tool steel warehouse and six saws, designed so the company can better service customers in the automotive industry. On another 1,000 m² at the site, Aceros Böhler Uddeholm has invested in setting up a coating center, equipped with two Eifeler PVD coating lines and machines for all the upstream and downstream processing steps, including decoating and polishing.
“PVD coating to increase the wear resistance of tools is a completely new process here in Mexico,” explains Johannes Jeitler who was made General Manager of the sales company almost a year ago. “However, there’s an unbelievably high level of demand, paired with a comparatively non-intensive competitive landscape.” This demand is also due to the country’s tier 2 and 3 suppliers, in particular, not yet having the technological expertise required by the automotive manufacturers. For this reason, currently around 65% of the components used in automotive assembly are imported. “This creates a gap which we intend to close as a result of our investments,” says Jeitler, explaining the change in strategy which is a response to the strong growth in this market, particularly in the automotive supply chain. When it comes to PVD coating, tools need to be repeatedly recoated but can only be taken out of production for a maximum of two or three days. This makes no logistical sense if recoating is only possible outside the country.
Although the voestalpine company has been active in Mexico for over 50 years, it has never experienced a development such as this before. “In terms of production figures for light vehicles, the industry is forecast to grow at around nine percent a year. That’s also been the case for the past five years,” says Johannes Jeitler. The country is now significantly ahead of Brazil and Canada in terms of production numbers, and the USA is the only country on the American continent with higher output. Over 3.5 million vehicles were produced in Mexico in 2015, 80% of which were for export (primarily to the North American market, but also increasingly to Asia). There is significant growth in annual exports, as well as increasing local demand. “It’s also interesting for us to see the increasing shift to the premium segment, which means more sophisticated technical requirements along the entire supply chain.” This naturally benefits premium provider Böhler Uddeholm, as does the huge influx of suppliers from around the world that this development has encouraged: “We’ve known most of these companies for decades, and we can support them here from the very start,” says Mr Jeitler, looking forward to the future with optimism.
The main entrance of the new site at Querétaro. Guests will be welcomed to the official opening ceremony here on June 21.
Johannes Jeitler had already worked with the Mexican market and the sales company for several years in Regional Business Development when a new strategy was needed in response to developments in the local automotive industry.
Acknowledged expert Axel Franco (standing) is Manager of the Coating Services Business Unit which is now responsible for the company’s entry into this segment. He and Manuel Robledo (seated) work in the new laboratory at the PVD coating center.
Initially ten employees will work at the new site.